Sunday , 21 April 2024

A Hundred Days after Gaza’s October 7 (Part 4 of 4) How Does This End? Regionally and Globally.

gatestoneinstitute.org – Israel’s cause is the cause of the Free World as is Ukraine’s and Taiwan’s.

Domestic supporters of Hamas, trying to constrain Israel by “lawfare” and by noisy street and media politics, are therefore a fifth column for our enemies and should be treated as such.

Unsuccessful “lawfare” at the International Court of Justice served to narrow and make harder the road out of Gaza for all local parties. The biggest losers are those Arabs who are neither Islamists nor anti-Semites: for their territorial hopes have been written out of history at present by Hamas and Iran. Prosperity and tranquillity for them will only return with resumption of the Abraham Accords…. Netanyahu is surely correct in stating that any attempt to push for a two-state solution at this moment would endanger Israel.

Globally, in the context of a developing worldwide multi-theatre and multi modal contest between the Free World and the dictatorships, the most humane and swiftest route to peace is controlled escalation on our terms which reaches out and helps Iranians to end the shaky and bloodstained regime of the Iranian ayatollahs.

The right sort of war – meaning war on Western terms, in which we and not our enemies have escalation dominance — is sometimes the most peace-friendly option….

Unsuccessful “lawfare” at the International Court of Justice served to narrow and make harder the road out of Gaza for all local parties. The biggest losers are those Arabs who are neither Islamists nor anti-Semites: for their territorial hopes have been written out of history at present by Hamas and Iran. Pictured: ICJ President Joan Donoghue (second from right) confers with colleagues at the court in The Hague on January 12, 2024. (Photo by Remko de Waal/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

There are always dire consequences when the two strands of the double helix of “history as facts” and “history as beliefs” are torn too far apart. Chaos ensues. Dark forces are liberated.

Just this has happened for Israel and its neighbourhood since Hamas perpetrated the pogrom of 7/10. In the hundred days until the world turned upside down with the South African led attempt to weaponise the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) to tar the victim of a transparently genocidal attack with charges of genocide — an attempt which failed, but only just — all routes out of the dark chaos have steadily narrowed. After the ICJ’s vexatious ruling which tried but was unable to declare Israel to have committed genocide, even moreso.

Locally, those Arabs who are not Salafist Islamist anti-Semites have for the moment lost their road to normalisation with Israel. Their hopes for tranquillity have been written out of possibility by Iran and its proxies until the Abraham Accords regain their traction. That in turn is contingent upon the IDF being able to follow the advice of Britain’s great fighting General of the Second World War: Field Marshal Montgomery’s Second Law of War: Maintenance of Aim. Until then, look once more at the July 1922 map of the British Mandate as the likely guide.

Globally, the centrality of Iranian sponsorship of its proxies and the active hand of its military arm, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), in planning and executing the atrocities of 7/10 and in mobilising their proxies, the Houthis and Hezbollah, mean that the safest route is now via the rescue of Iranians from the shaky regime and bloody hands of the ayatollahs. This cannot be achieved by minimal, sequential pin-point military actions. They will be viewed as signs of Western weakness. In fact the policy of US President Joe Biden is more likely to increase the possibility of a full-scale but dis-coordinated attack on Iran which would be the worst course of action. What is required is a competent theory of victory which understands the inter-relatedness of all the global theatres in the current, developing world war and, understanding this, which takes and controls the terms of battle by planned escalation. Escalation by the West in response to the escalation has been done or sponsored by Iran is both necessary and right.

This final part of the series maps and explores the local and the global roads to safety for Israel, the Free World in its multi-theatre, multi-modal confrontation with the Northern Middle and Eastern dictatorships and for the resumption of the Abraham Accords. Both roads involve the destruction of anti-Semitic enemies of peace and civilisation, just as it did when confronted with the Nazi antecedents of Hamas and the other spawn of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Third Reich SS officer Otto Ohlendorf’s tu quoque – literally “you too” — “Dresden defence”, that the Allies were just as bad as he had been, by also killing civilians and children with their carpet bombing of Dresden (with which Part III ended), made no impact on his judges at Nuremberg. They saw the Dresden bombing to be covered (as it is) by a Shermanite ethical exclusion: that it is moral and humane to increase the intensity of force the sooner to end it. They also found his argument to be futile because his case was entirely different in motive and in scale. In short it was a category error. The same token the Hamas’ apologists’ even more offensive and inappropriate claims that the IDF’s demonstrably discriminating operations are a form of genocide should not be entertained either. The BBC’s dog-whistling with repeated and almost voyeuristic reports of individual dead or maimed children in Gaza, which evokes the medieval anti-Semitic blood libel, is a disgrace.

Ohlendorf’s last throw of the dice in his defence at Nuremburg was the “Posen line”: to advance a frank and much darker line in self-justification. In his verbatim record in Case 9, he said:

“I believe that it is very simple to explain if one starts from the fact that [the Führer] Order not only tried to achieve security, but permanent security, lest the children grow up and inevitably, being the children of parents who had been killed, they would constitute a danger no smaller than that of the parents.”

It is derivative of Himmler’s 1943 Posen “secret speech” to his close subordinates justifying the Holocaust, “the extermination of the Jewish people”, which he, Ohlendorf, had heard. It was different only in that Ohlendorf was willing to voice in public (quoted above) what Himmler had said, repeatedly, should be forever unspoken and it is the authentic voice of the genocidaire. It is seen in Salafist ideology, to be read in Qutb’s Milestones, or the Hamas Charter (note especially clauses 7, 22, 32); and it was seen in grisly action on 7th October.

At Nuremberg the judges gave that line of defence – the “Posen line” — short shrift as they had also given to his “Dresden defence”. They found Ohlendorf guilty and sentenced him to hang. In June 1951, a decade after his crimes and icily composed to the last, he was executed at Landsberg gaol, the same gaol where Hitler had been held in detention for eight months in 1924 and where he had dictated Mein Kampf.

At first sight, but already beyond reasonable doubt on their own evidence – the terrorists actually documented their atrocities on video – Hamas’s men committed the gravest war crimes against civilians on 7/10 under Geneva 4 Article 147 (discussed fully in Part 3), including wilful killing, torture, inhuman treatment and the taking of hostages. Assuredly, they will all be hunted down, one way or another. Whether they receive summary justice or justice by due process in national courts as prescribed by Geneva 4, or a Nuremberg-style tribunal, time will tell. But if the latter, when their qualitatively worse crimes, while fewer in number, are compared to the lesser crimes of the SS Einsatzgruppen for which Ohlendorf was hanged (which is a sentence one never expected to have to write) perhaps capital punishment for such war crimes against humanity will return? Rule nothing out.

In any event, everything changed for everyone on 7th October and quietist, non-Salafist Arabs will likely be the greatest losers. That is because the current unreconstructed anti-Semitic PLO and Hamas leaders, whose Nazi pedigree channelled through Hitler’s enthusiastic supporter and propagandist, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, documented in Part 2, have written their territorial hopes out of history for the foreseeable future. As the great scholar and diplomat Abba Eban once observed, “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

At the threshold of 2024, it is therefore worthwhile recollecting the history of the July 1922 British Mandate for Palestine because, after Hamas has been obliterated and with any two-state solution reduced to the fading smile of Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire cat, that map may become actively relevant once more. David Ben Gurion’s 1947 spirit of compromise may not be so readily extended by any Israelis after what the Arabs have done and in the face of an apparently concerted diplomatic effort by the British Foreign Secretary, the EU and Biden to design and foist a Palestinian state on to the region without Israel’s involvement. Such high-handedness is more likely to produce an opposite reaction: to consolidate and harden Israeli refusal to accept such conduct.

Once Hamas and the other IRGC proxies are gone and the path of the Abraham Accords has been resumed, another opportunity may come. But not before then. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is surely correct in stating that any attempt to push for a two-state solution at this moment would endanger Israel. That is the local, regional road after Gaza. It is within this reality that, as the current British Foreign Secretary is attempting, by meddling in the internal affairs of the Western world’s bulwark in the Middle East is, as Nile Gardiner states, not just a knife in the back to the Jewish state. It is particularly unseemly when Israelis are fighting and dying daily to defend the freedom of the West in the developing world conflict.

David Cameron was wrong about Brexit, which has proved to be the opposite of the disaster that he predicted and, as just indicated, he is wrong about the Israel-Hamas war. His two errors are linked. He ended his Prime Ministership abruptly when he lost the 2016 referendum and has clearly never forgiven the 17.4 million British people who voted to leave the EU in the country’s biggest ever democratic exercise. By suggesting that the UK and UN should pre-emptively recognise a Palestinian State without Israel’s participation or consent, Cameron aligns with the EU’s similar proposal which looks like a cold revenge for Brexit. Simultaneously he voices the authentic and deeply entrenched pro-Arabism in the culture of British Foreign Office officials which to this point had rarely dared to speak its name. He also delivers a slap in the face to all Israelis and to Israeli statehood. Now, together with the EU and Biden, instead of holding Hamas accountable – or even letting Israel hold Hamas accountable – he apparently wants to give Hamas and Iran a reward for initiating the pogrom of 7/10. Gardiner describes this performance as “amateur” — which is mild — and as “… among the most reckless comments made by a British Foreign Secretary in the modern era,” which is not over-stated. Cameron is openly flouting the authority of his successor, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. This is therefore a moment when we will discover if the prime minister has steel in his spine. He must disassociate himself from this free-lancing. He has ample grounds to sack Cameron for flouting his authority.

The local route out of Gaza is suddenly filled with new danger, although the pathway to peace and safety thought IDF victory over Hamas remains clear. Yet because of Iran’s involvement through its proxies – Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Yemeni Houthis — there is an unavoidable wider context that demands action, from which it would be unwise to avert our eyes. It has a global dimension and solutions and Cameron’s bungling — or worse — only heightens the risk to Britain, the Middle East and the USA just as he is trying to inflict on Israel.

The combined land and air assault by Hamas on 7/10 had all the hallmarks of a special operation trained by the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Why would it not have? There is evidence that the attacks had been in planning for nine years. Eagle-eyed former US National Security Adviser John Bolton (and not he alone) noticed just after Christmas, although it instantly tried to “walk back” the admission, as did Hamas, the IRGC accidentally told the truth. It described 7th October as an act of revenge for the targeted assassination of the IRGC Quds Force commander, Qassem Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone strike in Iraq ordered by President Donald Trump in 2020: an action that materially assisted the progress of the Abraham Accords. Bolton, himself targeted for assassination by Iran, allegedly in revenge for that same assassination, also suggested that widening the war by Israel’s enemies increasingly looks like implementation of Soleimani’s “ring of fire” strategy to attack Israel on all fronts.

The Israelis certainly seem to agree and to have planned accordingly. Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, a retired IDF General, has spoken of a seven-front war; and the successful assassination of Seyed Razi Mousavi suggests that deeds will match words. Mousavi was the senior IRGC liaison with Hezbollah and a close colleague of Soleimani.

How is all this viewed away from the front line? The reflex view of politicians with little strategic insight, no military knowledge and hence no theory of victory is to flinch from admitting that a Shermanite escalation, of which the Dresden bombings or the atomic bombings that ended World War II are examples, can sometimes be wiser and more humane than its avoidance. Timid, limited, pre-announced strikes are not “prudent” or a sign of humane conduct but of weakness, and evident lack of strategic purpose. The moment of choice has passed. Now, after Free World naval escalation against the Houthi threat to innocent passage through the Red Sea, after more than 170 attacks on US forces just since October, with three American soldiers killed by drone strikes in Jordan, that die has been cast.

Widening regional war is reaching out, step by step, from Israel and its allies to touch directly the shaky regime of the ayatollahs in Iran. It needs to be both understood and accepted that this escalation is both necessary and right. It is the safest road to peace and that is no paradox.

No apology is required: Iran is the telephone exchange linking all three actual and potential theatres — Ukraine, Gaza, China — in a rapidly evolving world war of many interacting theatres and modes of conflict: “hot” (kinetic), “cold'” (economic) and “grey” (oblique cyber, information and subversion). The July Crisis of 1914 or the 1930s are now commonly offered as analogies for this moment; but the best historical analogy for 2024 is the Seven Years’ War in the mid eighteenth century. In that global contest, British victory over the French actually built the scaffolding of a world order which endured until the end of formal European empire and continues to this day in myriad “soft power” relationships and most actively through the British Commonwealth and the Anglosphere “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance.

We are, today, at war in different ways, with Russia, with Communist China and with Iran. They all know this, but our political classes apparently do not or are wilfully blind. Although the combined strength of the free-market economies far out-class theirs, our danger and our strategic risk is that our politicians began to understand this only late in the day, only few accept it and fewer still actively embrace the opportunities that it brings us. As so often in recent years, the old-fashioned parts of the general public, still the majority, seems to be intuitively ahead of a political class that indulges its luxury beliefs like “critical race theory” or “Net Zero” and has become managerialist and self-obsessed. “Where there is no vison, the people perish.”

At this point, safety as well as victory lie in skilful escalation to deter or remove the mullahs who have vexed us long enough. That in turn demands clear, untroubled and consistent understanding that Israel’s cause is the cause of the Free World (as is Ukraine’s and Taiwan’s) and that therefore domestic supporters of Hamas, trying to constrain Israel by lawfare and by noisy street and media politics, are a fifth column for our enemies and should be treated as such.

It means that the attempt by the retiring President of the ICJ, Joan Donoghue, and 14 other judges to reach agreement on the South African case alleging genocide so that all six provisional measures could be imposed on Israel, which was prevented by the Ugandan Judge Sebutinde who alone held that the case was without merit and therefore not justiciable, should be seen in that light (see p.11 of the Law Gazette). The united efforts of Cameron and Borrell at the EU to impose recognition of a Palestinian state without Israel’s involvement, agreement and against its expressed will also fall within the frame of actions that threaten the security interests of the Free World at large. This makes them actually dangerous and for that reason if no other, they should be stopped.

But not all is bleak. There are many arcs that bend out of the events of 7/10 and if we focus on deeds rather than words, we see that the deep muscles of the anglosphere flexed at once. Two US Navy carrier strike groups (the USS Gerald R. Ford and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower groups) were in theatre soon after 7th October. They were amplified with a Royal Navy task group, distressingly limited because of irresponsible hollowing out of the Navy most especially since the Coalition defence cuts of 2010 when Cameron was Prime Minister. Other naval units of reliable Allies also joined. All together, this was the most powerful array of any naval capability to be deployed anywhere for a generation and, as is the way with naval deterrence, their presence gave Israel space and cover to form and launch Operations Swords of Iron as well, no doubt, as quietly providing peerless intelligence support.

The USS Ford group returned to Norfolk after an extended deployment, but different combinations of naval units brought forward maintain the means to deter as they are now doing, or to attack, if the will is firm. The same will happen when the USS Eisenhower has to rotate. There is talk of sending the UK carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (“Big Lizzie”) as replacement, but even with USN escort and logistics support which the UK cannot provide to an adequate level, lacking a CATOBAR (catapult and trap) deck, she cannot inter-operate with the F/A 18 Super Hornet supersonic aircraft that are the mainstay of the US carrier forces.

The Pentagon has formally named Iran as the source of an attack on an Israeli-related merchantman in the Indian Ocean, which is tantamount to a declaration of a state of war; and USN helicopters have sunk Houthi attack craft. A controlled escalation of naval and air actions to degrade Houthi capabilities to conduct anti-shipping attacks has begun and will continue with mainly US Navy firepower and British RAF “token air”, absent the Navy.

A united Western front with a clear strategy to deal with the mullahs once and for all will command tacit Saudi support, rebuff PRC advances into the global energy nexus and, by way of its “one belt one road” policy, Chinese Communist economic colonialism. It will help to repair the alarming damage done by Biden to relations with key regional allies, above all Saudi Arabia; and it is the logical and safest global pathway out of Gaza.

Much more is at stake in the cockpit of the Middle East beyond full support for Israel which, in the hard real world, is the window of the West in a tough neighbourhood. That means firmly overriding the reflex fascination in foreign ministries with Obama’s ill-conceived and ill-starred 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) the “nuclear deal” which attempted to no avail to negotiate controls on the Iranian nuclear bomb programme which, given the regime’s track record for dissembling and unreliability would, most likely, not have honoured except in the breach.

The right sort of war – meaning war on Western terms, in which we and not our enemies have escalation dominance — is sometimes the most peace-friendly option, as was once in no need of explanation.

“War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things”, John Stuart Mill wrote in his Principles of Political Economy.

“The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth a war, is much worse…. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice, is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

Si vis pacem para bellum: if you desire peace, prepare for war. Given where we now are, it is the safer option both for Israel and the wider Free World.

Gwythian Prins is Research Professor Emeritus at the London School of Economics and a past member of the British Chief of the Defence Staff’s Strategy Advisory Panel.

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