World View: Israel Okays Mobilizing up to 75,000 Troops

World View: Israel Okays Mobilizing up to 75,000 Troops

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Israel apparently prepares for a ground invasion of Gaza
  • Hamas’s miscalculations in provoking Gaza War
  • Little input from Taiwan in the Japan – China dispute over the Senkaku Islands

Israel apparently prepares for a ground invasion of Gaza

Tanks and troops are massing on Israel’s border with Gaza, and onFriday evening, Israel’s cabinet authorized mobilization of up to75,000 reservists, up from just 16,000 authorized the day before, with30,000 already reporting for duty in their home districts. Thesemoves are reactions to long-range rockets from Gaza reaching as far asJerusalem, though without yet creating damage or casualties. But thevulnerability of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to rocket attacks from Gazais causing Israel to get panicky. 

Recall that in 2006, Israel went to war with Hizbollah in Lebanon,within four hours of the capture of two Israeli soldier, with no plan,and no objective, resulting in total chaos.

The current situation has the same feeling of Israel panicking.However, we have to assume that the Israelis learned a lot from 2006,and that they have a plan. Possibly the military buildup is just abluff, and there’s no intention of invading. Or the invasion may havebegun by the time you read this. If the invasion does take place,it’s hard to see what the objective will be. Even in the unlikelyevent that Israel manages to destroy every missile in Gaza, it willonly be weeks before a new supply comes in from Iran through Egypt,through the Rafah crossing. Reuters and Debka

Hamas’s miscalculations in provoking Gaza War

I frequently use the phrase “danger of miscalculation” in varioussituations. For example, in the East China Sea, where Chinese warships and Japanese coast guard ships are circling each other and theSenkaku/Diayou islands, there’s a danger of miscalculation — anaccidental weapon firing or something — that could spiral into amajor confrontation. 

There are reports that Hamas actually did miscalculate in provokingthe Gaza war with Israel. Hamas seems to have believed it had a freehand to do what it wanted because Israel would not want to riskangering Egypt’s government or Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. But Israelwent ahead with its military campaign anyway, and Egypt’s presidentMohamed Morsi, while harshly condemning Israel’s actions, is workingto mediate a truce, as we reportedyesterday. 

It’s also worth stopping a moment and reminding ourselves what’s goingon here. These discussions about reservists and miscalculations areabout what politicians say and do.

But as I point out frequently, it’s a basic principle of GenerationalDynamics that politicians matter very little in bringing about greatevents, even in a dictatorship. It’s the great masses of people,entire generations of people, that bring them about, and politiciansare irrelevant except insofar as they’re following the wishes of themasses of people.

In this case, the firing of rockets into Israel has a great deal ofpopular support among Gazans, and it’s not clear that the Hamasgovernment could prevent the firing even if it wanted to. In fact,there have been numerous reports in the past that Hamas is unable tocontrol Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups that are launchingthe rockets.

In the case of Israel, it’s clear that Netanyahu has no choice. Thepeople of Israel are frightened and furious, and are demanding thatsomething be done. I’ve heard some analysts say that Netanyahu istaking a “risky gamble,” but in fact he’s not gambling anythingbecause he has no choice. He’s doing what he has to do, and he canneither bring about a good outcome nor prevent a bad one. The Mideastis now on automatic flight control. Washington Institute

Little input from Taiwan in the Japan – China dispute over the Senkaku Islands

As the disagreement over sovereignty over the Senkaku/Diayou islandsgathered steam in the last few months, Taiwan mostly stayed out of it,even though Taiwan also claims sovereignty over the same islands.There were a couple of critical statements, and there was ahigh-profile “sea protest” involving hundreds of Taiwanese fishingvessels, but it ended quickly. Taiwan’s non-involvement is partiallydue to political disputes within Taiwan’s government over whetherTaiwan should be an independent nation or a province of mainlandChina. But the major reasons seems to be an almost total lack ofinterest in the issue on the part of the Japanese people. Attempts byactivists to generate large protests have backfired when participantswere simply uninterested. There is Taiwanese nationalism on otherissues, but not on this issue, and there is little Taiwanesexenophobia towards the Japanese. This is in contrast to the Chinesepeople who are so xenophobic and nationalistic that they’ve beenassaulting Japanese on the streets, smashing Japanese factories, andboycotting Japanese products en masse. As I said earlier, it’sthe great masses of people that determine government policy, not thepoliticians. Jamestown

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