Gaza flotilla attack: rage is no substitute for careful strategic planning
06/01/2010 - 06:36
James Besser

Israeli leaders, facing the predictable criticism in response to the predictable eruption of violence on the high seas when their forces confronted the Gaza flotilla, are busy explaining why they were justified in taking the action they took.

What they don't want to address, for obvious reasons: was it  smart?

Did it further their goal of weakening Hamas and turning the Palestinian people to more peaceable visions, or did it bolster Hamas' standing internationally and help it tighten its grip on Gaza? Did it improve Israel's standing in the world? Did it contribute to their goal of building broad international support for stopping Iran's nuclear program, or will it be one more distraction at a critical juncture in the Iran debate?

And did it contribute to the gradual easing of diplomatic tensions between the  Netanyahu government and the Obama administration, or did it have the opposite result, and add new complications to Washington's efforts on the Iran front?

For that matter, what about the Gaza blockade itself? I haven't seen any credible evidence that the blockade has weakened the terrorist group, and there are a lot of smart people who say it's just strengthened a group that remains commuted to Israel's destruction.  And to the rest of the world, it hard to see how the blockade isn't collective punishment.

More and more, it seems to me, Israel foreign policy is built on a foundation of “I've had it, and I'm not going to take it any more.”  Rage and indignation shape policy, not careful consideration of the likely costs and benefits.

Not surprisingly, Atlantic blogger Jeff Goldberg has one of the best responses to this issue. Israel leaders react, but they don't have vision, he writes – the vision it will take to survive in an incredibly complex world that is already biased against the Jewish state.

I don't want to hear whether Israel was justified in stopping a flotilla that officials in Jerusalem announced in advance was looking for a confrontation; I want to hear whether it was smart policy likely to advance its interest in peace and security. The answer is likely to be depressing for those worried about Israel's future.

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