Making Sense of current events
I try to be a rationalist. I believe that most people (particularly politicians), make rational decisions based on their best understanding of the current situation and the implications of their proposed actions. In world politics, the biggest problem for the common observer (myself included) is that we lack pertinent information. It seems obvious to me that the IDF has significant knowledge concerning the assets and liabilities in Gaza. Hamas on the other side, believes that it too has knowledge of the Israeli's options and capabilities.
The Israeli position seems simple and obvious to me: Stop trying to destroy our country through military efforts and we will let you live in peace.
The corollaries are:
a) Stop firing rockets and we will allow food and supplies through our borders.
b) Stop attempting to plant explosives, dig cross border tunnels, or otherwise prepare to attack us and we will not fire back.
These are rational positions. They make no claims about right or wrong. The huge majority of Israeli's would agree with this position. The nay-sayers would also agree in principal, but disagree in practice because of a lack of confidence that Hamas would abide by the agreement.
Now, Hamas in Gaza has a different position. It seems that their position is: We will destroy Israel and we will use any and all resources at our command to do so. Unfortunately, the corollary is that anything we say or do is toward this goal, even if it seems to be otherwise.
Only a clear statement denying the desire to destroy Israel can be taken at face value.
Now you might disagree with my assessment of their position. Perhaps I'm wrong, but at a minimum, these are the words that are used in their media, presentations and declarations. As a rationalist, Occam's razor suggests that we believe their own statements. Otherwise, we are left in a position of claiming that they don't understand what they are saying, or that they are intentionally lying in order to gain some benefit, or that they are idiots. I don't believe that they are idiots, or that they have a reason to lie. Let's take their own words at face value.
By the same argument, the Israeli position has been presented and talked about ad-infinitum. If you believe that Israel has a different position, then you will need to explain why they don't express it in clear language the way that Hamas and Fatah do so eloquently.
By the way, this is exactly the same position in which the USA and Al-Quida find themselves.
Rationally, if Israel or the USA were to unilaterally change their basic position, then they would be agreeing to be destroyed or at best conquered. This seems to be an untenable option.
If Hamas or Al-Quida were to change their basic position, then their people would live in peace and they would need to find other outlets for their energies. To the western world, the obvious outlet is to invest in industry and the quality of living. So what's wrong with this option?
So, given that Hamas has decided to shoot hundreds of rockets and mortars at Israel, what should Israel do?
Sitting back and doing nothing is fine as long as you are willing to play palestinian roulette. At some point, people are going to get hurt and/or die. It is indeed a Chanuka miracle that no-one has yet been hurt.
IMHO, the best option is to capture the Hamas leadership. Perhaps the new leaders will be interested in building infrastructure and sending their children to school in order to learn a trade. This option is the best for Hamas, but probably one of the most expensive for Israel, because we value our soldiers lives and the lives of the non-combatant palestinians.
The second best option is just to kill those leaders instead of capturing them. Assuming appropriate knowledge of their whereabouts, they can be bombed or assassinated. Good for Israel because of reduced casualties. Bad for Palestinians who get caught in the cross fire. Good for the majority of Gazan's who are left alone.
The worst option is to try and capture Gaza. High casualties all around and no gain for anyone.
I am reminded of a analogy. Some people keep very large, scary dogs. Now some big dogs are all bark and no bite. A burglar might be afraid to entry the house, but once the dog proves that it will not bite, there is no deterrent. If the dog does bite, then burglars will avoid that house and go looking for softer targets. Israel and the USA have a very big bark, but the impression is that they have no bite. Perhaps the western world needs to bite every once in while. In the long run, there will be fewer attacks and less overall damage on both sides.
The shoe is going to fall sometime in the next few weeks. I applaud the Israeli control over their forces. It is very hard to wait until the time is right. I pray that the leadership will choose a good time to act and that the action will be overwhelming and not just a reaction test.