Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Islamic State of Iraq, Syria, and Palestine

It's not a comparison that either of them would like, but Bashar al-Assad and Bibi Netanyahu have a lot in common. Both have the ability to use overwhelming military force against an Islam-motivated opposition. For Israel, it's top of the line military technology, while Bashar sometimes has to resort to cruder methods, like barrel bombs and sarin gas. But both of them had years to pound away at their opposition without much meaningful international protest. And yet in both cases, the opposition is still there.

Just where does Bibi expect to be with Hamas five years from now? Bashar al-Assad operated under no rules of war at all, and he couldn't crush his opposition. Israel has to at least try to put up a show of compliance, with the constraints that implies. And although the White House likes to compartmentalize these flare-ups, the non-state actors do talk to each other. Perhaps the most amazing thing is the hubris of people who believe they can calibrate these situations to produce the outcome that they want.