In his Washington Post column, Charles Krauthammer lays out the two possible endgames in Israel’s war against Hamas: (A) a Lebanon-like cessation of hostilities to be supervised by international observers, or (B) the disintegration of Hamas rule in Gaza. Krauthammer spends the rest of the column arguing (in flawless fashion) why the only acceptable option is the latter.
According to Krauthammer:
The fall of Hamas rule in Gaza is within reach, but only if Israel does not cave in to pressure to stop now. Overthrowing Hamas would not require a permanent Israeli reoccupation. A transitional international force would be brought in to immediately make way for the return of the Palestinian Authority, the legitimate government whose forces will be far less squeamish than the Europeans in establishing order in Gaza.
The disintegration of Hamas rule in Gaza would be a devastating blow to Palestinian rejectionists, who since the Hamas takeover of Gaza have been the ascendant “strong horse” in Palestinian politics. It would be a devastating blow to Iran as patron of radical Islamist movements throughout the region, particularly after the defeat and marginalization of Iran’s Sadrist client in Iraq. It would encourage the moderate Arab states to continue their U.S.-allied confrontation of Iran and its proxies. And it would demonstrate Israel’s irreplaceable strategic value to the U.S. in curbing and containing Iran’s regional ambitions.
The danger, according to Krauthammer, is that, “Under tremendous international pressure — including from an increasingly wobbly U.S. State Department — the government of Ehud Olmert has begun hinting that it is receptive to a French-Egyptian cease-fire plan, essentially acquiescing to Endgame A.”
Krauthammer concludes his column this way:
The one-step-from-madness gangster theocracy in Gaza — just four days before the fighting, the Hamas parliament passed a Sharia criminal code, legalizing, among other niceties, crucifixion — is teetering on the brink. It can be brought down, but only if Israel is prepared — and allowed — to complete the real mission of this war. For the Bush State Department, in its last significant act, to prevent that with the premature imposition of a cease-fire would be not just self-defeating but shameful.
President Bush has been as stalwart a friend as Israel has had in the Oval Office. He understands, for both geopolitical and moral reasons, why our sustained support for Israel is crucial. That is doubly so in Israel’s war against terrorists organizations like Hamas, which is supported by Iran. Crippling Hamas would not only be a great good in its own right (destroying sadistic regimes is a mark of civilizational progress); it is crucial if there are any hopes for an authentic “peace process” to take place. We need more nations like Jordan and fewer like Hamas controlled Gaza.
Israel is carrying the freight in this conflict. What it needs from America is not blood or treasure; Israel simply needs us not to pressure her into a premature ceasefire that will undo the good that may be achieved.
The Bush presidency is ending with Iraq on the mend and al Qaeda and the Mahdi Army on the run. It would be a nice capstone to conclude Bush’s two terms in office with Hamas as a broken and discredited entity. Militant Islam is in retreat within the Islamic and Arab world; the defeat of Hamas would help accelerate that process.
Over the years, many in the West have grown weary in the face of the struggle in which we (and Israel) are engaged. But President Bush, to his everlasting credit, has been relentless in staying on the offensive against terrorism. In arguably his greatest speech – his September 20, 2001 address to a Joint Session of Congress – the President said this:
Our war on terror begins with al Qaeda, but it does not end there. It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.
In the final days of the Bush Presidency one such terrorist group, Hamas, may be on the verge of defeat, thanks to Israel. We need to allow Israel to complete this task and, in the process, keep faith with her in her struggle against evil.