Less than a month ago, I wrote a post called, "To War! To War! Fredonia's Going to War!" Here is an excerpt of what I wrote then:
If you are looking for predictions, I would say that this will be less of a disaster for Israel than the Second Lebanon war, but will be a disaster none the less. The major goal of the war is to stop the rocket fire from Gaza. That won't happen without another cease-fire agreement. For there to be a cease-fire agreement, there has to be a motivation for Hamas to sign a cease-fire agreement. Israel is not providing it with the motivation now. Israel will neither destroy nor significantly weaken Hamas; it may set it back in terms of armaments, but Israel has little room to maneuver. The siege on Gaza has strenghthened Hamas, and if they hold out against Israel – and they will – they will be strengthened even more.
There is, however, another war goal that Israel can meet in the short run. That is to wreak havoc in Gaza, to kill a lot of Arabs, to show them who's boss, to avenge national honor, to "do something" when our settlements are under attack. That will make the Israelis feel better, and that is nothing to sneeze at. The difficulty is that if the rockets keep on coming – as they did in the case of the Second Lebanese War – then Israelis will feel increasingly frustrated. And they will take it out on Kadima in the next elections and hand the government to Netanyahu and the Likud party, which has been sinking in the polls. So this is the Kadima's government second attempt to commit political suicide; the first attempt was the Second Lebanese War. I am betting that this time they will be successful.
OK, I got the above mostly right. True, there is more of a positive feeling after this war than after the Second Lebanese war, but not among everybody, certainly not among the right. Has the war strengthened Hamas? Maybe not in Gaza, but certainly in the West Bank.
I still think that there is a good chance that Bibi and the right will get elected, and that will be a sure sign that people are dissatisfied with the ambiguous ending of the war.
What else did I write a month ago?
So, here's the forecast:
The offensive will go on for some time. Resistance, if there is any, will melt. We will not reoccupy all of Gaza, just enough to fulfill the "do something" criterion of success. At some point we will declare that we have accomplished the major goals of the offensive, and we will negotiate, through some third party, another cease fire. Mission accomplished, with lots of casualties to their side, and the rockets continuing to fall on our side.
That's the best case scenario.
The worst case scenario for Israel is that Hamas fights better than anticipated. That will mean that Israel will get bogged down the way that powerful countries get bogged down in urban guerilla warfare. If the objectives are limited, and if the fighting is limited to parts of Gaza, then Israel's loss will be relatively minor. If things spread – and they will if civilian casualties are heavy – then we are back to the Lebanon fiasco. Hamas may be counting on it; as it is, the war serves the short-term interests of Hamas and the Israeli government.
I gave the "worst-case" scenario because I did not know well how Hamas would fight. The results, apparently, were mixed. But the important thing to note is that the rockets did not stop till after the cease-fire.
On the whole, I was right. And this is what is depressing.
For if I, with no real military expertise or training, could get it right, what about the military experts, and war-mongers, who got it wrong?