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Short Friday notes after yesterday's long report on Israel
One of these notes is very personal
Happy Friday TAT followers,
It’s been an eventful week here, both good and bad. Still recovering from a concussion and other injuries has slowed my pace at the worst possible time. It took a couple of days to write yesterday’s long report on those to blame for the barbaric HAMAS attack on Israel. I strongly suspect next couple days will become the beginning of far more intensity that will not abate for a long while.
As a personal insight, my second oldest lives in northern Israel and last night’s rocket attack in the north was approximately 5 miles from her. She is safe and like nearly all Israeli’s, pitching in with volunteering in any way possible, like packing care packages for soldiers fighting in Gaza and coordinating support for families who have needs with parents mobilized. My military background, especially the portion of my career fully engaged in CT, knows all too well, how grateful we are for the deep involvement of those who support us at home. This is how the “better angels of our nature” behave when humanity is horrifically under assault.
Like most parents, my first reaction was a few hard, painful tears, fearful for my baby girl’s safety. After those tears abated a few minutes later, I realized that not all of those tears derived from just fear, but how proud of her I am, for buckling down and pitching in, as is the historical, patriotic norm in the Jewish state. Earlier in the week, she called hysterical at the sound of her first real incoming rocket warning siren. As she peered out the window, cars stopped in the road with drivers, all calmly exiting and lying down at the base of the buildings lining the street.
As a relatively new dual citizen of the US and Israel, this was her first encounter with the daily reality of Israeli citizens, born and raised in the country. She immediately calmed down as we talked and I explained to her what I could offer from my own personal experiences in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and a few other less than hospitable corners of the globe. Since, she is now as cool, calm and collected, as so with many veteran Israelis of the nation’s seemingly endless, violent history, I am now, slightly more comfortable, although still naturally worried, painfully so.
While that there will be an enormous “political tar and feathering” of the current far-right administration of Netanyahu later, for the time being there will be impressive emotional unity. It’s amazing what flying bullets and rockets can do to make allies of political enemies. A common old army saying is that “there are no atheists in foxholes.”
The Bibi Netanyahu administration is well deserving of the condemnation. As described in yesterday’s long TAT paper, the actual Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir (for Americans, he would be something akin to a mix of Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller), was banned by the IDF from doing the mandatory military service required of all citizens.
He was banned due to his outspoken, violent, right wing extremist views. Bibi, due to the pressure from the extreme right-wing ascendents to his administration, demanded Ben-Gvir have the Ministry responsible for protecting Israel. He and his fellow far right extremists focused on ethnic, religious and racial issues against Palestinians instead of doing his job. He has plenty of like immoral views as do other important parts of Bibi’s cabinet. A true disgrace for a nation born of the Holocaust.
The US Sixth Fleet
An article this morning in Israel Hayom, explained the message our US Sixth Fleet vessels steaming in support of Israel, in the Eastern Mediterranean is intended to send. Yes, they are quite accurate that Iran is a primary target of the message of support for Israel. What they don’t mention is that this message is also directed at Putin, who is lighting the fuse on a series of global diversions like Syria, Serbia, Armenia/ Azerbaijan, Niger, and other central African republics.
As discussed in my long piece yesterday explained, Putin does this to siphon off attention from his genocidal war against his neighbors in Ukraine. His subservience to Xi also matters and China will this understand this powerful message as well. Here’s the way the pressure works in the China down to HAMAS and Hezbollah “kill chain:”
HAMAS and Hizbollah are Iran’s attack dogs, trained, equipped and supplied for decades by Iran’s intelligence services, such as the Quds Force.
Iran is Putin’s attack dog, mostly in the region but with known lethal operations as far away as Buenas Aires.
Putin is the dirty tricks “go to” for Xi, who is now, the senior partner in the Russian/ Chinese relationship. For example, Putin’s state sponsored Wagner Group is heavily invested in central Africa and usually invested in strategic gains for Xi’s, China Dream. Like with most Russian Mafia rules, Putin, “owes” Xi.
What comes next in Gaza and beyond?
While that operational details are few and far between, there will be an assault on Gazan HAMAS. It will be focused exclusively on gathering intelligence, while the IDF does their very best to remove every vestige of HAMAS’ operational tools/ infrastructure and the butchers of women, the elderly and children. In the fighting, the carnage will look much like Russia’s use of war crimes against the Ukrainian people. There will be carnage not possible to internalize for most, even those like me who have witnessed such first-hand, painfully so.
The IDF, like US and NATO forces will also take every possible precaution to protect the innocent Palestinian people caught between cowardly, barbaric terrorists who use them for human shields and the IDF, on a righteous mission. Like the Israelis murdered during the attack, the rank and file, Palestinian people are innocent victims.
Last night, I volunteered to co-present with a couple of other experts for a dear friend, terrorism expert who is teaching in the UT, University of Texas System. One expert was Israeli and the other from the National Defence University of Pakistan. We discussed the current situation in Israel. One of the topics that we all agreed on fervently was to demand of media, the truth without bias and without making turning this into an exercise in “both sides being equal.”
Diplomacy is for diplomats. When bullets fly, nothing but pure truth matters, especially for innocent victims. The myths and propaganda floating around in media, especially in pro-Putin, MAGA media is destructive to those at risk of dying in this conflict. These very bright students often asked better questions of our panel than I regularly see in scholarly national security papers, reports and panels. To a person, everyone, wanted to know what they could do, and all agreed that taking a stand for truth in their daily interactions, personal or in social media, was a key tactic of support. Bravo to this next generation.
What to look for and what to be careful of in the coming weeks
Keep a close eye on the actions of those named in the chart from yesterday’s article. These entities are all partially to blame for the HAMAS barbarism. They are in descending order:
Bibi’s extreme right government
There are several others but those above have primary blame. There is plenty to go around.
There is a tone of desperation in Putin’s use of Iran and their thuggish extremists to settle scores and create diversions. We must also be cautious of being sucked into a position that Putin has long desired, seeing US and or NATO troops in contract with Russian forces. In this case, air assets from the USS Gerald R. Ford and other land-based US aviation resources run the most risk of triggering this engagement.
Putin needs popular support at home and about the only way he can achieve it at the moment, is to trigger the historic Russian paranoia of being attacked by the West. This is also a critical reason for making NATO the primary support for Ukraine, but to not engage in actual combat, unless there is no other choice.
Any media saying that there is no smoking gun to Iran’s complicity are all wrong. Of course, most nation-state support for Israel will try and diffuse the situation in order to prevent triggering a wider conflict and the mandatory pre-agreed, responses to aggression. This may be unsatisfying to most but is a wise, well-considered response. The world is at inflection point and all major and minor powers are nervous already, due to the dramatic geo-political realignment, ongoing since the end of the Cold War.
Look for opportunities to support Israeli and Palestinian innocents. As reported widely yesterday, Israel has demanded an evacuation of all Palestinian civilians to the southern part of Gaza, where they are safer and can be provided humanitarian relief.
The densest portion of Gaza is the northern end of this tiny strip of land, approximately 25 miles long and an average of about 4 miles wide. Also, border crossings to Egypt are in the south.
The urban combat in the northern part of Gaza, after the IDF advance will be brutal by any standard. The IDF will show little mercy against combatants, and I support this tactic.
Let’s also dispel with the myth of “occupation” before any of this propaganda takes a larger toll on consciences of outsiders. Israel has not occupied Gaza since 2005. HAMAS took over around 2007 and their charters, covenants etc. have been nothing but scorched earth approaches to Israel. It comes down to HAMAS and Hizbollah refusing to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Their rhetoric usually sounds something like, “kill the Jews and drive them into the sea.”
According to HAMAS and like thugs, there can be no two-state solution, which was the agreement between both sides for decade and fully supported by the US. Bibi’s Cabinet uses much the same rhetoric, especially the now disgraced Minister of National Defence, Itamar Ben Gvir. Also, the known racist and homophobic Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, who was actually arrested for planning and participating in a terrorist attack to blow up a bridge. Those charges were dropped but he was arrested with 700 liters of petrol.
What we need but will not get from the US and NATO communities, is proactive narrative management, that is the best solution to defeating these and other imminent false narratives. There will also be limited assistance with defensive influence due to a backward, dysfunctional community responsible for this. This is another reason for supporters of Israel and innocent Palestinians to work together to push back against these other mis/ disinformation campaigns.
Ultimately, we must carefully watch the coordination and linked but disguised connections between the nations and terrorist organizations in the chart above. Every single nation or organization represents the most inhumane treatment of human beings in decades. Russia commits murder globally and at home against dissenters. Putin is also engaging in genocide in Ukraine. China is a literal, genocidal nation against their own citizens while concurrently supporting war crimes in subservient states and Iran, murderer of their own citizens for not obeying the theocrats’ medieval and aberrant version of Shia Islam. We all know the barbarism of Hizbollah and HAMAS.
Finally, don’t give Putin what he wants, which is less focus for his genocidal war in Ukraine. Between his savagery in Ukraine and his push for more war crimes by allies globally, he must be stopped. There is no other answer. When all is said and done, the global situation is in a way similar to WW II. It was time for the entire world to stand against greed and fascism, whether in Moscow, Beijing, Delhi, Tehran or from every violent extremist movement on the planet. Only seeing things clearly and a strong moral backbone can achieve this. After all, we don’t call the WW II generation, “the Greatest Generation,” great for no reason. They withstood a depression, global fascism, nuclear threats and the Cold War. Most of us had this DNA passed down to us, and it is part and parcel of our national identity. We are capable of putting evil down, if we work together. We never have a better chance than right now.
My very best for everyone’s weekend,