Article on Hamas for C11

I have an article up at Culture11 on the “rationality” (means-end rationality not the rationality of their goals/ends in mind) of Hamas. The link is here. Big ups to political editor extraordinaire James Poulos.

A sneak peak:

There is a method to the madness of Hamas that comports with this reality. Hamas seeks to fight in the only way it can win, given the military, economic, and political disparity between the two countries. Whatever else one thinks, Hamas is rational enough — in its means, if not its goals — to fight in the way that maximizes both its advantages and Israel’s disadvantages simultaneously. So the more Hamas militants and/or Gaza civilians are killed (up to an extreme point, of course), the more Hamas achieves tactical, asymmetric success against Israel — leading to a victory for Hamas that further delegitimizes Fatah and moderate Arab regimes like Egypt’s.

The reality in question being irregular insurgent warfare against a conventionally armed nation-state.

The implication (left implied) for Israel is a counter-intuitive one. The argument is that Hamas should be brought into the political process as a way to neutralize them and shift the “Low-Intensity Conflict” in the long run to their favor. Because Israel wins fights against nation-states.

Take Hezbollah who either won or fought to a draw (depending on your pov) their short war with Israel in 2006. After that conflict, Hezbollah was brought formally into The Lebanese State. Hezbollah has not (so far as I know) changed their official position on seeking the total destruction of the state of Israel. But has Hezbollah joined in this round of conflict? Not yet and I don’t think they will. They have a stake now in the (admittedly ramshackle) Lebanese state. They are now in a coalition government and their actions as they realized in 2006 could and did cause Lebanese not of their ethnic background/political persuasion to get killed. That’s bad for their legitimacy.

The same I think could be done with Hamas. They won’t change their rhetoric on destroying Israel but the logic of statecraft begins to takeover at some point. The Peace Process to date has been under the assumption that the Palestinians get a state when they act right (accept Israel, stop attacks, etc.).  What if that is backwards?  What if the state has to be built first in order that (from Israel’s pov) the long term strategy will play to their advantage and leave the Palestinians having to take up state buildup?

Just a reminder that I blog fairly frequently at Culture 11’s Faith Blog, Credo. Here is a piece up today on Anglo-Catholicism.

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Published in: on January 7, 2009 at 1:12 am  Comments (2)  
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It’s a great article, Chris. I think you may be on to something regarding the need for a Pali State prior to any meaningful peace. It is much easier, after all, to form a political agreement with a State rather than a non-state pseudo-military quasi-terrorist organization.

    Or, as Larison posited not long ago, perhaps leaving Hamas to simply mis-manage government long enough would be enough of a death blow to the group, albeit a somewhat less dramatic one.

  2. e.d.

    thanks. i think Daniel makes a good point. Though I’d add that by not recognizing Hamas in the election and then supporting a de facto Fatah-led coup in West Bank and then now this round of fighting in Gaza via Israel, (plus economic blockade w/ Egypt), the message is clear: you (Hamas) will never be accepted. And that sends them I think back in the only direction they know how really: violence. They just represent too large of a constituency to simply be rubbed out or ignored seems to me.


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