On October 7th 2023, the Hamas launched a war of annihilation. It is a simple undeniable fact. They have sworn to destroy Israel and its people, and demonstrated, in an act of mass murder, their serious intent to carry through on their vow. Israel is now faced with a stark reality that Hamas represents an immediate existential threat and must be dealt with decisively. The keys to victory are discipline and foresight. Two elements that seem to be desperately lacking among our political leadership.
The first element is discipline. Discipline in leadership, discipline in messaging, discipline in planning, and discipline in execution.
Discipline in leadership is simply the political leaders putting the country and the goal of victory above their own political careers. Netanyahu and his cronies have proven unable to set aside their base instincts and focus on the task at hand. The refusal to take responsibility, the tendency to release ill thought out politically divisive tweets, the insistence on keeping budgets focused on keeping coalition partners happy instead of investing in supporting the victims and the economy demonstrates a complete lack of discipline. Pet projects such as distributing weapons to untrained and un qualified private citizens need to be ended immediately. This lack of discipline undermines the little credibility this government had at home and abroad and is hinderance to a war of no-choice against an existential threat. A disciplined government will not only make better decisions but have the credibility to make hard decisions.
Discipline in messaging is critical. Israel’s ability to prosecute the war is dependent on international political support. The government and its representatives must constantly stick to a clear line of messaging and eliminate any stupid ill thought out statements. The message should be two very simple points. One, this is a war of no-choice against an immediate existential threat that cannot end until the hostages are released unconditionally and the Hamas’s military infrastructure and capabilities are completely destroyed. Two, the Hamas and their backers won’t stop at just Israel, they are threat to the entire western world. If Israel does not accomplish its mission, then the USA and Western Europe are at risk. Hamas shares an ideology with ISIS and Al-Qaeda and is working with Iran and Russia to undermine democracy, freedom and human rights. The government and all its representatives need to stick to these messages and anyone who publicly says stupid and provocative statements, like we should nuke Gaza, should be fired immediately.
Discipline in planning is breaking down the idea of victory into a series of clear and achievable tactical and strategic goals. Simply taking over the Gaza Strip is not enough. There needs to be a plan in place to motivate and enable the Palestinian people to detach themselves from the Hamas. The plan cannot be strictly military, it must be able to leverage military success into a viable and desired sustainable political result. The end result need to not only achieve a decisive military victory but enable the State Of Israel to maintain international legitimacy and relations that are key to its economy and future.
Discipline in execution is crucial. The professionals need to drive the process, without interference from unqualified amateurs. The IDF needs to adhere to the rules of war, which it does and continues to do. This is critical to the success of the overall mission. The ability to fight within the confines of the rules is a sign of professionalism and will not prevent the IDF from completing its missions. It will be critical to the ability of Israel to justify its conduct in the war as there will be an intense effort to prosecute Israelis after the war. Israel’s adherence to the rules of war is a strength, not a weakness. I am sure the people in Gaza do not feel that Israel has shown restraint, even in the event that they have.
Finally, Israel must show foresight and vision. There will be an “after the war.” Israel will have to rebuild its economy and relationships after the war. The Palestinian people are going nowhere. The idea of an indefinite occupation of Gaza as an endgame is a truly bad idea. A strictly military victory is at best a temporary one. Bad actors such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran will continue to ignore reality and sacrifice innocents from all sides. There needs to be a plan that will leverage a military victory to achieve a lasting political solution that will help Israel and its allies in the long run. A military victory that enables a long term political solution and that will give our allies a diplomatic win, will make Israel far stronger in the long run.
We have paid an incredibly expensive price the fantasies of our politicians. We need professionals who see reality as it is and have the discipline and vision to find the way forward.