Gaza Sitrep With Prof. Mearsheimer
The day before Thanksgiving Judge Nap did an interview with John Mearsheimer. The first 18 minutes or so deal with genocide and war crimes—what does genocide actually mean, is that what’s going on in Gaza, etc.? He also dwells on the Chinese view of the situation in Palestine and their view of the US role. That’s all interesting, but then the discussion devolves into a kind of Sitrep, and Mearsheimer has some interesting things to say on that score—things which may not be so apparent as the earlier portions re China. I’ve done a transcript of that Sitrep portion, but let me preface the transcript with a few remarks that I hope will be relevant.
Mearsheimer puts a lot of stock in a WSJ article that he cites—and I think for good reason. However, my assumption is that a guy of Mearsheimer’s stature—even though he’s an academic—probably also has very good sources who are close to the situation. So, while he may be citing the WSJ article for public consumption, he may also have backing for the WSJ reporting from other sources that he chooses not to name or even hint at.
I also think his references to Turkish support for Hamas’ financial operations are significant. That doesn’t necessarily mean actual Turkish money flowing to Hamas, but just the financial infrastructure in a relatively secure setting is important. Moreover, Mearsheimer’s remarks about the relative financial health of Israel and Hamas go some way to explaining the step by step, patient approach that the rest of the world is taking. It’s impossible to listen to what Mearsheimer has to say and not come to the conclusion that the long term does not favor either Israel or the American Empire. In a similar way to the American Empire’s war on Russia, the patient approach—as opposed to rushing in, full tilt, with an all out military response—may prove more effective in that long term, and more debilitating to the American Empire’s global hegemony.
AN: For all the innocent civilians that the IDF is killing, have they really even made a dent so far into Hamas fighters?
JM: I've been thinking hard about this over the past week. We're six weeks into this campaign and I think the conventional wisdom is that the Israelis are doing quite well and they're eventually going to solve the problem that they face. I think, if you look carefully at the reports in the mainstream media in the United States, this is not true. The Wall Street Journal just had a big piece that said that out of the 30,000 Hamas fighters in Gaza the Israelis have killed 1,000. Think about that! They've killed 1,000 out of 30,000 after six weeks--that's a very small number! Furthermore, it's quite clear that they have not destroyed the tunnel network. This is not to say they haven't destroyed a few tunnels and sealed some openings to some of the tunnels, but there's no evidence they've systematically torn apart the tunnels in Northern Gaza.
Furthermore, they haven't found any of the people who were captured by Hamas. That was a total of 240 people. They haven't found any of them, and the Wall Street Journal was reporting that the Israelis are now getting ready to head down into the southern part of Gaza to deal with Hamas down there. You say to yourself, well, they've only killed 1,000 out of 30,000 Fighters up in the north--and you would assume they started in the north because that was the main area where Hamas was located--and now they're going down into the South? And the Journal reports that the IDF believes that going south is going to be even more difficult than the operation in the North!
And then you start saying to yourself, what are they going to do? Are they going to bomb Southern Gaza the way they bombed Northern Gaza? Remember, they forced all of those civilians in Northern Gaza to move to Southern Gaza, so there are a huge number of civilians in Southern Gaza. What are they going to do, launch another punishment campaign? I don't think they can get away with that, and if they do it will be an act of war that really ends up killing massive nbers of civilians.
So I think the Israelis are actually between a rock and a hard place here. I don't think they're in good shape in Gaza, and we haven't even touched on the situation inside of Israel. You want to remember there are 200,000 displaced people inside of Israel. These are 200,000 Israelis--some from the Lebanon border where Hezbollah's launching attacks, and some from Southern Israel where there's the problem involving Gaza. So a lot of displaced people. They've mobilized 350,000 troops. This has to be hurting the economy big time. So I think the Israelis are in a quite bad situation at this point in time--contrary to what is the conventional wisdom.
AN: How many deaths are too many deaths?
JM: well, I mean, the normal answer to that would be one death. But, I mean, the numbers here are really very high, and this is doing enormous damage to Israel's reputation and it's doing enormous damage to America's reputation. The idea that you can go in there and kill this many civilians--these people are defenseless! Not only are you killing them, you're starving them, and you're preventing humanitarian aid from coming in for the most part. ... for the most part very little hanitarian aid is getting in there. This is a situation that I think sickens your average person just watching what's happening.
AN: Here's the Jordanian ambassador to the United States explaining what has happened to field hospitals constructed by the Jordanians and others in southern Gaza, to service the large numbers of people that have been chased down there by the bombardment up north.
Q: I understand there was an attack against a field Hospital. Who carried it out? What happened?
A: Okay we have a hospital, a military Hospital South of Gaza City, and now we're going to have a second one in the south of Gaza. Now, the one that was struck, there's a mosque next to the hospital and the Israeli military bombarded that mosque and people were running because they were injured, running to the hospital, and as our military people came out to help them they got also hit. So we had seven injured, and now they're okay, they've been taken care of. But we do not find it normal that all the hospitals are attacked. We do not find it normal that they're attacking civilians and collective punishment. This cannot go on, Margaret, this cannot go on!
AN: She makes a very compelling argument, Professor Mearsheimer.
JM: It's impossible to disagree with her. I mean, the Israelis are bombing hospitals, they're bombing ambulances--the evidence is very clear here. And the Israeli response to charges that they're bombing hospitals is that Hamas is located in those hospitals. You remember, there's this big hospital, the Al Shifa hospital, where the Israelis maintained that there was a major Hamas command post underneath the hospital, and there were Hamas fighters in the hospital, and that was the reason that they were moving in militarily to take over the hospital. Of course, when they got there they didn't find any Hamas soldiers and the command center that they said was underneath the hospital was not there. In fact, all they showed, that I've seen, is a photograph or a video of an opening to what they said was a hole in the ground underneath the hospital. That apparently was a entrance to some tunnel, but they could not provide any evidence this was a major military facility for Hamas. Anyway, if you believe that Hamas fighters are traveling in ambulances and Hamas fighters are locked up in hospitals or schools or mosques, then you can justify to yourself attacking those sites. So I think it's quite clear, and lots of people who are in Gaza are saying this, that there is no safe place--even places that are run by the United Nations are liable to be attacked.
AN: The Israeli economy is getting clobbered. There are 350,000 formerly productive middle class workers--lawyers, physicians, school teachers--who are now in the reserves and fighting or training to fight, so they're not producing. There are 200,000 displaced Israelis who don't have a place to live and don't have any income. Even the Palestinian laborers who had permission to leave Gaza and come into Israel and do manual labor obviously can't do any of that.
How are Hamas' finances looking?
JM: I would just also note to you, judge, that Israel depends very heavily on tourism and, needless to say, given the circumstances in Israel today there's not a lot of tourism, so the Israeli economy over the long term is in really bad shape. This war has been going on for 6 weeks and, as I said before, the Wall Street Journal reports that they've only killed a thousand out of 30,000 fighters. They still have to finish in the North and then when they're done in the North they're going to move to the South. This war is going to go on for a long time, and the economic problems that you describe now are just going to grow exponentially over time, one would think.
Now, turning to Hamas' finances, The Economist has a big story that says Hamas is doing very well in terms of its finances and, if anything, the situation is likely to improve. It's quite clear, if you look at The Economist article. that the center of that financial empire that you see mentioned in the headline, is in Istanbul, and the Turks--in particular president Erdogan--are very sympathetic to Hamas. It's quite clear that the Turks are helping Hamas with its finances and, to be honest, the article makes it clear that Hamas doesn't even need much help. It's a very sophisticated operation at the financial level. If the key financial people are located in Istanbul, it's very hard for the Israelis and for the Americans to do much to shut down Hamas' finances. So in terms of the economic dimension of this war, I think Hamas is doing much better than Israel is.
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