In pro-Israel circles, it has become fashionable of late to excoriate the West, and in particular Barack Obama, for pressing Israel to end Operation Protective Edge against Hamas prematurely, and to apply that cudgel against Binyamin Netanyahu as well for yielding to that pressure. A better approach would be to bare in mind the admonition from Conrad Crane and Andrew Terrill in Reconstructing Iraq, a pre-Iraq War planning document prepared at the US Army War College that was unfortunately ignored by the people who mattered, that "national objectives can often be
accomplished only after the fighting has ceased." While a simple analysis would suggest that leaving Hamas in place would clear the way for Hamas to rearm and thus subsequently conduct terror operations while removing Hamas entirely is the only way to prevent this. However, as Crane and Terrill indicated, what matters more than what is accomplished during operations is what happens following operations. Even if Hamas had been fully routed, post-operations attention would be needed to assure that whoever would fill the vacuum would not acquire arms and perpetrate terror at some future date. Douglas Lovelace emphasized this in his foreward to Reconstructing Iraq with the following, "Otherwise, the success of military operations will be
ephemeral, and the problems they were designed to
eliminate could return or be replaced by new and more
What all this suggests is that rather than browbeating over how much of the needed objectives were achieved by Operation Protective Edge, the effort now must be on preventing Hamas from acquiring any further materiel. Unfortunately, there is not much precedent for how to prevent a determined party from acquiring weapons. Further, the international community has given little reason for confidence that doing so is even a priority, let a lone that they would be competent at doing so while the movement of materiel into Gaza absent an immediate conflict would not attract the media attention that live conflict does. Yet, monitoring is what must be done, and no accomplishment during operations could have obviated that monitoring.