Hamas Is Moving Toward War With Israel

Why, then, is Hamas provoking a new war? Part of the answer, of course, is ideology. Hamas believes that the deity is on its side, that victory is inevitable, and that martyrdom is a substitute for good military strategy and strength. Hamas is also indifferent to casualties, material damage, and the suffering of its own people. Its goal is total victory, Israel's destruction, and the mass murder of Israeli Jews.

But none of that is new. What is new is a shift in the strategic situation. The recent upheavals in the Arab world have emboldened revolutionary Islamists and Hamas most of all. Its close ally, the Muslim Brotherhood, can operate freely in Egypt. There is much support for Islamism in the Egyptian army. And even the "moderate" presidential candidate Muhammad ElBaradei said that Egypt would go to war if Israel attacked the Gaza Strip.

Does Egypt want war with Israel? Of course not. But Hamas calculates -- and, of course, it often miscalculates -- that crisis with Israel will increase its support from Egypt and perhaps even create a situation where Cairo intervenes on its side on some level.

At a minimum, thousands of Egyptian volunteers, mobilized by the Brotherhood, might fight on its side, money would be raised in Egypt on its behalf, and large amounts of arms would flow across the border.  Then, too, international public opinion could be mobilized against Israel with tales -- often phony -- of atrocities as happened last time. And the Palestinian Authority (PA), ruling the West Bank, could be shamed and subverted. While the PA can claim to be delivering some prosperity -- which the West thinks is all people care about -- Hamas can deliver heroism and jihad.

Thus, a dangerous crisis is being developed that could bring renewed war within two years and possibly far less time.  It's a crisis for which U.S. and European policy is totally unprepared. And their most likely response -- demands for a ceasefire and criticism of Israel -- would benefit Hamas.