The Gaza Ground Assault Rages — But Will it Work?

Meanwhile the international diplomatic activity in quest of a ceasefire was little short of frenetic. Saturday night the United States vetoed a Libyan proposal for an immediate ceasefire in an emergency UN Security Council meeting. On Monday the suddenly self-important French president Nicolas Sarkozy -- who, like the Security Council, never perceived an emergency even in months when hundreds of rockets fell on Israelis -- is due in Israel to try and get Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to call the war off. The Security Council is meeting again on the crisis on Wednesday.

U.S. President George Bush, too, proclaimed a ceasefire the order of the day but with certain conditions, stating in his radio address on Saturday that "The United States is leading diplomatic efforts to achieve a meaningful cease-fire that is fully respected ... promises from Hamas will not suffice -- there must be monitoring mechanisms ... to help ensure that smuggling of weapons to terrorist groups in Gaza comes to an end." Israeli estimates of how long the ground operation will be allowed to last varied from a few days to -- at most -- a couple of weeks, before Barack Obama becomes the new U.S. president.

Future historians will have to ponder why, as Israel finally exercised its right to self-defense after its citizens were bombarded for, all told, eight years by a genocidal terrorist organization, the near-universal response was to seek to impose a ceasefire as quickly as possible.

Undoubtedly, Operation Cast Lead entails loss of life -- as has every other military operation since the dawn of history. The United States itself has been engaged for almost six years in military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan that have surely taken their toll in blood. President Bush has not been amenable to ceasefires and "monitoring mechanisms" as ways of dealing with Saddam Hussein, al-Qaeda, and the Taliban. The latest on Hamas, no less vicious than those groups, is that it spent the weekend murdering 35 Palestinians after breaking the legs or hands of 75 others over the course of the week.

For now, we can say the reasons for what is in effect -- or in Libya's case for example, clearly also in intent -- nothing less than a push to rescue Hamas, include Arab economic (and particularly oil) power, Western and particularly European antimilitarism verging on pacifism, glorification of the Palestinians, and anti-Israelism/anti-Semitism. Most disturbing is that even Israeli officials are reportedly open to proposals for international monitors despite the manifest failure of this "solution" in the past -- or, even worse, to the idea of replacing Hamas with another terrorist organization, Fatah, that has been no less busy than Hamas instilling violent anti-Israeli hatred in generations of Palestinian children.

One can at best hope, but not be certain or anything close to it, that the long-overdue Israeli ground invasion will succeed in rescuing Israel from the Blitzkreig and that lives will not be lost in vain.