Israeli analyst Barry Rubin has written a brilliantly pithy analysis of Hamas tactics that he calls the “suicide strategy.” The article begins:
One of the most important things to understand about how the Middle East works is what I’ll call the suicide strategy. It can be described as follows:
I will start a war that I cannot win in order to create a situation where the other side wrecks my infrastructure and kills my people. Then I will lose militarily but win the battle. How? By the following means:
–I’ll kill some people on the other side and do some damage to it. Since they are weaker and less brave than I am they will give up. The longer the war, the more likely they are to look for a way out even if that involves many concessions on their part. Using terrorism against their civilians reinforces this tactic.
–By suffering, and magnifying that suffering using a generally sympathetic Western media, I will make the other side feel sorry for me and oppose their own leaders who will be portrayed as bullying, bloodthirsty, and imperialistic.
–The specter of war, suffering, and especially civilian casualties, will drive the ‘international community’ to press my adversaries to give in, stop fighting (even if I continue it on a lower level), let me survive, and even give me benefits.
That’s how you stage a losing war but end up the winner.
This strategy has often worked against a Western adversary or Israel. It won’t work against fellow Arabs or Iran because those forces couldn’t care less how much damage and how many civilian casualties they inflict. Their mass media are under a large element of state control and they are not responsive to public opinion. Hamas is now using this approach in the current war against Israel, though less effectively than in previous circumstances. True, it is getting some in the West to blast Israel as using excessive force or force at all.
Read the rest here.