Gaza is splitting the Israeli coalition government, per reports. Prime Minister Netanyahu appears to have accepted the Egyptian brokered cease fire with Hamas over the objections of his cabinet and without consulting them first. This spotlights a growing problem that seems to be changing modern warfare and especially, changing its results.
From Gaza, Hamas feels free to lob missiles into Israel. Some, but not many Israelis have been wounded and killed thereby, so far. Israel can grit its teeth and take it, lob missiles right back into Gaza tit for tat, or invade Gaza to shut off the sources of the bombardment. Ignoring these acts of war is obviously suicidal at some point. Europe and the U.S. upon whom Israel depends, will not allow Israel to return indiscriminate missile fire; the TV and Internet images of dead Palestinians and their children generate unacceptable public relations in those countries. So Israel invades from time to time in search of the rocket launchers and ammo. But these invasions are inevitably cut short by rising public revulsion as the dead bodies pile up, leving Gaza to fester until the next eruption repeats the scene. This keeps Hamas alive.
Hamas tries to assure that as many dead women and babies as possible result from this; it stores rockets in schools, locates military installations at hospitals ad fires rockets from residential neighborhoods. And it makes certain that the news media see every dead body and on occasion, fake ones too. This is broadcast all over the Internet. As result, Israel is winning every battle but it is losing the war. The world is shifting to support the Arabs against the Jews amidst rising antisemitism in many places.
The same pattern was seen in the latter part of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. The Americans and other coalition forces were subject to increasingly restrictive rules of engagement, the rules laid down by commanders governing when and how soldiers could shoot back or attack the enemy. The Taliban enemy had adopted the same tactics of hiding among civilians now seen in Gaza and every civilian death was featured on the news while soldiers’ casualties were often simply statistics. This has altered war; having a powerful military is not helpful if the politicians handcuff it for public relations reasons.
This is a handicap for countries that have an elected government; elections are in essence, public relations campaigns and leaders subject to them cannot, as Prime Minister Netanyahu obviously recognizes, afford a baby-killer image. Dictatorships and terrorists have fewer of such worries. Independent entities such as ISIS and in practice Hamas are effectively free of such concerns and may even revel in the torn bodies of Jewish babies.
This is reversing the old power equation; it used to be whoever had the most and the biggest guns that could pile up the highest heap of dead bodies was the winner, as demonstrated at the end of WWII. Now, the Internet and cell phones are turning those bodies into weapons for the other side.
War is hell, they say; that is because the machinery of war is intended to kill people and destroy property; it has no other application. And today, that offends people when they look at it. That may change when one of the dead kids is their own, but likely not until that occurs. And even then, the way the media handles it will affect the political impact of the event.
In summing up; a country had better avoid war these days unless it will occur out of sight as did Iraq and at first, Afghanistan or if visible, the public is prepared to witness and accept mayhem. With today’s conditions, winners are tending to be less those with the strongest military and more, those with the strongest stomachs.