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Israel-Gaza Megathread #1

This is a megathread for any posts on the conflict between (so far, and so far as I know) Hamas and the Israeli government, as well as related geopolitics. Culture War thread rules apply.

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I live in a very progressive part of the US. I had a moment earlier today when I was surrounded by some Jewish community members/friends, and they were talking about how difficult it's been at work for them this week, because they have to put up with many of their coworkers saying "horrible things" (read: things that they don't agree with regarding the recent events). These community members are the same people who went spouting all manners of progressive talking points in so many inappropriate and unnecessary contexts over the past 5 or so years, from BLM, to covid, to Trump derangement syndrome, and so many more issues.

I'm sure I wouldn't like what these people's coworkers are saying, but I find myself feeling more than ever wanting to say to these people, "So what? You can't have everyone agree with you". I guess I'm now an expert at being around people who say things that make my blood boil. I put up with progressives at work, in my social circles, in my local community events, in stores, who constantly barrage me with their unsolicited progressive message. I not only never say anything anymore, but I act as if I'm completely unbothered. As a result, I find myself having very little sympathy, but a lot of empathy for these pro Israel progressives. I'm sure the irony is completely lost on them, but it makes me wonder how certain people can go through life with so little perspective that they feel so put upon by people with different viewpoints, yet cannot fathom that they may make others feel that way with their own, and that maybe they're wrong to do so.

What are their coworkers saying that your Jewish friends think is ‘horrible’? I can’t imagine people are saying genuine pro-Hamas stuff in a progressive regular workplace in the US, this isn’t a decolonial reading circle at Columbia.

Thankful as ever it would be considered weird to discuss politics seriously in my workplace.

I can’t imagine people are saying genuine pro-Hamas stuff in a progressive regular workplace in the US, this isn’t a decolonial reading circle at Columbia.

You might need to expand your imagination, though it's mostly as @haroldbkny says, stuff about Israel being to blame because of their oppression of the Palestinians. Me, I stay out of that, if there's going to be sectarian violence between the Muslims and the Jews at the workplace, I don't want to be around.

(Ha ha no, it's not really the Muslims who are posting stuff like that; our Muslims are not Palestinian and mostly not even Arab. It's white people)

I think in the context of the conversation I was having, it was mostly regarding people saying that Israel was to blame for any and all violence Hamas may do. It's also worth noting that some of the people involved work at universities, where such sentiment is more common.

How many of those Jews offended by this terrible statement were fully onboard with the George Floyd riots? The party line was that those riots were the language of the unheard, a reaction to oppression, and a civil rights movement. How many George Floyd's have Israeli police or soldiers made in Gaza?

A person who supported BLM riots, who is progressive politically, but has found a sudden sympathy for using military action to reduce wanton violence by a marginalized minority?

At my work I work with some religious Jews. To a one, they hated the riots.

You're singing my song. I've had to deal with this over, and over, and over, and over. It's tiresome. The most common incarnation is when they're not sure they can enjoy the work of this celebrity or that celebrity anymore because they did something that was insensitive to this group or that group.

You ask "how certain people can go through life with so little perspective that they feel so put upon by people with different viewpoints, yet cannot fathom that they may make others feel that way with their own, and that maybe they're wrong to do so." (I'm tired and so I'm using direct quotes.) The answer is that.. "it's just different". People who reason emotionally will use their emotions as a justification, and if you can get them to verbalize it, they'll say "it's just different."

All people see themselves as the center of their universe, but only a minority recognize that they do. If you see yourself as the center of the universe and have no cause to correct for that assumption, decisions of "right" and "wrong" will be based entirely on emotion, all the time. No meta level reasoning necessary, because it's not like your feelings can be wrong.

I'm not rational. But I admire rationalists. And that so many people flagrantly disregard the need to be less biased irritates me to no end.

If you see yourself as the center of the universe and have no cause to correct for that assumption, decisions of "right" and "wrong" will be based entirely on emotion, all the time. No meta level reasoning necessary, because it's not like your feelings can be wrong.

Not only that, but that person is also bombarded nearly non-stop with progressive messaging. Media, Universities, Federal Government, and social circles are all telling this person that they are 100% correct.

There’s a lot of wiggle room in “things that they don’t agree with”. The last week has had a lot of public statements that range from disagreements on strategy and ethics for a difficult ground war to questions related to the cycle of violence to ‘that live-streamed mass shooting was faked and if it wasn’t it was a political conspiracy‘ to literally complaining The Final Solution didn’t go far enough. The imprecision of the rest of your post does not really make clear what you’re engaged with.

There’s perhaps a steelman where even the most extreme sides of that spectrum did not have a even or honest application against the Red Tribe (both that Damore was not tolerated, and that the Blue Tribe equivalents to Alex Jones were), and I’d probably agree with you for a significant part of it. But outside of the irony of it all, I don’t really see how much info there is in people only noticing when their ox is on the line.

That tweet got memory-holed.

Because, from their perspective, they’re obviously right, and everyone else is obviously either evil or straight up insane. Yes, enough exposure to contrary evidence might change their minds. But they don’t have it.

Israeli Invasion Plans Target Gaza City and Hamas Leadership

From the New York Times’ report on the coming invasion (emphasis mine):

Tens of thousands of Hamas gunmen are thought to have entrenched themselves inside hundreds of miles of underground tunnels and bunkers beneath Gaza City and the surrounding parts of northern Gaza. Israeli military leaders expect that Hamas will attempt to impede their progress by blowing up some of those tunnels as Israelis advance above them, and by exploding roadside bombs and booby-trapping buildings.

Hamas also plans to ambush Israeli forces from behind by emerging suddenly from hidden tunnel openings dotted across northern Gaza, according to a Hamas officer who was not authorized to speak to the news media.

To make it easier for its soldiers to operate, the Israeli military’s rules of engagement have been loosened to allow soldiers to make fewer checks before shooting at suspected enemies, the three Israeli officers said, without giving further details.

The invasion was initially planned for the weekend, but was delayed by a few days at least in part because of weather conditions that would have made it harder for Israeli pilots and drone operators to provide ground forces with air cover, the officers said.

In addition to infantry, the Israeli strike force will include tanks, sappers and commandos, the officers added. The ground troops will be given cover by war planes, helicopter gunships, aerial drones and artillery fired from land and sea.

Hard not to see this turning into an unimaginable bloodbath. Tens of thousands of fighters? That tunnel guy’s YouTube video suggested they’d be extremely difficult to root out. I suppose all the hostages are living on borrowed time, if still alive. It promises to be a harsh look at the reality of modern urban warfare against a highly entrenched foe.

Are they really going to try a Fallujah? I wouldn't want to be a grunt on either side. This is going to be hell.

I will be amazed if there isn't some kind of tunnel-gassing or some other tactic used to kill the people in them before going in. International treaties be damned. Screw going down into those things.

Israel probably doesn’t have the capacity to clear tunnels by chemical warfare, and won’t in time to help the invasion.

The reason is simple- quantity. Successful chemical warfare requires tons and tons and tons of the stuff, even in a confined space. Israel almost certainly doesn’t have that much, we’d know if they did because it’s sufficiently capital-intensive that you can’t hide it. And while it has a relatively short time frame to produce(after all, civilian chemical plants produce similar chemicals all the time), we’re still talking about months and months. And Israel wants to go in soon.

but israel/IDF had known for years if not decades about these tunnels. You are saying they have prepared for this sort of thing at all, even as an contingent solution?

Their entire policy was based on not doing what they’re about to try to do.

I will be amazed if there isn't some kind of tunnel-gassing or some other tactic used to kill the people in them before going in. International treaties be damned. Screw going down into those things.

Several times during WWII, the US Army was faced with similar situations involving well-fortified Japanese emplacements. In some of these instances, like Fort Drum in Manila, combat engineers pumped in thousands of gallons of mixed diesel fuel and gasoline, followed by a timed incendiary charge. I think the more modern solution typically involves thermobaric weapons. I'm not aware of any treaty since that would prohibit either, but both seem like painful ways to go out.

Yes, I would think something like this is better. If you use any type of poison gas, after you deploy it, you will eventually have to clean it out, make it safe, and check out what's in there. A major pain in the ass and high risk of friendly casualties if you don't do it perfectly. If you use flammables or explosives, then you know it's safe after the stuff goes boom and it has a little time to cool down.

Goes along with the argument I read somewhere else - poison gas isn't used anymore because it isn't a very good weapon, not because its effects are so horrible or it's banned by treaty. It was probably possible to ban by treaty because it's not a very good weapon more than being horrible.

A good rule of thumb is that if US signs some treaty about avoiding given type of weapons, it means it’s ineffective, but if it doesn’t, it is useful and practical. Compare, for example, chemical weapons, which US agreed to not use, with land mines or cluster munitions, which very much are a part of US arsenal, despite existence of treaties banning these: US is just not a signatory to these.

Even more cynically, the treaties that US is not a signatory to, simply are not worth much in the first place: the signatories to these simply don’t expect to fight a serious war that would require using these, so commitment to not use them is not worth much, because they will likely disregard their obligations soon as they do find themselves in one. See, for example, Ukraine, which happily uses these, despite being a signatory to Ottawa treaty.

Yep, if you light the chemicals on fire, it's perfect legal and it works even better. Not too many airtight doors will withstand a fuel-air explosion in the next compartment.

How much ordinance would it take to turn the entire Gaza strip into Verdun? I doubt that Israel has enough in its stockpile (unless we're counting the nukes), but it could theoretically be done.

My guess is that Israel will advance to the sea along a narrow front through the middle of the strip, cutting the insurgents fortified in Gaza City off from supplies and humanitarian aid being brought in from the South. How many weeks worth of provisions do you think Hamas has stocked up underground?

I did the math before out of curiosity to see how many 155mm shells it would take to cover all of the Gaza strip with the lethal radius of at least one shell's explosion. It came out to around 52 million shells. If all 250 of Israel's m109 howitzers fired at their sustained rate of fire of one round per minute (and assuming no need for maintenance etc) it would take them around 144 days. I was looking at this just to get some idea of the scales involved in all this.

Judging by satellite imagery, there's enough farmland south of Gaza that the front doesn't have to be that narrow. There are towns like Al-Mughraqa in the way, but they are similar enough to Donbass suburbs that IDF could hire some Wagner instructors or even point teams.

Yeah, this is looking like Mariupol 2: No Electricity Boogaloo.

Is it possible that Israel have developed a smart even if cruel way to deal with tunnels with minimal costs to Israeli life?

Is it possible to gather data from the shelling to map them?

If they don't it will be bloodbath for Israel.

We shall see soon enough.

Apparently even chemical weapons / gas is unviable because the tunnels have airtight doors.

I'd still like to think Bibi is smarter than this, and that this is just bluffing. I recall him saying, years ago, that a key part of his strategy against Iran was them thinking "there's a crazy guy in Jerusalem willing to do anything".

Judge people by their actions. So far, Israel's tactic has been to starve, bomb and wear out the civilian population of Gaza. The endgame is clearly a massive ethnic cleansing. There are also rumors the US has offered Egypt monetary benefits to host at least a million Gazans in a "tent city". If I were Bibi, I'd act just like he has thus far. It's the smart, cost-effective strategy. Clearly, the status quo cannot continue and Israel is trying its level best to get rid of the Gaza civilian population. But doing so, even with the backing of the US, is harder than you might think given 24/7 media.

One last thing. One theme I've harped on is Bibi rhetorically boxing himself in. He has now set expectations very high that he may simply be forced to do things he knows are foolish because it would end his political career otherwise. I understand this sounds extraordinarily callous that a man in his position would be willing to sacrifice many lives to save his political skin, but I am no longer discounting any possibility.

Bad as his position is now, his position if 5,000 or 10,000 or more young Israeli men die in the invasion of Gaza will be much, much worse.

Hand to heart, what do you think his odds of remaining in the upper echelons of Israeli politics are? He has failed catastrophically, but if he executes the «flawed but reliable tough-minded leader carrying us through the uncertain times of crisis» move well… I am not sure it'll work. But also, that's much of his expertise and genius.

He needs the core security minded Likud voter, still.

If he can successfully win in Gaza with minimal loss of Israeli life, he might be OK. But that seems unlikely if he commits to an invasion.

Doesn't Bibi have that Berlusconi quality where you can get rubbished a dozen times but still bounce reliably back in time? Then again he's 73, but Berlusconi managed to hang on to some power almost to the end, too.

Is there a Hamas steelmanning available?

If you mean morally: What would you do if you stood to lose everything? Not just your life, not just your family, not just money, but the ultimate goal for which your entire life and your movement struggled? If decision makers far away, who don't care about you and won't listen to you if you talk to them, are about to make choices that will forever foreclose the dream that you have dedicated your life to making a reality? What wouldn't you do in the struggle for the most important thing in the world?

Saudi Arabia was about to normalize relations with Israel, Iran might have gotten a fresh Peace Deal and stopped funding for Palestinian militias. Those two events would have been the absolute death knell for the Palestinian cause, it's not clear where they go from there. The goal of this action in the medium term isn't to achieve a just peace, it is to prevent the creation of a permanent and unjust peace. The only tool Hamas had to reach decision makers in SA and Iran was the sympathy of their populations, to obtain that they needed the Israelis to commit atrocities. And not just the garden variety bulldozings and arrests that we've all grown unfortunately rather used to, something dreadful and spectacular. Which brings us to...

If you mean strategically: Israel is now doing exactly what Hamas intended for them to do. Don't be under the impression that Hamas' plan was for Israel to surrender, or that they expected Israel to take this lying down and just let Gaza alone. Hamas' leadership absolutely intended to have all of this happen. Their goal was for Israel to do exactly what Israel is now doing. They wanted Israel to launch a ground invasion of Gaza, and they don't care about civilian casualties on their own side. Hamas is preventing civilians from fleeing the fighting, they want civilians to suffer. This upcoming fight was their goal all along.

And now they have "tough-minded" Israelis and westerners patting themselves on the back about how smart they are for giving Hamas what they wanted. On this very forum, numerous posters argue that the invasion is the smart strategy, that only a fool wouldn't invade Gaza under these circumstances. The only way they were going to achieve such a blow that Israel would not merely fall into their intended trap, but rush into it, that Israelis would openly congratulate themselves for "finally meeting tit with tat."

Leaving the steelman aside, I don't know that any of that means this war is going to work out "well" for Hamas. The fortunes of war are always a gamble, and world public opinion is fickle and built on the actions of people far outside of Hamas' control. But it is meaningful that all actors are now dancing to Hamas' tune, doing what Hamas intended them to do. Consider this comment below from @Chrisprattalpharaptr in context. This is Israel's 9/11, and they are reacting as such, there is literally no one in the USA today who defends what we did after 9/11 as wise or well considered. I'm not sure the hijackers or their masters are better off for it, but the USA is certainly worse off. I suspect a similar outcome here: Hamas might not win, but Israel will certainly lose.

I am pro-Israeli here, but I can easily steelman this. Yes, what Hamas did was your cookie-cutter attempt at ethnic cleansing. You see, the way ethnic cleansing works is to do horrible shit to women, children and elderly and then proudly shout that from the rooftops. If you instill enough fear in the opposing ethnicity, they will vacate the premises on their own.

This is how it was done by Israelis themselves in 1948, they massacred the village of Deir Yassin and then run around literally broadcasting to rest of Arabs that they are next. By the way the extremist Israeli militia that participated in Deir Yassin massacre called Irgun was led by Menachim Begin, later a prime minister of Israel who called the massacre as "splendid act of conquest".

There are numerous other examples of successful ethnic cleansing. I can mentioned the Operation Storm during Balkan Wars in 1990s, where Croats ethnically cleansed Serbs from their territory with tacit approval of western coalition, the international tribunal even rubberstamped that it was actually not ethnic cleansing despite hundreds of thousands Serbs being effectively expelled. The formula was the same: run in, massacre anybody who refused to leave: mostly infirm, children, elderly etc. Then just enjoy wailing of their wives running before you, as they are just cheap but very authentic signal booster for those Serbs who did not get the message so far to run on the double. And now you have nice ethnically cleansed Croatia, part of EU and Eurozone, full of nice beaches and good food prepared by former soldiers that participated in the operation, with main perpetrator of the ethnic cleansing - general Ante Gotovina - considered as national hero.

Another successful ethnic cleansing is that of Germans after WW2, nobody now gives a shit about atrocities they experienced in East Prussia, currently Russian enclave or that they were expelled from Poland because Stalin literally moved Poland couple of hundreds kilometers to the west, which included German cities, or Czechoslovakia when Germans lived there for literally centuries. Nobody gives a shit about those Germans now, there is no wound on the soul of Czechs, Slovaks, Poles or Russians, this is the reality now and they will live happily ever after - until they themselves are ethnically cleansed sometimes in the future possibly.

As the last example I present the genocide of a tribe living on Catham Islands called Moriori. They had unique pacifist culture of nonviolence that was able to survive in isolation. That is until they got in contact with Māori people in 1835 - in paradox of history Māori themselves were the Moriori ancestors. Long story short, imagine slavery and genocide with the last descendand of the culture died in 1933, around 100 years after contact with Māori. Again, nobody gives a shit about Moriori, because there is now literally nobody to give a shit about, they are history complete with their unworkable pacifist culture. And Māori are now respected minority of New Zaeland complete with land rights recognition and all that.

And I think I will also close with another last example I ninjaedited here, that of ethnic cleansing of Armenians in Nagorno Karabakh as it is very pertinent to the topic at hand. This instance of ethnic cleansing was made possible because the main ally of Armenians - Russia - is unable to provide any assistance, but also because Azerbaijan now has a very good geopolitical situation as being key for non-Russian supply of energy to Europe, having good diplomatic ties to Turkey as their protector as well as being on the upswing economically. There are some performative declarations from the west, but nothing will be done on practical level.

So I guess my "steelman" is that this is the reality of human nature, this is how the world worked and will work in the future. If there is anything that needs any "steelamaning", it is this first principles morality and dream of multicultural peace loving society where the whole world is full of Moriori peoples singing kumbaya together. The reality is much more ugly and the fact is that ethnic cleansing was used and will be used in the future as solution of various conflicts. In a sense I think that the Hamas attack was a success to large extent, it shows that the support is shifting away from Israel. Europe is still dependent on energy from Arab countries, Germans recently signed 15 years long contract for LNG from Qatar, and guess who is one of the largest supporter of Hamas globally. Who knows, maybe in due time we will have the same situation as with Nagorno-Karabakh, which was also a long war until it wasn't.

nobody gives a shit about Moriori

I've seen the Moriori mentioned dozens of times by right-wing New Zealanders going "Guess those Māori aren't so great after all, huh?", so I'd guess one would encounter such comments inside New Zealand way more.

Sure and I am using them as one of the examples now in this discussion, so we do give a shit in this sense. But it will not help Moriori people, so it is just discussion over spilled milk. Bygones are bygones, current ancestors of Māori people can just express some sympathy and move on fighting for the living nation instead of ruminating over the dead one.

When your people have been oppressed by the enemy for 55 years they start to treat the yoke as normal, they forget what it means to be free. After all, it's not really an oppression when instead of soldiers bulldozing your farmhouse at night you get bureaucrats informing you your farmhouse violates the new safety zone requirements and has to be relocated. To remind them that they are people and not cattle you have to provoke the enemy into renewed brutality, and the only way to do it is by brutalizing the enemy.

When the plantation owner tells you, "I think we had an agreement about production quotas. It's the same on all plantations, so you can't say I am treating you unfairly. You have underdelivered, so I am forced to punish you, no hard feelings, right?" you don't organize a sit-in to renegotiate the number of lashes or the number of bales of cotton. You kill the enforcers and torch the mansion. Why would you also mutilate the sons, violate the wife and the daughters of the plantation owner in front of him before killing them? Do you really expect every other slaveowner to become so horrified by this that they release their slaves? No, they will become horrified by the atrocities and double down on the oppression, but that's your goal. The slaves have become too complacent. The indiscriminate punishments will remind them that the agreement they had with the owners was not an agreement at all.

That reasoning would still apply for the KKK trying to attack someone in order to create anti-KKK backlash.

You're really grasping for straws here.

Isn't it significantly different because the KKK is not an ethnic group? It's not even a village. There are no "civilian" KKK populations to blend in with, to get support from, to be hidden by.

Your country is perpetually blockaded by a neighboring country's government that doesn't want you to import anything without them first inspecting it. They cannot be persuaded by words alone to stop doing this. Therefore, you must attack them so hard that they beg for mercy.

(I'm sure there are other things Israel does to Gaza, but my understanding is that aside from imports, they do actually have sovereignty.)

Can you steelman the KKK now?

They are a mostly peaceful group of activists who oppose the presence of black people in their community. They mostly hold marches which are mostly non-violent. They hide their faces for safety reasons.

Sometimes they burn crosses, sure, but you're the weird one for taking that as some kind of threat. After all, they're mostly peaceful. Only a small minority of Klan members are violent, and the ones who aren't violent.. well, they're not legally required to turn the ones who are violent in to the authorities, are they? You can't even prove they know anything about it! They could all be autonomous agents. The burden of proof is on you to prove there's coordination.

I wasn't actually asking you to steelman the KKK. I was pointing out that steelmanning is a bad thing to do here because that kind of steelmanning ignores the actual facts. It just isn't possible to honestly steelman Hamas or the KKK, any more than I could honestly steelman homeopathy or creationism.


I mean, did I ignore the facts of the situation re: Hamas?

They cannot be persuaded by words alone to stop doing this.

That's one of those things that's literally correct but misleading. They couldn't be persuaded by words, but they could be persuaded by Hamas stopping the rockets and terrorism, on top of some words.

Wasn't there a lengthy period without Hamas-organized terror attacks before this one?

No, they still kept shooting rockets to kill Israelis.

I've often asked people not to steelman attacks.

I never expected I'd have to say it about literal physical attacks.

And why not?

This is precisely where rationality as an ethic fails.

There are lots of very good reasons to steal from, kill, maim, even genocide your fellow man. What stands in between us and horror cannot ever solely be reason.

Only if you believe in Jihad and martyrdom. They’re not exactly rational.

Revenge at any cost needs no rationale, but supposing the leaders do have one:

There is no hope for the Palestinian cause so long as America is the hegemon. Therefore the only course of action is to maintain the cause alive until it falls. Therefore one must keep meeting the Israelis blow for blow and even provoke them to make sure they create enough despair in response that the movement stays alive until victory is possible.

People make too much hay of the colonial qualifier, but there is a significant parallel between the native american lost cause and this one. And it translates into similar tactics. For both sides.

People make too much hay of the colonial qualifier, but there is a significant parallel between the native american lost cause and this one. And it translates into similar tactics. For both sides.


As far as I'm aware Native resistance took the form typical of tribal warfare. It wasn't anything special except for the fact that they eventually found themselves completely outmatched in a way they hadn't when fighting comparable Indian tribes.

There's lots of parallels, from confinement to reservations, to raids on civilians and mutilation of their corpses, to more moderate forces being slowly eliminated by both sides, to the inherent tactics of guerilla and small independent parties leading coordinated raids using low tech means of insertion and communication. Even the ideological component and propaganda is somewhat similar.

If the Apache wars happened in a modern urban setting, they would look a lot like this.

There's lots of parallels, from confinement to reservations, to raids on civilians and mutilation of their corpses, to more moderate forces being slowly eliminated by both sides, to the inherent tactics of guerilla and small independent parties leading coordinated raids using low tech means of insertion and communication. Even the ideological component and propaganda is somewhat similar.

The raids on civilians, mutilation of corpses, guerilla tactics and small independent parties leading coordinated raids are just regular plains Indian tactics that date back to tactics used by the original steppe people over 5000 years ago. These aren't unique to their conflicts with settled peoples. They used these same tactics against each other. The only thing unique is that the settled people had the power to force them onto reservations instead of just scattering them or forcing them into a tributary relationship, like the Chinese, Persians and Romans regularly did in Eurasia.

Of course none of this is new or specific to that particular. This is just irregular warfare against a threat with an immense technology and ressource advantage.

Come to think of it, do we have examples of conflicts of that nature where the weaker belligerent actually won?

Come to think of it, do we have examples of conflicts of that nature where the weaker belligerent actually won?

Afghanistan, Vietnam... can't say for sure, but my impression is that most successful secessions resulted from a more advantaged power going "eh, it's not worth it", rather than the seceding one being able to withstand the full force of the who they're separating from.

Just to add to this — a recognition of Israel by Saudi Arabia would be an incredibly significant step towards ending the Arab-Israeli conflict, and with it the hope of an independent Palestine. Consequently, a bloody offensive that keeps the flames of war alive and the Arab street enraged and derails the hope of a detente between Israel and KSA might arguably be judged worth it.

According to this article, Hamas has already partially succeeded in this endeavor.

After a bloody ground offensive with Palestinian deads in the tens of thousands, any Arab-Israel rapprochement will be probably off the table for at least a decade. And if Israel shows restraint, Hamas can blast that as a victory as well.

Mission accomplished for Hamas, I guess.

This has of course to be considered in the light of the competing Saudi and Iranian interests.

Rapprochement was happening after all with the Abraham accords before these events.

Surely that’s just the general Palestinian case + the case for terrorist tactics, both of which have been made elsewhere many times?

That's the general outline, but I'd like more specific arguments that pertain to the current situation, without either sanewashing or "look at these evil savages who burn babies alive for fun."* (*not an actual quote)

What do you guys think are the chances this becomes WW3? ngl I'm starting to get a little worried

None of the major non-US powers required for WW3 (Russia, India, China) have great stakes in any of this. If Russia was losing in Ukraine, I'd be more worried.

The only power that cares is the US but none of its potential adversaries in the region (Lebanon, Iran) have nukes nor are any of remaining nuclear powers willing to use theirs to defend them. So a nothingburger. Sleep tight.

I think we can cross out Russia as able to do world war now. I guess using nukes maybe. But conventionally they are essentially Italy in WW2 at best now. A very minor front participant in conventional war.

The only path to WW is with Chinas involvement.

Either Ukraine or Something involving China (be it Taiwan, or one of the ongoing territorial disputes with India, Japan, Vietnam, Et Al) both strike me as far more likely to "go global" than anything in the Middle East.

Worried now? The Ukraine situation has been in danger of escalating into WW3 for almost 2 years.

This is kind of trivial in comparison.

The Ukraine situation contained genuine possibilities of escalation to an European war (which still wouldn't necessarily be WW3) for about a month after it started. After that, most of the WW3 talk (in the West, at least) has not been particularly good-faith from either side - either pro-Ukrainian "This is already a WW3, the West doesn't realize it, why isn't it intervening now?" spiel or Western pro-Russian "Oh no, the nukes might start flying at any moment! The West must avoid this by dropping all support to Ukraine now!" spiel.

Negligible, unless retroactively incorporated into the story of WW3 just because it occurred around the same time.

There aren't any great powers on the side of Hamas, only Iran, and only partially. There are chances it could escalate to a war with Iran, but that would not be a world war.

The reality is: the next world war occurs either because China attacks Taiwan, or Russia invades a NATO country. The latter is... extremely unlikely.

The latter is... extremely unlikely.

Prior to February 2022 i may have agreed but I nolonger share your optomism in this regard. The Balkans are right there.

The scenario where I can maybe see Putin being emboldened to do something like that is

  • Russia keeps gearing up more and more into a total war footing as the war drags on.
  • Ukraine's manpower gets ground down and western support doesn't keep pace with Russian escalation
  • Eventually the lines get broken and Russia storms through, capturing the western parts of Ukraine relatively quickly
  • High on victory and with a big war machine already running, Putin decides he can totally take the Baltics before America can really do anything about it and goes for it.

Likely scenario? No. But not totally implausible.

Likely scenario? No. But not totally implausible.

Agreed, likewise the inverse. Ukraine gains a decisive win on the southern front and decides that they're going to try and retake the Crimea. Russia nukes Kherson, Odessa, Melitopol, and Chaban to stave off a total collapse, and shit hits the fan.

Again, Likely scenario? No. But not totally implausible.



Not the one in the north, the one sitting on the narrow strip connecting Crimea to the mainland.

There are two narrow strips that do that, one has Armyansk (and Perekop), the other has Chongar/Chonhar.

Very low. A world war necessarily involves at least 2 of the following: NATO, Russia, China.

I can see a path where Iran does something stupid and is promptly destroyed by the United States. But that would be where it ends. Russia already has its hands full and China doesn't seem interested in this kind of foreign adventure.

The situation in Ukraine was/is more dangerous.

I think the concern is that Iran gets involved, the US responds, but is a paper tiger of sorts causing China to take Taiwan.

I don't think the US can "promptly" destroy Iran without nukes. And nukes make a world war very likely.

The most likely reason for Iran not becoming directly involved is geography. They can't invade without traversing the entire peninsula, and it's not like Syria and Jordan are so friendly with them they'd allow it or participate. They could presumably launch missiles, but conventional missiles don't decide a war, and they obviously invite direct retaliation.

And nukes make a world war very likely.

Why? The nuke mythology --- nuclear winter this, radiation that, Fallout, "glassing", end of civilization, etc. --- creates a level of fear and hesitation in excess of what the effects of the weapons warrant. (I recall reading something about the nuclear winter concept being essentially made up for leftist political reasons in the 1980s.) If someone were to use a nuke in anger, this mythology would collapse. We'd come to understand that a nuclear warhead is merely a bomb that makes a bigger boom than other bombs and view 70 years of anti-nuke agitation as ignorant hysteria. With the "nuclear taboo" aside, why would a nuclear strike (especially a counter-force tactical nuke) cause a world war when a destructive conventional strike wouldn't?

The nuclear taboo is NOT aside. And if a nuke in the Middle East swept the taboo aside, Russia is freed to use its nuclear arsenal in Ukraine and then perhaps elsewhere... which again, brings you a lot closer to WWIII.

They wouldn't be able to "destroy" Iran without nukes, but conventional attacks would probably be enough to destroy whatever military capability they have to project power beyond their own borders, and the political situation within their own borders is dicey enough that it's a wild card; i.e. a rally around the flag effect could help the government, or getting entangled in a foreign war to help terrorists could be another addition to the list of grievances for last year's protestors.

From the nuclear nations which one will be willing to risk it's own existence as retaliation for Iran? Pakistan or North Korea probably? Pakistan could be bribed with Iran territory. China could be bribed with Iran's oil. Israel will be happy. Russia will gladly shrug for lesser sanctions and smaller aid in Ukraine. UK and France - meh. India - doubt it.

North Korea - who knows, but probably extremely low. The regime there is preoccupied with its own survival. Not with geopolitics at large. They seem to be happy to turn into an island.

Anyway - I think this is time to reconsider the battleship as a ship - just a delivery vehicle for dumb artillery and lots of it. That is protected by the carrier group.

Russia would be most likely, especially if lesser sanctions and smaller aid in Ukraine weren't forthcoming. Which I expect would be the case for a US arrogant enough to nuke Iran. Russia might take that as license to nuke Kyiv, for instance. But it's not going to happen; unless Iran goes nuclear themselves (which would mean they've successfully concealed completion of a nuclear weapons program), the US isn't going to nuke them. Nor Israel, unless a general Middle East war against them has already started with their backing, which also seems unlikely.

As for battleships, you can't win a war promptly with conventional artillery either. Eventually you'll have to invade. If you just keep shelling, we'll find out if Iran can figure a way to sink a carrier group.

If you just keep shelling, we'll find out if Iran can figure a way to sink a carrier group.

And if I remember correctly, wargame scenarios from the early 2000's (when the Navy was arguably in better shape) showed this exact scenario going very very badly for the US. So much so that they had to redo the wargame from scratch with heavy restrictions of the Red Team general to save face.

That's what it was, the "Millennium Challenge." On further review, the range limitations in the exercise were definitely a factor, but it's still not inspiring.

Millennium Challenge. See also the top answer from the defense consultant in this. Basically, Red "won" by using loopholes in the rules that failed to model reality.

(However, be careful in reading these. Another source claims that the motorcycle messengers thing didn't happen and I have no way to research whether it's true.)

All pathways to WW3 seem to require Iran to get involved. So far, Iran has very much not got directly involved and there were some pretty high level controlled leaks from the Iranians that they were surprised by the scale of Hamas’ attack, even if the IRGC (as reported by WSJ) may have approved some form of aggression. Iran’s relations with Hamas are more frayed than they are with Hezbollah or the Houthis; Hamas is Sunni and they were initially on opposite sides of the Syrian Civil War.

Iran lacks the ability to easily project force to Israel. While troops could march (and they’d have to go overland) through Iraq and Syria to get to Israel they would be vulnerable doing so, supply lines would be stretched, and it would annoy the Iraqi Shia militias currently making huge oil profits from Iraq’s relative state of calm. Iran has medium range missiles capable of hitting Israel, but how many they have is unknown. Israel’s options for physical retaliation would be slim, but in many ways that reduces the risk that Iran acts overly aggressive out of fear.

Iran is in a good place in the region now, and that’s especially true as long as Iraq remains peaceful and largely ruled by Shia groups allied with Iran, and as long as Assad is in power in Syria. Shuffling the deck of cards isn’t in their interest. If Hezbollah decides enough is enough and goes in the Iranians will have to make a difficult decision, but even there i think direct engagement is very, very far from guaranteed. If Hezbollah is destroyed or severely damaged, the Iranian position remains quite strong.

Iran has medium range missiles capable of hitting Israel, but how many they have is unknown. Israel’s options for physical retaliation would be slim, but in many ways that reduces the risk that Iran acts overly aggressive out of fear.

Supposing that Iran did launch missals, would Israel be able to distinguish between conventional missals and WMDs (be they chemical and nuclear)?

And given that they wouldn't know the content of the missals launched by Iran, Israel would have to assume that they might be WMDs. By this I mean to say that a rockets from Iran to Israel might have the same problem as rockets launched from Russia to the USA, it would risk nuclear escalation given that you cannot determine the content of the missals, and given that there is a possibility that the missals are in fact a nuclear first strike.

Given the risk of escalation it it would seem unlikely that Iran proper directly attacks Israel.

You are assuming that the only way the war might propagate to Iran is if Iran decides to. But Israel could very well decide that for them. Iran has been weakened by recent anti regime protests and Israel's government needs to prove they do something about the security of their citizen without hurting Hamas too much because Hamas has hostages. It's not the most plausible issue, but game-theoretically hurting Iran is somewhat sound, just like nuking Belarus as a retaliation against Russia (see The Bomb by Fred Kaplan)

I imagine the US told Israel and Iran “we are putting two carrier groups close to Israel. Israel will not attack Iran. If Iran does anything the carrier groups will attack Iran.”

Really decreases the odds either party “starts” something.

It’s unclear Israel has the means to directly attack Iran other than with nukes.

Can you explain? Why couldn't a conventionally armed F-16, F-35, or missile without a nuclear warhead reach Iran?

Too far away. I looked it up for a previous comment on this thread.

Basically the published combat range of the aircraft in their inventory just barely reaches the closest border of Iran over the most direct possible route. Any worthwhile targets are even further. And those routes go over Jordan and Iraq, both of which are not particularly friendly to Israel. Any attempts to avoid them or fly evasive routes to be less visible to their air defense just makes the range problem even worse. The Israeli air force does have some tanker aircraft in inventory, but one or more midair refuelings in hostile airspace sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Missiles may be possible, but missiles without nukes just aren't very destructive and may not be worth the bother. A conventionally-armed missile is a strange enough thing to do that it's probably reasonable for any country to assume any medium range ballistic missile is nuclear and respond accordingly.

Israel might start with Hezbollah. It's a more realistic target than Iran, and it would be more explanable to the population (we can't get rid of the Hamas because hostages but we will get rid of hezbollah). I don't really believe it will happen, it's just something possible

Both countries have conventional missiles that can reach the other.

Unclear in what quantities. At least for Israel analysts seem to think the number of medium range non-nuclear missiles capable of hitting Tehran is very modest.

What if they were launched from a bomber?

Very low.

If Israel drags both Sunni and Shia powers into the war, things will be unfortunate, but there will not be a united front for very long. I would expect that regional tensions between Iran and KSA will actually decrease temporarily, then the united front will fracture over time as the desires of the governments diverge from that of their populace and trust disintegrates.

I think we're less likely to see this war lead to the destruction of Israel, or WWIII, than we are to see it lead to further disintegration of MENA governments when they refuse to invade Israel as their populace demands.

The most likely path to this resulting in WW3 is several other actors deciding that now is the time for military adventurism because of America's finite response capacity.

When I created this megathread, here is what I posted to the moderator Discord:

A couple users asked for an Israel-Gaza megathread, it's maybe a bit late for that but maybe not so I went ahead and gave them one. I optimistically did not name it "World War III Opens on a Second Front."

My understanding of military decisions is exclusively historical and political, so I can't speak to the nuts and bolts of this, but every conflict like the ones in Ukraine and Israel opens the door a little wider for attacks of opportunity elsewhere. I am skeptical that China will ever invade Taiwan--the economic benefits of just rattling sabers at them for all of eternity seem far better than the ideological benefits of burning the island to cinders. I sometimes wonder if Taiwan is allowed to be what it is because someone in China read Brave New World and decided that an island of malcontent exiles was a pretty good idea, actually.

But their ability to get away with an invasion of Taiwan is certainly increased by contemporaneous conflict elsewhere.

Other contenders for the "next front in World War III" presumably include Iran and North Korea, ye olde Axis of Evil, but there are plenty of other places that could qualify. The flood of migrants arriving in Europe and the United States every day may be driven primarily by economics, but one of the worst things for any economy is armed conflict, and it is at some level armed conflict that almost all such migrants are ultimately fleeing. How much of the world needs be at war, to call it a World War?

Vox Day had some discussion on his site around the possibility of this spilling out into WW3. Basically it was through considering Ukraine/Russia, Iran/Israel and China/Taiwan as separate fronts. China and Russia both gain from flashpoints such as what is happening in Israel, as it draws focus and resources away from their spheres.

A world war is when the war is global. Even 10 local conflicts don't make a world war until there are two sides and japan allies with germany even though they are not fighting on the same continent. And by that, I mean that they declare war and peace together, not that they are allies in that they help each other somehow.

How much of the world needs be at war, to call it a World War?

When white and honorary white start to die in sufficient quantities. You also missed the Nagorno Karabakh in "list of things that hit the fan recently" that I think is also result of embolden adversaries and weakened russia.

I always thought of the current axis of evil as laughable. All the countries there are pathetic and china wants not a part of it.

The Armenia thing is interesting. It’s one thing ethnically cleansing 30,000 Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, quite another occupying a hostile nationalist population a third the size of your own with a different religion and 2000 year history.


Ground invasion -> Hezbollah -> USA -> Iran -> more shit idk until it's Armageddon

I admit not being exactly rational here (part of what I meant by "worried") that's why I'm asking this space

Sure, a wider Middle-Eastern war is possible, but quite a bit of a road to a genuine world war even from there.

A wider middle eastern war means Israel will fall unless christian troops enter the fray. Turkey is very worrying wild card and they will have zero resistance if they invade bulgaria and greece. Which have nothing to stop them with. And Ergodan has some ottoman restoration dreams. They may not even have to revoke the NATO membership to make things even more confusing. And they have couple of million of refugees that they can draft.

So right now western powers have choice - protect what is left of Bulgaria - mostly Sofia, northern parts above the Balkan mountains. Protect serbia or protect Vienna. Throw the mess in Ukraine. Assume that suddenly all those muslims we already accepted suddenly decide to cause trouble - no matter if provoked or not. So you will soon have a lot of crises. And you are just one or two in asia to have world war. Thank got that latin america is peaceful at least (in not a keg of powder sense)

Assad is still cleaning up a civil war and attempting reconstruction. Egypt under Sisi certainly isn’t going to get involved in defense of Hamas / the Muslim Brotherhood. Jordan isn’t either after their own history with the Palestinians.

So a “whole middle eastern war” against Israel involves who - maybe Hezbollah, Hamas and some Iranian support (probably not boots on the ground, though)? Maybe Iraqi Shia militias, although they don’t want a war now they’re in power there? the Gulf Arabs don’t want a victorious Iran turning its attention toward the holy cities and the gulf.

It’s all possible, of course, but is it likely? I don’t know.

Is hezbollah likely to get involved? I would think that the time to do so for them had already happened.

Jordan isn’t either after their own history with the Palestinians.

Indeed; the West Bank Palestinians are more or less a poison pill preventing Jordan from invading, even if Jordan would otherwise want to. Same on for Gaza Palestinians and Egypt.

How is turkey going to succeed against greece and bulgaria where russia failed against ukraine, when they will get much more support, and presumably want to become turks even less than ukrainians want to become russians? Turkey’s military budget is 11 B (source) and greece 8 B, bulgaria 1B (This is a clue that bulgaria, contrary to greece, doesn’t think turkey is a threat to it). Given the budget ratio was 10-to-1 against ukraine, I will put turkey’s chances of conquering bulgaria and greece at approximately 0.

A wider middle eastern war means Israel will fall unless christian troops enter the fray.

Why would it mean that though? There have already been at least 3 wars (48, 67, 73) involving full-scale armies from multiple Arab nations attacking Israel, and they haven't fallen yet.

On paper, the Arab nations would appear to have ample forces to do the job. But historically, they've had trouble actually coordinating and committing to attacks. I see no reason to presume that that has changed. Syria and Egypt seem to have enough internal problems these days that it's hard to see them pulling off a large-scale offensive action.

Please describe other types of wide middle eastern war? Don't forget that the previous wars were waged against secular governments. I don't know the current state of pan arabism but I think that it is ripe for one to try and get the reigns.

I don't understand? You asserted that "A wider middle eastern war means Israel will fall unless christian troops enter the fray". Exactly what war are you picturing that would plausibly lead to Israel falling without direct intervention? I mentioned several actual wars that happened. Multiple times, the nations surrounding Israel united to attack them, and each time, Israel did not fall. A number of other wars have also happened in the Middle East, none of which involved Israel at all or led to them falling.

I actually can't think of any war in the modern era in which any of the Arab nations displayed impressive offensive capability, as in assembling a large force and sending it outside their borders to capture foreign territory held by determined adversaries. Usually they only attack each other, and mostly bog down pretty quickly unless the region they're attacking basically gives up to them. They tend to smash their faces into a brick wall every time they try to attack territory held by Westernized forces.

Whether you or I think that the area is "ripe" for a united pan-Arab movement now, the fact is that it's been tried a bunch of times over the last century and failed every time. I don't see any reason to expect anything to be different now.

Turkey isn’t going to war with Greece any time soon. The country’s membership of NATO is central to all of its defense plans and pretty important to its national identity. Entirely possible it gets drawn into the next round of Armenia-Azerbaijan though.

Probably true 15 years ago. Erdogan has played with both turkish nationalism and islamism. I wouldn't be so optimistic. The west didn't accept Turkey as equal, I am not sure at least in the mind of the elite they want to be accepted any more.

Agree, but the likelihood is now higher than it was previously. If a set of global conflicts emerge with even loosely defined lines, I would expect it to be a product in no small part of opportunism in the face of the United States being spread too thin to be a reliable partner in stopping something like an attack on Taiwan. I don't really know how to put a meaningful percentage guess on the likelihood, but the combination of resources and materiel drained into Ukraine and naval assets being deployed to assist Israel commits the American military to a greater extent than is typical.

It seems like everyone always leaves out the possibility that China just... takes Taiwan. Like if the US does get spread pretty thin and China takes the opportunity, that doesn't automatically mean WWIII happens. Frankly, the thinner the US gets spread, the lower the odds of Taiwan being sufficient to trigger the war.

If the US is totally dominant, then China will wait and so no war occurs. If the US is severely weakened, then China will simply take Taiwan with minimal US intervention, and no world war occurs. It's only in some weird middle ground, where China perceives the US as spread too thin but the US still commits to defending Taiwan, that there's any risk of something major.

Of course, I've never been the worrying sort, and I'm not as opposed to war as the average person, so maybe I'm just underestimating the odds.

We've already seen the tendency of autocratic regimes to overestimate their own military capabilities in the current Ukraine-Russia war. And islands are notoriously easy to defend/hard to attack. If China just marches in and takes over, you're right. If China miscalculates, the first landing fails and the war turns into a longer slog/siege, the western public will most likely want to support Taiwan, similar to how it went with the Ukraine. Which may not guarantee WW3, but it adds another roll of the dice, and destabilizes the world further.

to support Taiwan, similar to how it went with the Ukraine

I agree with your overall point entirely, but this gets me thinking: would the western public have supported Ukraine if the US military/intelligence community didn't make sure that happened?

Most people's position on the war doesn't seem to be rooted in serious principles, and I have no doubt that if the regime pulled a Eurasia/Eastasia flip tomorrow, most of the public would follow.

We've been having an "honest" conversation about Zionism in the West for a long time

I don't think so. Keith's perspective is missing and most of the anti-Zionism in the West is typically very leftist. I think folks like Keith Woods bring the perspective that Zionism is responsible for instability and unrest in the Middle-East and thus brings floods of refugees to Europe. Jewish Zionists living in the West then shame White people to take them into our countries - even as they support ethno-nationalism for themselves. So nationalism when in Israel but liberalism in the diaspora. So far, I agree with Keith's analysis.

Where I differ with Kieth is that I think this is actually the common norm among most ethnic minorities. He makes it sound like Jews are outliers. I've often talked about Turks living in Germany, NL, France etc but there are many other examples.The main difference is not behavior per se but power. The Jewish diaspora is infinitely more powerful and influential than whatever little crumbs that Turks, Kurds, Armenians or any other Middle-Eastern group get off the table, despite often being far more numerous than Jews - at least in Europe.

In other words, it's White people who are abnormally non-tribal rather than Jews being unusually tribal. Jewish tribalism makes much more political and social impact because of relative power differentials favouring Jews compared to other ethnic minorities who are much less influential. But that doesn't mean those other minorities' fundamental patterns of behaviour are any different.

I don't think so. Keith's perspective is missing and most of the anti-Zionism in the West is typically very leftist.

Anti-Zionism is (in the US, at least), profoundly anti-establishment. The anti-establishment right didn't have a megaphone until Trump walked down the escalator in 2016, and this is the first time since then that Israel-Palestine has been the current thing. But "why can Israel oppose immigration but the US can't" and "why can Israel play to win with the Palestinians when the US has its hands tied in Iraq" where both fairly common memes on the anti-establishment right back in the noughties. (Practically every commentator on the Unz review plus Moldbug)

Unlike the anti-establishment left, the anti-establishment right isn't consistently anti-Zionist, because it includes rabid Islamophobes who support Israel on enemy-of-my-enemy grounds, and wackjob Christians who support Israel in order to immanentize the escheaton. But the natural position of the anti-establishment right is that Israel is just another country and the US should not spend money defending them for the same reasons as Ukraine.

The left may not be consistently anti-Israel, but even when not actually anti-Israel, it's anti-a lot of things Israel does, including border walls. So the answer is "pretty much nobody who opposes limits on immigration in the US supports it for Israel".