Blunderbus – n, from Dutch Donderbus or Thunder gun means a muzzle loading shotgun intended to cause maximum harm in crowded spaces; the modern meaning is to masturbate. In either case, the meaning may well apply to the Israeli bombing and possible ground attacks on Gaza. Before the Israeli strike the count, yes-the death count(we are in the MidEast after all), the death count in the week leading up to the Israeli’s attack was:
Israeli’s killed by Gaza fired rockets=0
Palestinians killed by IDF-Israeli Defense Forces and Air attacks=4 and 5 wounded
As of Monday December 29th, 2008 7:00PM EST the death count was:
Israeli killed by Gaza fired rockets=4 and 20 wounded
Palestinians killed by IDF Air Force and other attacks=350 and 1500.
In dry prose, the NYTimes reports that “the third day of the offensive has killed more than 300 Palestinians in the deadliest violence in the territory in decades.”
Now who greenlighted this Blunderbus-like attack. According to the Israeli Haaretz newpaper Ehud Barak was planning this 6 months ago when the ceasefire with Hamas was being negotiated. There are disputes as to when the Israeli Cabinet approved it.November according to this report, late December according to Haaretz. But there is no dispute that approval was unanimous among the Israeli Cabinet from PM Ehud Olmert through Defense Minister Ehud Barak to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
What is the assessment of major World Press to date on the consequences of this attack:
BBC – cites US Bush Administration’s tacit approval of Israeli attacks
Guardian – totes up the carnage in Gaza: Israelis Killed by Gaza rockets over past 8 years=20, Palestinians killed by IDF=788 in the past 2 years
LeMonde – describes how Europe is working towards a ceasefire
NYTimes – how other Arab governments are taking the heat
WashingtonPost – has a blog discussion “What reasonable alternative did Israel have to deal with Hamas threat?”
US President-elect Barack Obama has been curiously quiet so far.
So the die is cast. Israel has decided to try to cripple if not outright route-out Hamas as the Palestinian authority in Gaza. Its another round of “regime change” in the Middle East, fittingly as the master regime changer, President George W. Bush is 23 days from leaving office.
It also raise the stakes in the Mid East Games of Chicken. Clearly Israel has raised the ante on what it is allowed to do in dealing with “terrorists”. The victim ratio or “eye for an eye” is now up to 35 Palestinians dead per Israeli killed. Israel may well do a ground based invasion and secure some portion of the 138 square miles(roughly 6 x 25 mile strip with a population of nearly 1.5 million). Also clearly if Israel does a ground invasion it will run into the Exit Strategy problem. Under the worst of conditions it may be like the US in Vietnam and Russia in Afghanistan forced to retreat when guerilla warfare takes its gnawing toll. And given the Israelis tiredness for war(call it the Corporal Gilad Shalit phenomena), even the best of circumstances (effective control of all of Gaza Strip with perhaps 5-25 Israeli soldiers deaths per month due to snipers and suicide attacks) – the Israelis will still have two major problems.
First, Hamas, for all its thuggishness won the Palestinian elections and a large measure of popular approval on the basis of its social programs and economic aid to families. Fatah, the previously ruling Palestinian party proved to be corrupt and heavy-handed in the Gaza Strip. Israel will have to replace this economic and living support because Gaza is on the brink of economic and living disaster. How do they do this ?
Second, what is their Exit Strategy? Will Israel be able to use the Gaza Strip as a bargaining chip for more Palestinian concessions of West Bank and East Jerusalem territory ? The illegal Israeli settlements on UN-mandated Palestinian land has reached and accumulated into hundreds of thousands of Israeli “settlers homes”. And what about the even tougher problem of the right of return of displaced Palestinians to their legitimate lands lost in the 1947 thru 1967 Arab Israeli wars? Having been Diaspora victims of the Holocaustian Second World War – the Israelis grab for “LebensRaum” in the West Bank settlements is a PR nightmare. It is a blunderbus – as it appears this high stakes, Cast Lead war is as well.
The third definition or meaning of Blunderbus: unintended consequences, often self-inflicted wounds.