Some simple game-theoretic questions about Hamas rockets

by on July 9, 2014 at 8:36 am in Current Affairs, Political Science | Permalink

Haaretz reports that some of the current rockets have a range of 150 km, which is longer than most of what has been fired in the past.  So here is my question: when do those rockets become sufficiently powerful and numerous that they can close down Tel Aviv Airport, which is of course the main route in and out of Israel, especially for well-off people.  If that can happen, is this not like a housing bubble game, where things can go very sour very quickly?  And in the meantime, will the Israel government attempt “lower the mean, increase the variance” strategies, if only to forestall what is to them an obviously unacceptable outcome, namely that Hamas can could close Tel Aviv airport at will?  Are we already at the point of seeing such mean-reducing strategies?  If not, how much worse will things be when we get there?

1 andrew' July 9, 2014 at 8:38 am

At that point maybe we defetishize air security.

2 Dan Weber July 9, 2014 at 9:04 am

While I can definitely hear the argument that the US worries too much about airline safety, it’s a bit different to just accept the fact that your enemy can, at will and on demand, shoot down any civilian aircraft.

3 Andrew' July 9, 2014 at 9:20 am

Part of airline safety fetishization is exaggeration. Is your description what is actually going on?

TC asked if vague threats to an airport would cause a discrete break in the continuity. It only happens if airports are fetishized. He indicates they are because elites like airports. But should they be fetishized? Air travel is the riskiest thing typical people do and it is odd we fetishize its safety.

4 Andrew' July 9, 2014 at 9:21 am

(yes, I know driving is more dangerous, but it is partly because we fetishize air safety)

5 fwiw July 9, 2014 at 12:19 pm

I think you may have a fetish fetish.

6 Andrew' July 9, 2014 at 1:42 pm

No. If you have a word that better captures it I’ll use it.

7 Rahul July 10, 2014 at 12:18 am

security theatre?

8 andrew' July 10, 2014 at 3:27 am

That describes the security itself but not the elite air travel privilege position.

Why do we make relatively safe flight less safe by overburdening it with security in the us? And why would a tiny risk of hitting tarmac suddenly shock Israel into action?

9 Dan Weber July 9, 2014 at 9:28 am

I didn’t see “vague” but I did see “it hasn’t happened yet.” Once the first rocket hits the airport I’d expect a big change.

10 andrew' July 9, 2014 at 11:35 am

Vague as in these aren’t guided missiles.

So planes are in no greater danger than the buses.

11 Mike July 9, 2014 at 10:59 pm

Takeoff and landing are the most dangerous portions of a flight. Starting and stopping are not the most dangerous portions of a bus ride. Busses can load and unload from a variety of locations. Aircraft can load and unload from a small number of well-known, highly visible locations. Thus, Aircraft are far more vulnerable at an airport than busses would be at a bus stop.

12 andrew' July 10, 2014 at 3:24 am

Okay. But by “buses” I meant anything other than planes.

13 Jake July 9, 2014 at 9:40 am

Yeah, this isn’t really at all similar to what we think of as air security in the US. Making people take off their shoes before boarding is dumb. Worrying about terrorist groups that have rockets close enough to attack your airport is less so.

Plus, the main issue is not that these rockets would do any more direct damage at the airport, it’s that they could shut down a vital piece of Israeli infrastructure. At the moment Israelis can pretty much act like they live in a normal first world country, give or take a few sub-machine gun wielding guards in all public places, but if the ability to travel in and out of the country easily was compromised, that would change real fast.

14 Slocum July 9, 2014 at 10:10 am

In the U.S. it’s *all* dumb. Airline security can’t possibly stop a terrorist from towing big bomb in a wheelie bag into the middle of a crowded security line — in fact, existing security procedures are what have created that massive vulnerability to attack. An incident like that would have far greater effect on airline travel than taking down a plane, and it’s about 1000 times simpler to carry out than trying shoot a missile at a jetliner in the U.S. Think about it — just how would you go about protecting against attacks on people queuing for security screening?

15 Finch July 9, 2014 at 10:19 am

While I agree that airport security has major problems, it’s not like nothing is done to prevent other kinds of attacks. For example, the US is quite a bit more careful in explosives regulation, has the whole NSA thing going on, sends SEAL teams into Afganistan, conducts drone strikes, interrogates prisoners, and has at least some immigration control. And that’s just recently. We invaded two countries not too long ago, at least partially because of this issue. Many people might not like these responses either, but there’s unquestionably an attempt to build a defense-in-depth going on. It’s not like it’s x-ray scanners and nothing else.

16 bluto July 9, 2014 at 11:04 am

It’s simple you have a second queue for security to get the security screening and if that doesn’t work, the screenings will continue until security improves.

17 Dan Weber July 9, 2014 at 11:19 am

There is a lot to mock about the TSA. But, despite how easy you say it is to do, so far no one has blown up the crowd waiting in security.

Maybe blowing up planes is passé — it’s possible that our enemies simply don’t care about blowing up our planes any more, and still wouldn’t even if airport security policies significantly lightened. It’s also perfectly cromulent to propose that the US overweights the cost of losing a plane to a bomb because of reasons. There would need to be some meat on those arguments, though.

18 andrew' July 9, 2014 at 11:38 am

Why would they target airport security?

They haven’t done it because they haven’t tried because why would they?

19 Boonton July 9, 2014 at 1:15 pm

1. There’s lots of places with crowds of people. If you want to kill a lot of people with a bomb why choose a TSA security line? Why not choose, say, a street fair in a small sized city or a mall?

2. Clearly terrorism is not about making important strategic strikes on the target. It’s about psychology, namely fear on the side of the target and boosting the ego of the attacker (I suspect the latter is more important). This implies airline security is not some silly ‘fetish’ but quite rational because blowing up planes is more appealing to terrorists than blowing up busses or blowing up lines of people waiting.

3. Closing down Israel’s main airport then looks less like terrorism and more like war.

20 Joshua Fox July 9, 2014 at 11:38 am

> sub-machine gun wielding guards in all public places

They don’t have submachine guns. The great majority of guards at places like malls have a pistol. In high-security places like the airport a small minority may have a short automatic, but that is the exception.

21 Joshua July 9, 2014 at 8:43 am

Interesting question.

But let’s maybe for now focus on the annihilation of Gaza and the impending killing of children and other civilians.

22 Dan Weber July 9, 2014 at 9:05 am

Yeah, it’s only Tyler’s blog, why should he get to decide what gets discussed? I think there are only 5 or 6 blogs in the world, so it’s Very Important that they all follow Approved Topics.

23 Jeff July 9, 2014 at 9:47 am

Who’s bringing the marshmallows?

I’m awful, I know.

24 Tarrou July 9, 2014 at 10:05 am

Yes, this is only about the fiftieth major ground incursion into Gaza in the 21st century, it’s awful how the Israelis have killed every last person in Gaza. Lord only knows how those rockets keep getting fired over the border. A few hundred thousand more “annihilations” like that and the birthrate in Gaza might only be double replacement!

25 Urso July 9, 2014 at 10:22 am

Love the screen name/comment dichotomy

26 louis July 9, 2014 at 2:42 pm


27 Robert July 9, 2014 at 11:47 am

You are an evil person, Joshua. The so called “Palestinians” need to stop firing missiles, and then the Israelis will stop defending themselves for it. Why don’t you go to the Huffington Post where you can chit-chat with like-minded terrorist sympathizers?

28 dead serious July 9, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Hurry back to AIPAC, land-grabber.

29 Dan Weber July 9, 2014 at 12:50 pm

And there we go. Less than 4 hours. Who wins the pool?

30 dead serious July 9, 2014 at 2:49 pm

You think being called a shill for AIPAC is worse than being called a terrorist sympathizer?

Go fuck yourself, douche.

31 Dan Weber July 9, 2014 at 7:10 pm

U mad, bro?

32 JJ July 9, 2014 at 12:28 pm

It absolutely boggles the mind that people can read this blog and still respond to real world questions like this. I just don’t understand how it’s possible, is all.

33 Easily Amused July 9, 2014 at 1:15 pm

You mean like Chechnya? I ask myself, “WWPD”, as in “What would Putin do?”

34 John Cunningham July 9, 2014 at 7:49 pm

I think s’mores and popcorn would be in order. I favor peace, and there is nothing more peaceful than a dead Mooselimb.

35 Jack July 9, 2014 at 8:54 pm

That will get the Hasbara all riled up. As you know the proper response to an unsolved triple murder is to start bombing. Can’t wait until we try that against the gangs in Chicago or LA. I’m sure all the residents will put a stop to gang activity overnight.

36 anon July 9, 2014 at 8:43 am

This assumes Israel’s rocket defense system, Iron Dome, doesn’t keep up with the rockets.

37 The Other Jim July 9, 2014 at 8:48 am

Oh, to be Jewish.

Then, when your neighbors fire rockets into your country every single day for decades, no one will care unless those rockets can “reach the airport.” At which point there will be comparisons to a “housing bubble.”

I think we’re all with Tyler here. We’re bored of hearing about rockets landing in Israeli schoolyards in Sderot. When will things get real?

38 The Anti-Gnostic July 9, 2014 at 9:05 am

Oh to be Jewish indeed. You can get an ethnic nation-state made just for you, even though your state was dissolved almost two thousand years ago. You can even get your government to defend your nation’s ethnic and territorial integrity and nobody will scream that you’re just some anti-immigrant bigot who’s obviously stockpiling the Zyklon-B. You can migrate to Palestine, form private militias, study the Torah and nobody, not even Barack Hussein Obama, will accuse you of clinging to guns and religion.

I applaud the Jewish people. I think we can learn a lot from them.

39 Rob July 9, 2014 at 9:34 am

“was dissolved” is an incredibly, over-the-top passive-aggressive statement that tells us all we need to know about the likes of you.

40 The Anti-Gnostic July 9, 2014 at 9:39 am

Take it up with the Roman Empire, pal. That got dissolved too.

41 Z July 9, 2014 at 10:12 am

Unintentional humor is always the best. Rob is using a passive-aggressive rhetorical gag to castigate someone on the grounds they are employing passive-aggressive language to some nefarious purposes.

Al Gore’s Contrivance is a beautiful thing.

42 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 10:11 am

You can get an ethnic nation-state made just for you,

No You Cannot. The Jews built their own agricultural communes, their own housing, their own industrial plant, their own commercial sector, and their own self-governing authority. The role of the Ottoman Sultan and of Britain was purely permissive (and not, after 1939, at all friendly).

43 Uninformed Observer July 9, 2014 at 11:42 am

There you go with your “history,” referring to “events” that happened before 1967.

44 Tom July 9, 2014 at 11:54 am

Hear hear. Correct the anti-Semitic rant for its hugely wrong account of modern history, not for its use of passive voice in its accurate account of ancient history.

That said, there was something Churchill said about being magnanimous in victory. that if the Israelis had understood, perhaps they could have made peace and secured Israel’s future.

I know I’ll get attacked for not putting all the blame on the Palestinians, and surely [plenty of them deserve plenty, but come on guys, you know it takes two to tango, and you should know by now that collective punishment is wrong and comes back to bite you.

More to the point I just don’t see any way at all Israel can last another fifty years. Just a personal opinion, but I say get over that silly holy land stuff and come on over stateside before it’s too late.

45 Tom July 9, 2014 at 12:08 pm

If you want a relevant fact from ancient history, remember that Israel and Judah began to lose their independence in the second half of the 10th century BC with Shishak/Shoshenq’s invasion. After Egypt came Babylon, then Persia, then Alexander and his generals, then Rome. It has never been an easy part of the world to maintain a small, independent state. Tiny Israel has done an amazing job of achieving military superiority over a vast region, and that was not a gift. But that has created a situation where the next great Middle East power, whoever that will be, must take it out.

46 The Anti-Gnostic July 9, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Why would they come stateside? In 50 years, the Sunni-Shia conflict will be playing out here.

Unlike the US, Israel doesn’t indulge in suicidal immigration policies and uses its military to patrol its own borders, not the borders of Europe, the Arab peninsula, Korea and Afghanistan.

47 Cliff July 9, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Why the heck can’t it last another 50 years? What is the threat to Israel? Missile defense is only going to get better, suicide bombings have been eliminated. Going to the U.S. is a sure way to get assimilated.

48 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 1:44 pm

More to the point I just don’t see any way at all Israel can last another fifty years. Just a personal opinion, but I say get over that silly holy land stuff and come on over stateside before it’s too late.

Manifested Arab military prowess contra Israel has had less than impressive results since 1947. The Arab and local Muslim states which have managed since 1960 to improve their standard of living vis a vis Israel are limited to Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, and some countries which have had natural resource bonanzas (all but two of whom ceased to gain on Israel around about 1980). There’s been a 60% drop in fertility rates in the Near East and North Africa since 1960 which has not (over the latter half of that period) been replicated in Israel, putting Israel’s fertility rates above the regional mean, so it’s fairly doubtful that their neighbors will outbreed them over the next fifty years.

Still, those of you hoping for Israel’s destruction in the coming decades can still place wagers on an Iranian nuclear weapon.

49 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm

That said, there was something Churchill said about being magnanimous in victory. that if the Israelis had understood, perhaps they could have made peace and secured Israel’s future.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the Oslo process managed to produce a treaty with Jordan but was otherwise a disaster and the Camp David process managed to produce a treaty with Egypt (just Egypt) that most of the public there would happily abrogate. Israel’s attempt to devolve power to elected Arab municipal governments in 1972 was a debacle, leading to over 90% of Arab municipalities controlled by revanchists. Elections in the West Bank and Gaza most recently held to north of 40% of the vote to a collection of double-dealing racketeers who operate under the name “Al Fatah”, north of 40% to Hamas, who make their views of Israel quite transparent, about 7% to a collection of Marxisant and fascistoid parties who are no more inclined to be co-operative than is Hamas, and about 5% to parties which whom you could cut a deal. Public opinion surveys of the West Bank and Gaza reveal that north of a third of the population fancy that a ‘solution’ has to conclude with the dissolution of the State of Israel and that another 30% fancy regard one item as non-negotiable: a franchise for a fuzzily defined set of Arabs to settle in Israel at their discretion. As far as most of the population of the West Bank and Gaza is concerned, justice demands they be able to dictate a peace to the Jews, and if they cannot do so they can always strike attitudes and pretend.

Gotta get on that reality train. What Conor Cruise O’Brien said: there is no solution; there is only security. And it has ever been thus.

50 dead serious July 9, 2014 at 2:51 pm

I think and hope that Israel will be around for a long time, though I long for a kinder, gentler Israel.

51 Clover July 9, 2014 at 5:04 pm

They can always go the Kahane rout and simply expel the Palestinians.

52 Dan Weber July 9, 2014 at 7:20 pm

I have a colleague who lives in Israel and is a pretty hard-core Zionist in that he insists a Jewish state exist. The group he hates second most (after the bliss ninnies who think that if Israel would just play nice and surrender all their buffer zones that people would stop trying to kill them) are the American hawks who think Israel just needs to Get Tough. He says it might be the right answer, but it would be his friends and neighbors in the army fighting, his house coming under fire in retaliation. It’s easy to urge for war from afar.

53 Art Deco July 10, 2014 at 12:28 pm

The group he hates second most (after the bliss ninnies who think that if Israel would just play nice and surrender all their buffer zones that people would stop trying to kill them) are the American hawks who think Israel just needs to Get Tough.

Who does he have in mind and what kind of dichotomy is that? If you cannot cut a deal with the Arabs, you have to sanction them in various ways through barriers, raids, check-points, episodic military operations, &c (i.e. ‘Get Tough’). I suppose you could try frog marching them into Syria or do nothing and let them kill people with impunity. I cannot figure why he would ‘hate’ people who would not endorse the last alternative.

54 tt July 9, 2014 at 12:19 pm

really ? no funding from Britain or the US ?

55 Cliff July 9, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Not really

56 Rahul July 9, 2014 at 1:18 pm

It’s amusing to note who / when will use our President’s middle name.

I think there’s some sort of strong predictive value in this information.

57 Zachary David July 9, 2014 at 9:47 am

Not all rockets are created equal, we hear about a high number of rocket attacks but a very low number of deaths from rocket attacks. While I appreciate the fact that this is partially a result of disruptive/expensive efforts to mitigate damage as well as the fact that rockets can do significant damage short of killing (including real psychological trauma), I think American intuitions about rocket attack are based on much larger and more sophisticated weapons than those used against Israel. If I had to pick my poison of scattershot rocket fire or a long lasting economic blockade punctuated with serious and demonstrably deadly military violence I know what I’d pick. My choice is not a referendum on the morality or appropriateness of either action (though it informs my opinion on these questions,) instead it is only an attempt to evaluate the relative harms.

58 Dan Weber July 9, 2014 at 9:55 am

American intuitions are that people saying “well, they’re not very good rockets, y’know?” are kind of full of it.

f I had to pick my poison of scattershot rocket fire or a long lasting economic blockade punctuated with serious and demonstrably deadly military violence I know what I’d pick

Oh, it’s definitely better to be on the winning side of a war. The whole point of a war is to be on the winning side, not the losing or a “let’s call it even” side.

59 byomtov July 9, 2014 at 11:29 am

Hey. It’s OK to fire rockets as long as you’re not a good shot.

Don’t you get it?

60 fwiw July 9, 2014 at 12:48 pm

I think he’s saying that he’d rather get slapped than punched. Both sides are hurling rockets at each other.

61 John Mansfield July 9, 2014 at 10:59 am

Right, these 150 km range rockets are not likely ones that can hit any particular building. I think Israel would quickly adapt to delaying landings and departures for ten minutes until a fired rocket is down and the threat that it might crater the runway is over. If one does by luck damage the airport’s ability to function, such damage would be pretty localized, bypassable, and repairable. A bad rain storm would slow down an airport much more than this sort of rocket attack.

62 Peter Schaeffer July 10, 2014 at 2:44 am


Kudos for the intelligent response. The level of military knowledge on display here is rather low. My expertise isn’t all that great… But the comments display considerably less. If Hamas had something even vaguely close to MLRS ( it would be a real threat. Something along the lines of MGM-140 ATACMS ( would be a material thread. JDAM (with a delivery system) would be a huge threat. Hamas has none of these things so far.

A few obvious points. Hamas has rockets. Rockets are not missiles. Big difference. Beyond that, Israel has far more valuable targets than airports. How about Dimona (Israel’s nuclear facility)? What about population centers (hospitals, schools, malls, etc.)? If Hamas had the capacity for accurate rocket attacks, these would all be more valuable than an airport. Note that Hamas has attempted to attack Dimona with no success so far.

63 Ricardo July 10, 2014 at 3:28 am

Hamas has indeed been unsuccessful because its rockets have either been intercepted by Iron Dome or else landed in areas that are sparsely populated (and would not therefore be places that Israel would spend much money to protect from rocket attacks). Unless Hamas can demonstrate its rockets can get through Iron Dome, it is tough to see how its rockets pose a serious threat to Israel. Iron Dome is expensive but has already been rolled out in several places and protecting the airport and its surrounding airspace would be a no-brainer.

64 dead serious July 9, 2014 at 9:59 am

Yes, it must suck to steal land, build on it, block diplomatic resolutions, then cry victim when the people you’ve stolen from – who have run out of options – finally resort to a physical response.

That must suck real hard.

65 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 10:12 am

It must suck to be a compulsive liar.

66 Tarrou July 9, 2014 at 10:13 am

Yeah, it took the Palestinians a long time to exhaust the peaceful options, but they were forced into terrorism sometime in the late 19th century, some fifty years before the formation of the state of Israel, and long before an inch of land was “stolen”. And, it might be noted, long before there was any such thing as a “Palestinian”. But their honest and peaceful long-suffering was finally forced into violent opposition by a few thousand jews buying land legally from the proto-Palestinian landowners. Their Ghandi-like forbearance was a shining example to the world until finally, at great long last, after their diplomats had exhausted every eventuality (like invading Israel before it was even a state), their generosity spurned at every turn by the rapacious Israelis, they had no other option but to stab infants in their cribs. NO OTHER OPTION!

67 dead serious July 9, 2014 at 10:38 am

Google “Israeli settlement” and then get back to me, dog.

I know it’s convenient to cherry pick your time frame, but we’re in the here and now. “Settlers” continue to expand their occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights territories. To overwhelming international (although toothless) condemnation, I hasten to add.

You let me know how you’d handle the situation if you were Palestinian.

68 Cliff July 9, 2014 at 11:18 am

The Israelis conquered that land in a war. It is part of the state of Israel. The countries that used to control that land do not even want it back. What gives the Palestinians any right to stop Israelis from living there?

69 Dan Weber July 9, 2014 at 11:26 am

Cliff, you overstate. Of course most “stolen land” was purchased outright (from landowners expecting the Jews to be run off and get their land back in addition to keeping the money), but there are still cases of land theft. A minority, but they exist, and any real resolution will deal with those few cases. Don’t give the nuts who posts maps about all the land the Jews now own ammunition by going to extremes.

70 dead serious July 9, 2014 at 11:36 am

Many Camp David summits and the condemnation of the international community disagree with what you’re claiming.

71 The Anti-Gnostic July 9, 2014 at 11:42 am

The argument from the law of conquest is a fair one. And I assume also you have no problem with the citizens of Murietta defending their small polity.

Tyler’s Israel threads are amusing because they’re where all the standard academic tropes about open borders, multiculturalism, free trade, pacifism, anti-nationalism just evaporate. That stuff’s just for transient experiments like the USA to disappear under. Actual nation-states defending their geographic redoubts and ethnic heritage don’t bother with such delusions. Like I said, it’s amusing but there’s also some appalling intellectual dishonesty involved.

72 dead serious July 9, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Look, you conquer something and it’s yours on paper for some time, I get it.

But oftentimes the vanquished don’t just go quietly into the night, forever, and sometimes the international community doesn’t agree with how you think things should play out.

So if you keep the land and keep on with the oppression, you get rockets fired in your general direction and suicide bombs. Give it back and quit with the oppression and you get peace.

You don’t get the land, the joy of subjugating other people, and peace and quiet.

73 ladderff July 9, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Let’s everyone drink whenever someone says “international community” like it means something.

74 Cliff July 9, 2014 at 1:26 pm

They could have gotten that if they had expelled the Palestinians, but they wanted to be nice guys. Anyway, the rocket and suicide attacks are not really affecting them now. Last time I was in Israel (February) no one seemed at all concerned about them.

75 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 2:12 pm

You let me know how you’d handle the situation if you were Palestinian.

I’d cut the best deal I could under the circumstances. Of course, if I thought in terms of practical outcomes and achieved self-government, I would be in a 30% minority on the West Bank and Gaza.

76 dead serious July 9, 2014 at 2:56 pm

@ Cliff – I lived in Tel Aviv during Intifada Part Deux and traveled often to Jerusalem. I was in Tel Aviv during the Sbarro bombing. Worse things have happened at a Sbarro (rimshot).

Yes, the attacks are like water off a duck’s back to Israelis.

77 Cliff July 9, 2014 at 4:26 pm

I can’t tell if you are being sarcastic or not, but my point was that there are no suicide bombings now. The second intifada was 10-15 years ago.

78 dead serious July 9, 2014 at 5:53 pm

I’m not being sarcastic and yes, I was there in 2001.

79 Beryl July 9, 2014 at 6:24 pm

> The Israelis conquered that land in a war. It is part of the state of Israel.

The how come only the Jewish people that live there can vote?

80 Cliff July 9, 2014 at 10:40 pm

Because the law of Israel says so?

81 chip July 9, 2014 at 8:59 am

On one hand, the Left are sophisticated urbanites, looking down on the uncivilized rabble and rednecks that live in the sticks who can’t be trusted with guns or decision-making.

But on the other, there is the fetishization of the rural Palestinian with his unremitting worship of violence against the sophisticated and democratic Israeli.

It’s almost as if no real thought goes into these political poses. That it’s just a worldview formed around one’s emotional impulses.

82 Ricardo July 9, 2014 at 9:34 am

Put another way, it’s hard to predict, ex ante, who will be high status and who will be low status.

83 dead serious July 9, 2014 at 9:53 am

Pretend one day you wake up in your cozy home only to find cranes and backhoes in your back yard. They belong to my construction contractor. I’ve given them orders to start laying a foundation for an apartment complex. My plans call for another one next year. And two the year after that.

In this scenario, there is no court or police that will stop me. I’d be curious how quickly you’d resort to some sort of violence.

But no, you’re sophisticated and democratic so you’d be completely fine with it. Since this is what you’re telling me, let me know where you live so I can start building.

84 Dan Weber July 9, 2014 at 9:56 am

You are one of the terrorists created by Kelo, right?

85 dead serious July 9, 2014 at 10:42 am

While I don’t agree with Kelo, it went all the way to the Supreme Court at least.

Let me know what legal recourse Palestinians have as “settlers” continue to whittle away their land.

86 Dan Weber July 9, 2014 at 11:01 am

Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled on the settlement issue many times, sometimes the way you wish they would, sometimes not.

Of course, all the attacks on Israel aren’t about settlements. Previous pullouts by Israel

87 Dan Weber July 9, 2014 at 11:26 am

I appear to have pulled out of that comment in mid-sentence. Ignore it.

88 dead serious July 9, 2014 at 10:43 am

Also: property rights? Mean anything to you libertarians?

89 Chip July 9, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Arabs can own property in Israel, be citizens and elect representatives in parliament – even when these representatives speak out in favor of kidnapping Jews.

The Palestinians could have had a peaceful state and existence next to Jews at any time in the last 65 years. Gaza could be a holiday resort with its beaches.

But they choose death and destruction every time. The Libyans, Syrians, Iraqis, Egyptians and many others choose the same, and they don’t have the silly scapegoat of blaming the Jews.

90 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 8:56 pm

Actually, babble about Jew conspiracies is an aspect of Egyptian political discourse.

91 The Anti-Gnostic July 9, 2014 at 11:16 am

The USG and its State subsidiaries have overwhelming firepower. If the playing field were more level, government actions like the ones taken in Kelo could easily result in citizen violence against the government. You may have heard about the American Revolution.

92 iamreddave July 9, 2014 at 9:01 am

Many people claim one of the main reasons the peace process in Northern Ireland was given so much focus was the switch by the IRA to commercial targets.
In particular they showed the ability to shut down Heathrow airport (several times)–new-campaign-fear–terrorism-act-renewed-in-commons-1428076.html
and to target financial institutions

Have terrorists directly targeted any other airports (the infrastructure not the planes)?

93 anon July 9, 2014 at 9:04 am

The Karachi airport last month.

94 iamreddave July 9, 2014 at 9:20 am

Ah this one
Seems to have involved a lot of boots on the ground. Actually Wikipedia has a whole category on the topic

How does long distance versus boots on the ground change the game theory?

95 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 10:14 am

Wouldn’t matter much. The Arabs on the West Bank and Gaza, like violent Irish Nationalists, would actually have to adopt implementable political goals. From your mouth to God’s ears.

96 TMC July 9, 2014 at 10:54 am

Irish Nationalists did it in 1923 and worked out pretty well for them.

97 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 1:48 pm

La di da. The Irish nationalist goal in 1920 was secession from the United Kingdom, not the liquidation of the UK as a going concern. Crucial to the settlement in 1998 was the effective abandonment of the notion that the Irish Republic could readily absorb County Antrim, north Down, central Armagh &c and liquidate British Ulster.

98 TMC July 9, 2014 at 6:08 pm

And that’s why it was stupid to bring it up.

99 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 8:54 pm

Irish Nationalists in 1998 effectively abandoned a goal of having a United Ireland run by mafiosi like themselves. The contrast with the goals and political culture on the West Bank and in Gaza could not be more stark. (Something you’d see if you were non-stupid).

100 ChrisA July 9, 2014 at 8:05 pm

Its possible that the peace process in regard to Northern Ireland was accelerated by the focus on commercial attacks, but remember the IRA also managed to blow up the hotel the prime minister was in at the time, killed several senior politicians and members of the royal family and so on before then. I would guess that these were probably a higher motivation than commercial issues to the British politicians involved. A more realistic analysis is that the current deal that settled the NI dispute (power sharing) was on the table almost from the beginning by the British Government, it was the IRA and the Loyalist organisations who eventually decided to give up their unilateral demand and accept it (remember neither of them got what they wanted, the IRA a united Ireland and the Loyalists wanted no nationalists in the province government). The British Government (Labour and Conservative alike) generally speaking has almost zero strategic interest in Ulster, and would have dearly loved to be able to give the whole problem to Ireland, if they could have done it without looking too weak in the face of violence and avoiding the risk of a civil ware by the Loyalists. One example of this is the referendum that is happening in Scotland – Scotland is much more strategic than Ulster could ever be to the UK but the referendum was offered without the slightest hint of violence by the Scots. In retrospect a non-violence strategy by the nationalists in Ulster could have achieved much more than the violent one.

101 iamreddave July 10, 2014 at 4:26 am

One thing I think is under reported is the effect improved policing had on the IRA. By a combination of improved forensics, informer recruitment ( and in particular surveillance increased the costs on the Irish nationalists of an armed struggle.

Members of the British establishment were targeted throughout the Troubles (,_1st_Earl_Mountbatten_of_Burma#Assassination). It is hard to tease out out near self interested motives like protecting the financial districts and your own skin from publicly expressed far motives like peace and self determination.

>In retrospect a non-violence strategy by the nationalists in Ulster could have achieved much more than the violent one.

The SDLP Deputy Leader Seamus Mallon described the good Friday Agreement as “Sunningdale for slow learners”

102 Nathan W July 9, 2014 at 9:05 am

Welcome to Lebanon.

103 fallibilist July 9, 2014 at 9:13 am

Professor Cowen – You should just ask Aumann directly. But he probably would need assurance that you would not divulge his answer publicly.

104 Z July 9, 2014 at 9:17 am

They agreed to disagree.

105 prior_approval July 9, 2014 at 9:19 am

‘when do those rockets become sufficiently powerful and numerous that they can close down Tel Aviv Airport, which is of course the main route in and out of Israel, especially for well-off people’

Well, not until tens to hundreds of thousands of people living in Gaza become collateral damage.

106 A B July 9, 2014 at 9:21 am

Because it might draw a *real* response, Hamas will probably not attack the airport, unless they miscalculate or get so close to losing that they throw a Hail-Mary. Israel will probably leave alive Palestinian Operatives (Hamas or otherwise) who are against attacking the airport.

Having said that, if Israel were Syria, Jordan, Egypt, China, Mexico, Italy, the United States, or Switzerland, Gaza would be a charnal house by now.

107 The Anti-Gnostic July 9, 2014 at 9:29 am

That’s a strange list.

108 A B July 9, 2014 at 9:52 am

It was meant to be representative, not comprehensive.

109 The Anti-Gnostic July 9, 2014 at 11:01 am

I’m trying to figure out what Syria, Jordan, Mexico and Italy are doing on it.

110 Michael D Abramoff July 9, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Dunno, but this is what I assume he was thinking about

Syria: – 20k – 40k Palestinians killed
Jordan: 3k-5k Palestinians killed
Mexico: (one example) 1k-2k Mexican communists killed
Italy: 760k Ethiopians killed

111 Sam Levine July 9, 2014 at 3:58 pm

We know what a large response looks like, Cast Lead left thousands dead. You don’t need to to turn Gaza into a “charnal house” to (temporarily) eliminate Hamas’ ability to fire rockets into Israel.

112 Nathan W July 10, 2014 at 11:42 am

It is despicable to legitimze the forms of violence inflicted upon civilian population in Gaza by suggesting that other (respectable?) countries would do worse.

Yes, we were horrible to the natives. Yes, armed opposition to the government receives military response in Syria, China, etc.

Syria and China did not plant themselves within another country or established population.

The analogy would be more apt applied the other way around, but the facts on the ground are that Israel and more and bigger guns.

Hamas should be persuaded that Israel is capable of peaceful coexistence if the political organization can remove the “you shouldn’t have been here in the first place and we still don’t officially recognize that you are” clause.

Israel is there. Hamas should get with the times and recognize the facts. But if I were them … well, never mind that. They have cause to be angry. It will be tough to build peace. Crushing them to the ground is not making friends anywhere (except maybe strong relations in the choir?).

113 Art Deco July 10, 2014 at 12:02 pm

If Hamas wishes to protect their civilian population, do not deploy troops or place military equipment among them. If they wish to be left alone, quit with the rockets. Pretty basic. (Except for their self-appointed advocates).

114 dead serious July 10, 2014 at 2:10 pm

“Left alone” in this case means “live with the status quo, where you’re continually degraded and your land is stolen out from under you one settlement at a time.”

You’re a loon.

115 Art Deco July 10, 2014 at 2:52 pm

There are no Jewish settlements in the Gaza strip, Mr. Sanity. As for the West Bank, just where were there allodial tenures?

That aside, you want the settlers off your back, what are you willing to trade for that? And there you have a problem, because the Arab population has no tangible assets with which to trade.

What they could offer (were they of one mind) is an absence of disruptions. That is a fairly ordinary thing to have between two adjacent populations and two adjacent territories. Usually it is not even at issue in today’s world. (Every set of national boundaries bar three have in Latin America been quiet since 1895, to take one set of examples). And it is one thing that they refuse to offer; it remains the insistence of north of a third of the population on the West Bank and Gaza that the State of Israel be dissolved; there is another 30% or so who insist that there is a population of 5 million Arabs that must be permitted to settle in Israel at their own discretion.

So, there’s nothing to discuss at this time.

116 dead serious July 10, 2014 at 3:35 pm

“That aside, you want the settlers off your back, what are you willing to trade for that?”

A halting in the rockets, aka peace? Didn’t we already go through this?

The crazy Palestinian element can continue to insist that Israelis be pushed into the sea. They’re the crazies. We have those kinds of crazies here in the States too but most of the rest of us tend to pay them no never mind. Examples: the KKK, the enviro terrorists, the Tea Party.

You can’t appease the fringe element and there’s no reason to even try. I suspect that somewhere in the neighborhood of 80% of Palestinians would be happy with their own state with fair and reasonable borders, and to live free of checkpoints, ongoing degradation and sanctions.

Israel won’t grant that, so they’ll keep getting rockets and if things continue down this path, a resumption of the suicide bombs. I hope it doesn’t go that way but this appears to be an unending cycle.

117 Art Deco July 10, 2014 at 5:06 pm

The rockets are arriving from Gaza, where there are no settlements.

Consult Polling the Nations (likely to be found near an academic library near you) for data on public opinion on the West Bank and Gaza. It’s depressing (and I’ve reported the proportions seen in poll after poll correctly).

How your addled head managed to toss revanchist Arab nationalists, Earth First!, the residual KKK klaverns, and Tea partisans into the same genus I cannot figure.

118 Z July 9, 2014 at 9:24 am

The fact that rockets capable of hitting Ben Gurion exist in quantity, but have yet to be given to Hamas/Hezbollah suggests the Arab states have thought things through a few steps. Arabs are not very good at large scale organization, but they are very good at politics. The threat of supplying these weapons may have more value than whatever the losers in Gaza could do with them. That’s a piece the West often forgets. Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Gaza and other hot spots provide Arab rulers with a place to ship their nuisance factor.

119 Abe Froman July 9, 2014 at 12:05 pm

This is a thoughtful response on the game-theory considerations. Well done. I do wish to challenge the point though:

At some point though, the “losers in Gaza” may develop the indigenous talent to construct these rockets as well. Presumably the losers will be able to send a few students through some relatively sophisticated physics/rocketry training somewhere in the world (universities/military complexes/mercenaries etc). Despite having very little interaction with the outside world, even North Korea has developed some indigenous rocketry programs.

So let’s take Z’s point one step farther: At some point, Arab Rulers will be in the horrendous position of appearing to support the losers, while not actually doing so… and, should the losers will succeed in some massive terrorist event for which it seems possible they had state/government backing, they’ll be in a tough position.

So, Z, will Arab Rulers will turn on Gaza if they develop the indigenous talent to strike Ben Gurion? I think the answer is no, but it’s not clear to me that you’re wrong either. How should we play out the game theory with huge informational asymmetries about what’s actually going on?

120 Z July 9, 2014 at 1:12 pm

The term “sapient paradox” comes to mind. Why have these people failed to master technology the West was using fifty years ago? Hobbyists around America are using and understanding better technology than these guys. By next week I could have a decent missile ready for testing if I were inclined. I chase my cat around with a drone for laughs and these guys are struggling to make pipe bombs.

Part of the answer is the brain drain in that region. A similar thing happened in Ireland. The IRA was relying on dimwits for generations because every Irishman with an IQ above room temperature found better work. Then you have the low-trust society issues. For the same reason the Carthaginians ran off Xanthippus, Hamas and Hezbollah are unable to retain the talent necessary to make the technological leap.

To your point. If Hamas and Hezbollah were able to make the leap technologically to alter the battlefield, either the Jews take the fight to the Arab states in new ways, or the Arab states take out Hamas and Hezbollah. This is a gang fight. Hamas and Hezbollah are the street level dealers, while Israel and the Arab states are the cartels. Hamas and Hezbollah are useful as long as they are useful. They probably get that so that may also explain why they are content to make pipe bombs.

121 Rahul July 9, 2014 at 1:24 pm

What’s your definition of a decent missile? Getting a 150 km range missile is no garage project.

I think you are overestimating your abilities & underestimating theirs.

122 Z July 9, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Oh, I was exaggerating for effect, for sure, but the point is we have hobbyists making better rockets than these guys. I don’t think that’s all due to externalities.

That said, I would not put resources into building a solid fuel missile capable of hitting Tel Aviv from Gaza. These guys are in no position to take on the IDF in a decisive battle. They have no choice but to rely on a Fabian strategy. If there comes a time when the surrounding Arab states are ready to take on the IDF, they will not be relying on these street level guys anyway.

123 Nathan W July 10, 2014 at 11:44 am

Hobbyists in America got a better education that most people there too.

Actually, high school dropouts get a better education than most people in Gaza.

That probably explains a lot of things.

As for why they are angry? Probably not because their high schools are of low quality.

124 Easily Amused July 9, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Building the solid fuel and control mechanisms for reliable rockets is difficult and cannot be done ‘on the run’. You can build Molotov cocktails, RPG ammunition, etc., in that manner. The requirement here is build a solid-fuel rocket that must outrun Iron Dome AND land within a few hundred yards of intended target AND be self-manned.

-Former rocket scientist.

125 Rahul July 9, 2014 at 1:27 pm


I think commentators here are grossly underestimating the skill needed to build even a bare minimum missile.

And makes it harder under an embargo when even innocuous components might be hard to get.

126 Nathan W July 10, 2014 at 11:55 am

When you can buy many parts at local stores or online, it will be very easy for hobbyists to delude themselves into thinking they “built a rocket”.

127 Peter Schaeffer July 10, 2014 at 11:02 pm


“I think commentators here are grossly underestimating the skill needed to build even a bare minimum missile”

You probably meant ‘bare minimum rocket’. Missiles are a superpower project. Even Israel can’t build missiles with substantial U.S. assistance. Here is any easy comparison. During the Iraq-Iran war, Saddam fired numerous SCUDs (acquired from abroad). They were accurate enough to hit a city (notably Tehran). In the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union built missiles with intercontinental range and 100 meter accuracy.

128 Rahul July 11, 2014 at 2:17 am


I meant missile. @Z said in his comment that he could have one ready in a week. I was responding to that.

He was exaggerating for effect apparently but it has to be one massive exaggeration.

Yes, missiles are superpower projects. Explain that to @Z please. I’m with you on this. :)

129 Z July 9, 2014 at 2:12 pm

I don’t disagree. I may have gone too far rhetorically, but the point holds. These guys struggle to organize a fireworks show. Not only are they *not* rocket scientists, they could never be rocket scientists. That’s an important point. It takes more than a few smart guys to build a rocket. There’s a cultural foundation and infrastructure required that is lacking.

130 Abe Froman July 9, 2014 at 2:38 pm

@Easily Amused: Respectfully, there’s little reason to believe a rocket ranged at 150 miles needs solid fuel. I would invite you to consider the Russian R-27 Zyb of the 1960s, the NK BM-25 Musudan, (and purportedly the NK KN-08) which are IRBM powered by liquid NTO or Red Fuming Nitric Acid. Even the Germans were using NTO as the rocket oxidixer as far back as WWII. These are all regional rocket systems operated from liquid fueled propellants with ranges 10x as far! Control systems quite a separate challenge… but the “losers” need not strike the airport every time. The mere threat of a strike changes the situation quite radically.

I think its very difficult for Arab states to take out Hamas and Hezbollah. It might be to their benefit, but much of the population would view it as an outrage. They could do nothing while “the Jews taket he fight to the Arab states” – but that leaves us in exactly the same situation Tyler is pointing out above:

Tyler’s query is essential because we’re left with the situation in which Israel has no choice but to choose a defense strategy. Z’s initial point is that it will never get to that situation because you must have government backing for rocket development. In the short-run, that’s quite true. But the situation breaks down quite a bit of the longer run and… I fear… we stare down Tyler’s game theory in the post above over longer horizons.

131 ivvenalis July 9, 2014 at 8:19 pm

The reason it “needs” to be a solid-fueled rocket is because a) solid rocket fuels are easier to store and handle than volatile toxic liquids, b) the burn math is generally more straightforward, c) there aren’t any moving parts (e.g. fuel pumps) in the rocket motor, and d) the thing isn’t trying to go that far.

132 Peter Schaeffer July 10, 2014 at 11:22 pm


Ivvenalis nails it. Building a liquid fuel rocket / missile is much harder than a solid fuel rocket and much more expensive. Both the U.S. and the Soviet Union built liquid fuel missiles (the Titan series on our side) because we had the immense resources to do so.

Of course, the Apollo program used liquid fuel rockets because of the need for very large payloads and the ability to fuel and launch on a tight schedule.

Note that the U.S. Minuteman, Polaris, and MX were all solid fuel. For fun go visit NASA in Florida. They have quite a few liquid fuel rocket engines on display (including the legendary F-1). They are awesomely complex.

133 Peter Schaeffer July 10, 2014 at 2:49 am



134 Vladimir July 9, 2014 at 9:34 am

You’ve used the word “rocket” in this post which, if I remember my definitions correctly , implies the lack of an effective guidance system, the presence of which makes a rocket into a missile. Therefore it’s not clear that they can actually target the airport , rather they can just shoot in the direction of the airport and hope the threat leads to the rerouting of traffic. Second you have to make assumptions about , how many there are in fact; how many the Israelis have identified; the efficiency with which the Israelis can either destroy the rockets or kill the personnel with the training to fire them. A war of attrition can make the rocket fire stop. I’ve haven’t heard anything to suggest that the groups in Gaza have any greater rocket capability than Hizbollah did in 2006. During that operation the Israelis appeared to target longer range capabilities early in the offensive. I don’t recall Tel Aviv airport closing. The fighting will stop when either a) outside pressure becomes to great or b) when Israel has destroyed the the ability of the Gaza groups to escalate with longer range rocket fire and destroyed enough civilian infrastructure that Hamas fears the consequences for its rule.

135 Finch July 9, 2014 at 9:52 am


Reaching the airport and actually hitting anything are two very different things. I’m not sure the OP appreciates the scale involved.

Also, missile defense probably renders the whole point moot.

136 Dan Weber July 9, 2014 at 10:01 am

I have a colleague who propositioned a laser-based anti-missile system to USG, but the USG’s representative wouldn’t sign off because 1) he wouldn’t guarantee it would have 100% functionality, and the American press would tear him apart if a system was deployed and failed, 2) the missile would still hit something else, like a house full of nuns and puppies.

Israel probably doesn’t care about those two problems. I only vaguely follow the field, but last I heard THEL was dead and they still don’t have a replacement.

137 Finch July 9, 2014 at 10:11 am

There are geopolitical reasons for the US to be slow in deploying a working missile defense. I think this is a mistake, but there’s certainly an argument.

Whether the missile would still hit something else matters depends a lot on the context. If the Russians are firing a 100 ICBMs at the United States, the fact that some non-functional debris may still hit the ground is not that big of a problem. In the first Gulf War, Patriot missiles left still functional Scud warheads impacting, and added their own debris to the problem, so maybe it would have made sense to just let the missiles impact. Or at least only shoot at the ones headed for high-value targets and not, say, open terrain. Or use a defense that hit earlier in flight, or was accurate enough to hit the warhead itself. Since Israel is right next to the potential launchers, boost phase defense seems obviously attractive. The only problem with it is that solid rockets are relatively toughly built.

138 Dan Weber July 9, 2014 at 10:26 am

Sorry, I should have said this system being pushed to the USG was specifically intended for protecting airports and arriving/departing flights from Stinger-class missiles. It likely wouldn’t destroy the missile entirely, but make it unlikely to actually hit the intended target. The two drawbacks that I mentioned would not matter to Israel in trying to defend TLV.

139 Finch July 9, 2014 at 10:34 am

Ah, okay. A former colleague worked on similar laser systems for a defense contractor. But they were intended to be for use on bombers in situations where it wouldn’t matter much what happened to the SAM as long as it missed.

The MANPAD terrorist problem seems to be mostly dealt with by controlling the supply of MANPADs.

140 Finch July 9, 2014 at 10:35 am

> The MANPAD terrorist problem seems to be mostly dealt with by controlling the supply of MANPADs.

Apparently effectively.

141 dead serious July 9, 2014 at 11:05 am

You mean the USG didn’t sign up for a redo of Reagan’s Star Wars boondoggle?

I guess you *can* teach an old dog new tricks.

142 Finch July 9, 2014 at 11:29 am

Yeah, “boondoggle.”

All it did was end the Soviet Union and significantly reduce the threat of nuclear annihilation.

But I realize that to you, that was a bad outcome.

143 dead serious July 9, 2014 at 3:04 pm


144 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 3:21 pm

That’s not revisionist history. See the negotiations at the Rejkjavik summit. Getting the SDI program cancelled was an important policy goal for the Soviet government at the time.

145 Finch July 9, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Some would argue it was _the_ important policy goal for the Soviets at the time.

It’s interesting to note that while some in the West thought SDI would be inexpensive to counter with decoys and attacks on the system and such, the Soviets very clearly did not believe that.

146 dead serious July 9, 2014 at 3:55 pm

“Very clearly?”

At best it’s disputable.

“On the balance, however, the documents support the view that the SDI program, while affecting Soviet policies, did not help bring the cold war closer to the end. Instead of facilitating the arms control process, SDI seriously complicated it, creating an unnecessary obstacle that the Soviet leadership, eager to move to arms reductions, had to deal with. Finally, the evidence suggests that one of the basic premises behind the SDI program – that it would be able to shift the arms race to the areas of advanced technologies, dissuade the Soviet Union from competition, and eventually provide a more stable defense-dominated environment – did not work. While the SDI program had failed to produce any result, the Soviet Union had developed and was ready to deploy a range of weapon systems that would have brought the U.S.-Soviet confrontation to a more dangerous new level.”

147 Peter Schaeffer July 10, 2014 at 12:09 pm


The influence of SDI on the Soviet leadership is clearly subject to dispute. The most common analysis is that the Soviet leadership asked Soviet scientists if SDI was a real threat. The answer was uniformly “not for a generation at least, if ever”. In other words, the Soviet leadership felt reasonably comfortable ignoring Star Wars. By contrast, the internal analysis (on the Soviet side) of the stealth bomber was the exact opposite. It was deemed to be an immediate and lethal threat to Soviet air defenses (which it was).

The Soviet Union was faced with the Herculean task of rebuilding its air defense system from scratch (which might not work anyway) or ending the Cold War. They choose the latter.

148 Cliff July 9, 2014 at 11:37 am

Well Israel has the very successful Iron Dome

149 Dan Weber July 9, 2014 at 9:12 pm

On NPR Professor Postol said it barely works. But in fairness, Professor Postol says that about every ABM system.

150 Cliff July 9, 2014 at 10:43 pm

People in Israel think it works and casualties are extremely low, the reported success rate is about 85%. I know some people claim it has like <5% success rate but that seems unlikely.

151 Peter Schaeffer July 10, 2014 at 3:01 am


Yes. Rockets and missiles are very different things. A missile has a guidance system that enables it to precisely hit a target, even at great distance. In the Cold War the U.S. and the Soviet Union developed missiles that could fly thousands of miles and strike an enemy silo. Superpower resources were required for this engineering feat. Allegedly, the gyros of the U.S. M1 missile were made of machined Beryllium, cut down to tolerances of far less than micron. Supposedly a single particle of tobacco smoke would throw them off. Some sources suggest that the M1 gyros were the single most precisely made object in the history of mankind.

Can Hamas do this?

152 Dan Weber July 10, 2014 at 9:23 am

Are Hamas really building their own rockets, or are they being smuggled in from third parties?

153 Peter Schaeffer July 13, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Make that the ‘MX’ missile, not the ‘M1’. M1 is a tank.

154 Aidan July 9, 2014 at 9:40 am

Hezbollah already has the ability to inflict sustained damage on Israeli population centres using missiles and could perhaps shut down Tel Aviv airport by the same means if it tried to. Rhetoric aside, Israel has dealt with this reality by keeping its armed forces off Lebanese soil (something that Israel has also done in Gaza) and by leaving Lebanon to trade freely with the rest of the world (something Israel has not done in Gaza). This arrangement appears to have established a pretty stable equilibrium in which Hezbollah have something to loose by firing missiles into Israel (attacks upon themselves and the closure of their own trade links) and something to gain by refraining from firing missiles into Israel (an absence of attacks upon themselves and the possibility of engaging in international trade). The result of this arrangement has been a reasonably stable peace between the two sides, at least since the end of 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War. I would suspect that Hamas’ gaining a similar ability to inflict sustained, significant damage on the Israeli economy would lead to a similar outcome.

155 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 10:17 am

Israel has dealt with this reality by keeping its armed forces off Lebanese soil (something that Israel has also done in Gaza) and by leaving Lebanon to trade freely with the rest of the world (something Israel has not done in Gaza).

No, Israel deals with this reality by bloodying their noses when they get out of line.

156 Aidan July 9, 2014 at 10:58 am

Certainly, but the fact that Hezbollah have more to loose by “stepping out of line” that Hamas does seems to make them far less inclined to do so. Hamas are kept under a state of permanent siege no matter what they do. Negotiating with someone who has nothing to loose is both difficult and dangerous.

157 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 10:18 am

I would suspect that Hamas’ gaining a similar ability to inflict sustained, significant damage on the Israeli economy would lead to a similar outcome

And you’d be wrong.

158 Aidan July 9, 2014 at 10:59 am

What do you think “Hamas’ gaining a similar ability to inflict sustained, significant damage on the Israeli economy” would lead to?

159 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Being stomped flat. (And they won’t. The place is a latrine).

160 Aidan July 9, 2014 at 4:06 pm

The thing is that they’re already stomped pretty flat. The place has been under siege for years and not much is allowed in from outside except for some food, water and medical supplies. Short of the systematic extermination or expulsion of the population Gazan population there’s not much more the Israelis can do to them. And, despite this, the Gazans are developing increasingly powerful missile infrastructure. Eventually the Israelis may begin to wonder whether their stomping is the cause, rather than the solution to the Hamas missile problem.

161 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Short of the systematic extermination or expulsion of the population Gazan population there’s not much more the Israelis can do to them.

Except destroy their military equipment and kill their armed partisans. Nice try.

162 Aidan July 10, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Fair point, destroying Hamas’ weapons and killing their fighters *is* a strategy that the Israelis haven’t yet tried. It’ll probably provide a quick solution to their problems.

163 XVO July 9, 2014 at 2:27 pm

More dead Palestinians

164 Fil Babalievsky July 9, 2014 at 9:44 am

Long time fan commenting for the first time: the economics of missile defense are getting more and more interesting as fiber optic laser defense systems, i.e. ones that consume cheap electricity as opposed to pricey chemicals, come online. Defensive missiles covering a given area are much more expensive than the offensive missiles capable of attacking the same area–it’s vastly easier to hit a runway and render it useless than to hit a missile in motion, and Iron Dome suffers from this too–but the electricity necessary to generate a beam of light capable of prematurely detonating a warhead can in theory be much cheaper than the attacking missile itself. Iron Dome was in competition with an older chemical-based system called Nautilus or Skyguard, and now it’s being supplanted by “Iron Beam” for the lowest tier missiles. Intercepting faster and longer range missiles is currently beyond their capability as far as I know. That was a bit long winded–long story short, based on my very limited technical knowledge I’d expect to see Israel respond to Hamas’s missiles by investing more heavily in laser defense systems that can provide cost effective coverage of crucial infrastructure.

165 A B July 9, 2014 at 9:54 am

Agree with one small exception– it takes a lot of damage (i.e., a lot of missiles) to render a runway useless.

166 Finch July 9, 2014 at 9:59 am

If they were accurate, it would not. Accuracy and the ability to defeat sophisticated defenses is the entire problem.

167 Peter Schaeffer July 10, 2014 at 3:05 am

FB and AB,

The long history of aerial warfare shows that runways are easily damaged and quickly repaired. Hamas doesn’t have much to gains by blowing up concrete (even if they had rockets accurate enough for the task). Airplanes and passengers are far more valuable.

168 Finch July 9, 2014 at 9:57 am

If you’re vastly richer than the other guy, paying $10 to make him lose $1 can make a lot of sense.

In this particular instance, and frankly in many potential missile defense cases, it seems like the economics are stacked in favor of the defender.

169 Fil Babalievsky July 9, 2014 at 10:25 am

Good point–for what it’s worth Wiki says that an Iron Dome rocket costs 35-50k, whereas a Qassam rocket will cost about 800 dollars. Plus I’d guess for every extra Qassam you’d need more than one Tamir (which I think is the name of the missile itself?) for full coverage–mind you, I’m the furthest thing from an expert here! You’re right that Israel can likely afford that relative to Hamas, but paying ten cents to make a poorer enemy lose ten dollars is an even better trade.

170 Cliff July 9, 2014 at 11:44 am

Two Tamirs are launched for every one rocket, but only against rockets that are calculated to land in a populated area, which is less than 50%.

171 Aidan July 9, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Presuming that Hamas are capable of getting rockets that can hit Tel Aviv airport and decide to use them for that purpose, I don’t think that a missile shield would be able to reliably keep the airport open. A missile shield that was 90% effective would be very impressive – and pretty far beyond what Iron Dome is currently capable of, as I understand – but if even one or two rockets were able to hit the runway it would probably be enough to get most international airlines to cancel flights in and out of Ben-Gurion every time they thought there was a chance of rocket launches. I don’t think there’s an acceptable percentage risk of having one of their airplanes hit by a missile that most international airlines are willing to put up with.

172 Cliff July 9, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Iron Dome might currently be in that range, estimates are from 75-95% or so. Probably more like 85%. The system is designed for missiles with a range of 70km or less, they planned to up that to 250km but unclear if they have achieved that yet.

173 Rahul July 10, 2014 at 12:09 am

Yes, but neither are missiles 100% effective. For this type of missile hitting a runway is almost needle in haystack.

174 Steven Kopits July 9, 2014 at 9:45 am

The Israelis have to decide whether it’s a nuisance or an existential threat, and they’ll act accordingly.

My guess: We’re going to have some sort of short war here to clear out Hamas inventories of threatening missiles, along the sort Israel has fought in the past.

175 Rahul July 10, 2014 at 12:03 am

Repeat of 2006?

176 Hansley C. Orfenstal July 9, 2014 at 9:56 am

What’s meant here my “lower the mean, increase the variance”? Thanks.

177 Dan Weber July 9, 2014 at 10:16 am

“Have fewer incidents, but the worst incidents might be much worse.”

178 Todd July 9, 2014 at 10:18 am

For the first time in decades, the Syrian and Iraqi governments pose little to no realistic military threat to Israeli interests. Additionally, Egypt and Jordan are largely forestalled both by treaty and by the United States financial carrot/stick from directly threatening Israel. I’m not sure Hamas wants to push the game too far under these circumstances. Israel could focus on Hamas in a very central and direct way if it wanted to without looking over its shoulder.

179 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 10:20 am

Come again? Iraq has not been even a latent threat in 11 years.

180 Todd July 9, 2014 at 10:30 am

Right. And now Syria isn’t either. Those two states combined to occupy a large part of Israel’s defense work for many years. Even during the second Gulf War and in the immediate aftermath of the American withdrawal, Israel would have kept a careful eye on Iraq. But now we see that the Iranian-backed Shia forces in Iraq can barely forestall a lightly armed and organized force from penetrating Baghdad.

181 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 10:54 am

Iraq has not been a participant of significance in any war against Israel since 1949. Israel successfully destroyed its nuclear capacity in 1981. It sustained huge losses during the war with Iran and then was shellacked, subject to sanctions, and constrained by air power during the period running from 1991 to 2003. The Ba’ath army was finally destroyed in 2003. See Martin Kramer on Israel’s priorities ca. 2002 and since: Iran.

182 The Anti-Gnostic July 9, 2014 at 11:05 am

Clearly, what the entire Middle East needs is more of the soothing rain of multiculturalism. And open borders. Mr. Netanyahu, tear down this wall!

183 Joshua Fox July 9, 2014 at 11:43 am

These are Muslim refugees sitting on the border in Egypt just outside Israel.

They are hoping if they suffer enough, the humanitarian impulse will cause Israel to let them in before the Egyptian border guards shoot them or Sinai Beduin kidnap them.

184 collin July 9, 2014 at 12:40 pm

As much I can sympathize with the Palestinians plight, their tactics of terrorism and rockets pointed at airports, makes it impossible to support them and not back Israel.

I wonder if the Palestinians simply did the complete opposite and went all MLK on Israel. Instead of threats of violence, they demand equal and voting rights with bus sit-ins and marches in Tel Aviv. Then the prisoner’s dilemma changes completely.

185 The Anti-Gnostic July 9, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Israel is a proud, serious country defending its territorial and ethnic integrity. MLK-tactics only work in frivolous countries.

186 Easily Amused July 9, 2014 at 1:25 pm

I have also wondered what would happen if the Pals swallowed their pride and went the complete non-violence route. Seeing police officers wearing the Star of David clubbing protesters is not going to over well in the USA.

187 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Protesters where? Israel has withdrawn from Gaza and from Arab concentrations on the West Bank. You’re talking about the Galilee and Jerusalem? And what would they be protesting? That they’re a minority in a Jewish republic?

188 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 1:54 pm

They would still have to adopt a set of implementable political goals. Hint: a “bi-national” state is a non-starter.

189 Alexei Sadeski July 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm

>Instead of threats of violence, they demand equal and voting rights…

They already have equal rights.

1. Arab/Palestinian Israeli citizens have the same rights as all other Israelis.

2. Palestinian citizens (those not inside Israel) have full rights accorded them by the Palestinian government.

190 collin July 9, 2014 at 4:23 pm

I am suggesting Palestinian citizen go full MLK and not have full rights by the ‘Palestinian government’ but the Israeli government. Heck Israel has occupied the territory for 47 years, so they have been controlling the area for most of the populations entire lives. At this point, it is a one state solution with a separate but equal division here.

191 Clover July 9, 2014 at 4:54 pm

They are doing both the moral attacks that MLK represented and the terrorism that Nelson Mandella was known for. Both have shown themselves to be effective attacks on Western people. Hamas launches terror attacks against Israel while Abbas attacks Israel using Western notions of “human rights” and “democracy.”

192 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Heck Israel has occupied the territory for 47 years

Again, Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza in 2005 and withdrew from population centers in the West Bank in stages over the period running from 1993 to 2000. You can see from this map here that Israel controls the territory along the Jordan river and the Dead Sea, which is quite sparsely populated.

193 Clover July 9, 2014 at 4:50 pm

Israel could very easily reoccupy Gaza. The reason they don’t is because Israel is run by nationalist Jews who desire to annex the West Bank but aren’t willing to do what Meir Kahane long ago concluded was the only possible thing to do, expel the West Bank Arabs. But they don’t want to annex Gaza. Without the Gaza Strip their Greater Israel would be 2/3 Jewish, with it, only 1/2 Jewish. Of course with Palestinian birthrates they are going to overtake the Jews no matter what happens, but without Gaza it will take 20 or 30 years to happen instead of being close to immediate. That’s why they don’t want to reoccupy the Gaza Strip.

The reason that the “Two State Solution” will not happen is because the Palestinians have watched European people’s retreat in the face of terrorism and moral attacks, they saw what happened in Algeria, South Africa, and Rhodesia, and they see what is currently happening in Europe and the United States, which are using their immigration policies to displace their own peoples. I’m sure Muslims look in awe at the comparatively short interval of historical time, one hundred years, when London went from a capital of the most powerful worldwide empire to being a city where 40% of it’s people are non-White and only 45% are British. They hope that the pattern will continue in Israel with Israel eventually abolishing itself. Seen in this light establishing a two state solution would be a stupid thing to do because without it they can claim to be stateless, oppressed people that Israel needs to let “back” into their country, or give them the “civil rights” that Israeli citizens are entitled to. They hope for an eventual “one state solution” in which they will be the majority and the state of Israel will cease to exist.

194 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Of course with Palestinian birthrates they are going to overtake the Jews no matter what happens, but without Gaza it will take 20 or 30 years to happen instead of being close to immediate. That’s why they don’t want to reoccupy the Gaza Strip.

The figures vary some depending on which source you consult, but if you extrapolate given the trends of the last quarter century, the total fertility rates on the West Bank and Gaza converge with those of Israel around about 2030. Again, fertility rates in the Near East and North Africa have been tanking for a generation and Israel’s tfr now exceeds the regional mean and among the territories adjacent is exceeded at this time only by Jordan, the West Bank, and Gaza. Israel also benefits from immigration, which is not an option for the West Bank and Gaza and for which there is not much economic incentive re the adjacent societies.

195 dead serious July 9, 2014 at 6:18 pm

The bigger threat to Israel as it currently exists is that the Orthodox keep breeding like rabbits and continue to suck the well dry. They bring little to the table in terms of commerce or even military contribution. There will be less and less incentive for productive seculars to stay in Israel.

196 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 9:00 pm

People are the ultimate resource. Sorry you’ve got a bad attitude.

197 dead serious July 10, 2014 at 9:18 am

I’d bet a million dollars you don’t feel that way about blacks, Mexicans, etc.

198 Art Deco July 10, 2014 at 12:00 pm

People are the ultimate resource in Mexico and in the inner city as well. The problem we have re Mexicans is that Mexican colonization of the United States does not address specific social defects herein and creates costs and abrasions for the domestic population therein. The problem you have in urban slums is not people but the fragile social architecture, the deficit of order, and the perverse incentives in which they nestle.

199 Clover July 10, 2014 at 1:28 pm

The problem you have in urban slums is not people but the fragile social architecture, the deficit of order, and the perverse incentives in which they nestle.

Are the Blacks who live in rural areas of Mississippi any better? I think not.

200 dead serious July 10, 2014 at 2:17 pm

So a deadweight massive chunk of the population is a “resource” in Israel, but in the US it’s a problem.

Re: “costs and abrasions” and “perverse incentives,” ask a secular Israeli how he/she feels about the Haredim.

You’re a nitwit.

201 Art Deco July 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm

I’m familiar with your type in this country. I’m sorry life in Israel is distorted and disfigured by malicious and clueless bourgeois, but that’s life in our times. Why not move to the Bay Area, where you won’t appreciably poison the public atmosphere?

About 13% of the Jewish population in Israel is coded ‘haredi’. They have low rates of labor-force participation, which was not the case 35 years ago. You could benefit from better social policy and vocational training, not speaking of people as if they were trash because you dislike them a priori.

202 dead serious July 10, 2014 at 4:02 pm

My comments about Haredim are that they choose to be a drain on the system, not that they are incapable of contribution, or that they don’t deserve to live, or that they’re bottom feeders, or whatever it is you’re implying.

Your own contributions to this site re: immigration and minorities in this country leads me to this suggestion for you:

“Physician, heal thyself.”

203 Clover July 10, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Comparing Haredim in Israel to Blacks in America is ridiculous. The simplest point, Haredim are Jews, Blacks are not White. And how much crime do the Haredi commit?

204 Cliff July 9, 2014 at 10:48 pm

They also are very dovish/liberal, so not helpful politically. Some time soon the hasidem will be forced to work and into some kind of military-equivalent service. It’s inevitable, the money and political will to support their lifestyle isn’t there.

205 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 5:25 pm

to being a city where 40% of it’s people are non-White and only 45% are British.

I see your use of reference materials and general numeracy might improve.

206 Clover July 9, 2014 at 5:59 pm

You used no reference material to support your notions, which are supported by one of three sources on Wikipedia(UN, CIA world Factbook, and the World Bank), the other two show Syria and Egypt with a higher tfr than Israel:

Which one is closest to the truth, I don’t know, but you can be sure that Israel’s tfr is higher than it would be without it’s Arabs.

207 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 6:16 pm

I made use of the World Banks figures, which are available online. Israel’s tfr is only mildly elevated by its Arab population (perhaps 10%).

208 Richard Besserer July 10, 2014 at 1:08 pm

“they see what is currently happening in Europe and the United States, which are using their immigration policies to displace their own peoples”

Yeah, I stopped reading right there.

209 Clover July 10, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Nearly very thread a liberal or neocon says that exact thing when confronted with something that he disagrees with. Do you ever get tired of saying it?

210 Michael July 9, 2014 at 7:21 pm

@Art Deco

Do you support the right of people to form Jew-free ethnostates?

211 Art Deco July 9, 2014 at 8:51 pm

Where, why, how, and why are you asking me?

212 Michael July 9, 2014 at 9:38 pm

It’s a simple yes or no question. Do you support the right of people to form Jew-free ethnostates or not?

213 andrew' July 10, 2014 at 4:08 am

Define “support”?

214 Engineer July 10, 2014 at 4:33 am

“Palestine” would be (some would say is) a Jew-free ethnostate and it seems to have a lot of supporters.

215 Art Deco July 10, 2014 at 12:17 pm

Rights are exercised within states. Between them, there are prudential considerations and tribal considerations.

You have societies of migrants (e.g. Australia), you have societies ruled by migrants (e.g. Peru), you have polyglot societies (Indonesia, India, most loci in tropical and southern Africa), and you have ‘ethno-states’ (most European countries, as often as not countries in the Far East). You also have the Arab states, more particularistic formations in a larger ethnic tapestry.

Terms like ‘ethno-state’ or, as Joseph Sobran preferred, ‘far away socialist ethnocracy’ are palaeo-trash cant. Ethnic states are perfectly unremarkable in this world. As for Israel, it’s not even that homogeneous, inasmuch as a quarter of the population is gentile.

I’m not sure what the point of a ‘Jew-free ethnostate’ would be. There is no place in the world (other than Israel) where Jews exceed 2.5% of the population and the countries in the world at large where Jews are most common (the United States and Argentina) are societies of migrants where the signature nationality is a minority and there is no dominant nationality. Jews do not form a locus of criminal syndicates (as Gypsy populations often do) nor do they constitute a public health disaster (as is commonly the case with male homosexual populations), so what’s the motive? Very few societies of any size do not possess at least a low-single-digits minority.

216 Michael July 10, 2014 at 10:12 pm

So the answer is no, right? You do not support the right of any group of people to form Jew-free ethnostates, right?

According to your comment, all non-Jews should live in “migrant” societies or nominal “ethnostates” in which Jews are allowed to live? No group of people should be allowed to form Jew-free ethnostates, correct?

217 Art Deco July 10, 2014 at 11:35 pm

I gather you’re someone with some ugly obsessions. Get away.

218 Michael July 10, 2014 at 11:44 pm

Why can’t you give a straight answer? Why are you being so evasive?

What are these “ugly obsessions” you’re referring to? The topic of this post and comment thread concerns an ethno-state. You’ve made quite a few comments here. It looks like you’re quite “obsessive” about this issue.

219 Rahul July 9, 2014 at 11:57 pm

He’s asking you because you’ve been pretty noisy on this comment thread.

220 Art Deco July 10, 2014 at 12:18 pm

He can speak for himself. In any case, so what? There are other people who’ve had a few things to say here.

221 ChrisA July 9, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Attacks on airports in Israel are unlikely to be major factors in the future – their airports are far enough away from any potential launch zone so that missiles can be tracked with relative ease with plenty of warnings to divert flights away to an unaffected airport. No-one missile could put an airport out of business either, airports are just too big a target. Sure there could be a lot of casualties if they hit the terminal building, but that is true of any building.

I would also guess that a rocket capable of hitting a target at such distances and doing substantial harm would 1) be fairly large and thus easier to spot before launching and 2) have to have a more substantial organisation behind it than the current small rockets. Substantial organisations create risk for terrorists as the more people involved in the project the more chance there will be leakage and when one person is captured a large number of people are also now known targets.

From a strategic or game theory purpose, larger rockets hitting airports might weaken the sympathy that we see generated for the Palestinians. Right now their effective strategy (as we can see from this thread) is to generate enough annoyance within Israel to get them to engage in low level counter attacks that can then be broadcast throughout the world. This creates the impression of Palestinians being pushed around by the bully Israel. Who doesn’t love an underdog? So they are not really trying to destroy Israel, just provoke them. In the longer term their hope is that this creates sufficient pressure within Israels allies to force Israel to offer concessions to them. Escalating to larger rockets that cause major damage would actually weaken their strategy by making them look more equal to Israel and potentially could shift the sympathy more back to Israel.

222 Nathan W July 10, 2014 at 11:59 am

Why wait?

The humanitarian aid should be flowing already. We all know how likely this is to lead to a repeat of 2006, etc.

Vulnerable civilian populations, yes, even ones who despise the foreign devils who bomb their homes, will need medicines, fuel and other basic amenities. There are still organizations on the ground with capacity to deliver while minimizing likelihood that these resources will be “excessively” diverted towards militants.

223 Barak July 11, 2014 at 7:58 am

Can I be the only one to comment that there is no airport in Tel-Aviv (well there is but it is a small domestic one) the one referred to here in in LOD, about 15 km away.

PS: I had to go 3 times to the Shelter today.

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