Cliff May

What took place in Gaza and Israel over the past three weeks was not a war - it was one battle in a war. Or, to be more precise, it was one battle in what the soldier/scholar John Nagl has described as a "global insurgency" aimed at overthrowing the existing order, what we used to call - in a more confident era - the Free World.

"Yes, Allah is greater than America." Hamas supreme leader Khaled Mashaal said on al-Jazeera television a few years ago. "Allah is greater than the superpowers. We say to this West: By Allah you will be defeated."

Too many people refuse to understand: Hamas is not fighting for a Palestinian state. Hamas is fighting for the annihilation of Israel which it would replace with an Islamic emirate. Not the same thing at all.

Hamas takes inspiration, funding and instructions from the ruling mullahs of Iran, heirs to the Iranian Revolution that erupted 30 years ago next month when the Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile in France and established his theocratic regime. In the years since, Syria has become Iran's client; Hezbollah, based in Lebanon but with terrorist branches as far flung as South America, its proxy.

Israel's latest battle against Hamas began just after Christmas and ended just before the inauguration of Barack Obama. Israel's leaders apparently felt it prudent to announce a cease-fire before Obama sat down in the Oval Office and wrote "Stop the fighting!" at the top of his presidential to-do list.

In Arab and Muslim capitals, it did not go unnoticed that, as Hamas was being pounded by Israel, Iran did nothing to help. Nor was Hezbollah willing to open a second front on Israel's northern border. But as soon as a cease-fire was declared, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spun into action -- by spinning: According to official Iranian press reports, he called Mashaal -- who resides in Damascus rather than Gaza -- and told him: "Today is the beginning of victory!"

There are those who will believe him. But if Israel has succeeded in destroying most Hamas weapons caches and factories, as well as most of the tunnels through which Hamas imported thousands of missiles - even as it claimed Israel was blocking supplies of food, fuel and medicines through its "siege" - Israel achieved important, if short-term military goals.

Cliff May

Clifford D. May is the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.