Cliff May

There was no uncertainty about who won the battle for Constantinople in 1453 (the Ottoman Caliphate), or who lost the battle for Vienna in 1529 (the Ottoman Caliphate). In the Civil War, the North decisively defeated the South. In the Battle of the Bulge, the Allies prevailed, and the Axis never recovered.

These days, however, the fog of war shrouds not only conflicts that are underway, but even conflicts that have halted. And so there is now a debate about the outcome of what might be called November’s Battle of Gaza.

On one hand, the Israel Defense Forces hit with extraordinary precision (and astonishingly limited civilian causalities, considering Hamas’s use of civilians as human shields) more than 1,600 targets during their eight-day campaign, demolishing Hamas’s command-and-control apparatus, killing more than 100 Hamas commanders, crippling Hamas’s rocket-launching capability, and destroying 26 weapons caches and more than 200 tunnels used for arms smuggling and terrorist attacks.

On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal editorialized that Hamas

emerged politically intact and strategically stronger after eight days of inconclusive fighting. The terrorist group fired more than 1,500 rockets at Israel — forcing millions of Israelis into bunkers and bomb shelters — but suffered no decisive military defeat. Hamas openly dared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to invade the Gaza Strip, and by not doing so Mr. Netanyahu left the terror leaders alive to strike again. Hamas also won a new international patron in Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who brokered the cease-fire.

Cliff May

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