We’ve all been following the events unfolding in Israel and Gaza, and questions of this triggering a larger conflict are starting to bubble up. To be blunt, this isn’t the start of WWIII, but let me explain why.
Of the countries in this region, there are no powers that (a) have the capacity or (b) have any interest in throwing themselves into the mix of things. The more significant concern for many is the possibility of a bigger player getting drawn into this.
The US has one thing on its mind – get our people out – everything is second to that. China might entertain the idea of involvement, but it simply doesn’t have the military capacity in this region. And Russia, let’s be honest…they have nothing to spare right now.
This region lacks a broad geopolitical significance that may otherwise entice external involvement, which means this conflict will remain an isolated issue for Hamas, Gaza and Israel.
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Hey everyone. Peter Zeihan here coming to you from No Lucky Milwaukee. Milwaukee. Okay. There has been a lot of discussion on social media in the media writ large about what’s going on with the Israelis in the Gaza operation and the term World War Three. And concerns of a broader regional conflict are everywhere. No. Just. No, no, no. There’s not a single third country that is likely to get involved in this, much less a real country like China or Russia.
So let’s start close to the situation. Explain what’s going on and then build out. So when Hamas launched their operation almost two weeks ago now. Well, no. Two weeks ago. Yeah. They caught the Israelis with their with the pants down. Looking at Gaza should have been be primary goal of an Israeli intelligence and it has been for 20 years.
The only real security threat that they face and they share a border with it and every text message and cell phone call that is made in Gaza goes through an Israeli cell tower. So they should have all the tools that we know about the people on the ground. We know that they’ve embedded within the system and they failed utterly.
So the only solution they have for rooting out Hamas is to go into the Gaza Strip and go house to house through an area twice the size of the District of Columbia with a population of 2.3 million and physically rebuilt everything from the roots. And that is a process that won’t take weeks or months. That will take years.
And when they’re done, they will then have to decide if they want to stay in occupy it or right of themselves, which they really don’t want to, or they leave and just let the next generation of whatever the replacement is for Hamas grow up. It’s an ugly situation, but it is a tempest in a teapot. It’s good for the region.
The only country aside from Israel that Gaza borders is Egypt. And people forget that the Egyptians control all the territory from 1949 to 1973 and hated it. I’d say that the only people that the Palestinians are more disliked by than, say, the Israelis are the Egyptians. And there’s absolutely no love lost. And it took Biden personally interceding to get the Egyptians to agree to allow aid into the southern crossings into Gaza.
The Egyptians would be thrilled if everyone in Gaza just dies. Jordan is a non-factor. Jordan It doesn’t really have a military worthy of the name anymore. Anyway, it’s a satellite state of Israel, so no problem there. Syria is in civil war and most of the fighting is going on in the northwest, in the northeast, parts of the country, which leaves the south.
Now, the south is primarily populated by Druze who don’t really care for the central government at all, but have sat out the war. And then you’ve got the Golan, which is unpopulated. So any effort by the central government or by the Iranian proxies in Syria would have to relocate forces from a hot front to open up a new hot front where there’s a buffer zone anyway.
And their chances of doing anything are very, very slim. I mean, this is not the Syria of 1972 when it had a military that’s been ravaged by the war and everything’s locked down. So they’re a non-factor. Then you’ve got Lebanon. Lebanon is a borderline failed state. Hezbollah is the militant group that is there. And they certainly don’t care for the Israelis at all.
But there’s two things that hold them back. Number one, they’re part of the national government. So there are other factions in Lebanon that would politically restrain them if they get too uppity, because they know that in the Israelis current state of mind, the Israelis would not think twice of sending in some assassins and just wiping out the entire government.
And that is a very focusing factor for the non Hezbollah faction factions within Lebanon. And then second, while Lebanon could definitely send Hezbollah could definitely set a lot of rockets into northern Israel, that doesn’t change what’s going on in Gaza. We’re honestly overtly shift the military disposition of the Israeli army. And Hezbollah doesn’t have an army. If they were to launch a ground invasion, they would be massacred.
So they are definitely the faction to watch, but the chances of them doing anything meaningful are very, very low. All right. Next, let the countries of Iran. The Iranians don’t have anything they can really do directly. They could launch some long range missiles. All that would do would be generates a huge amount of international condemnation. And get this, all the sanctions slammed back in in a matter of seconds might even get the United States through some slow boat trips by all of the oil platforms.
It just blow them to hell. We did that back in the 1980s. The target to watch there was a place called Kharg Island, which is their only, only oil offloading facility. You take that alone, that’s the end of the entire export industry for Iran. So it’s a question about whether they would risk that in order to do something symbolic that would have absolutely no impact on the ground.
They also have militants in Syria, but again, they’re on the wrong side of the country and they’re already engaged and if they crossed into Druse territory. The interesting because the truth about us look, they have always considered Hamas to be disposable. Hamas is Sunni and Arab, whereas the Iranians are Persian and Shia. And so it would be official position of the Iranian government is that Hamas, like all Sunni Arabs, are apostates and therefore should be wiped out and their alliance with them is purely tactical and they have played that card and now it will be destroyed and we’ll have to find a new card.
That’s Iran. That’s Iran’s entire position here. The only country that really matters. And it’s not military when it is Saudi Arabia, because the Saudi Arabians were carrying out talks with the Israelis on normalization. The idea would be that if you can get the major Arab states to recognize the existence of Israel, then eventually you’ll have this Arab wall versus the Iranians.
And it doesn’t matter what the Americans think anymore is, it’s all taken care of. The debate here is whether to continue those talks. There’s a generational split in Saudi Arabia. The older generation, the King. King Solomon likes the idea of China being the Palestinian cause and would think that if we’re going to normalize, we should get something of real substance for the Palestinians.
Maybe it’s more control of the West Bank, maybe it’s more self-governance, maybe it’s more money, maybe it’s official statehood. They’re flexible in what that thing is as long as it’s real. And then you’ve got the younger generation. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Sultan, he’s the guy who likes to dismember and barbecue journalists who couldn’t care less about the Palestinians.
He just wants them to all go away so he can get on with reshaping the region under his leadership. But think of King Solomon as the CEO who spends a lot of time fishing, and Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince, as the CEO who actually runs the shop and we’re going to find out in the next month who actually is the major decision maker based on how this decision base of Israel goes.
But no one in Saudi Arabia is talking about resurrecting the sort of policies that Saudi Arabia enacted back in the 1970s when they created OPEC and basically shut down global oil markets until Israel was punished. That’s not even on the docket right now. So their discussion is relevant, but not from a war point of view. And that’s everybody in the region.
Let’s go out again. Start with the United States. We are not not not going to be putting boots on the ground in Gaza or Israel in order to fight this conflict or help the Israelis with the cleansing operation. So there’s never been something the U.S. has ever considered in any age, at any war in this region or anywhere else.
Israel in this region, sorry. Very important detail. What we will do is help them with intelligence and equipment and munition and what we will do is attempt to locate our own people. The Israelis have at least a hundred of their citizens have been kidnaped and take back into Gaza. There’s at least a dozen American Jews and the Israelis and the Americans have very, very different views when it comes to hostages.
The Israelis treat it as a non-factor because they don’t have they have limited resources. And if they allow their citizens to be kidnaped, allow that to dictate policy, they’re always going to be on the back foot. But the United States, number one, has a lot more resources to throw at this if it wants to. And number two, there’s a social contract between the American citizenry and its population.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you’ve done, whoever has you, we will come for you. But first we have to find you. And so the reason that we’ve got an amphibious assault group and MCU streaming to the area so that the Marines and the Special Forces have a platform to operate from. And there’s already very credible information that some special forces are already on the ground in Israel, liaising with the Israelis intelligence issues.
Hopefully, they’ll be found. Getting them out will be hideous because they’ve undoubtedly been split up and relocated to places of military significance to a loss, which means you have to go in on the ground with small forces and physically retrieve them. And that will not be pretty. All right. What else? Okay. So that’s the United States. Let’s talk China.
China can’t deploy forces past Singapore. I mean, there may be just doesn’t have a range. And in a question of Gaza, it’s just a political issue of what makes the United States look bad. And what we’re seeing here is an outcome of the catastrophic decisions that the Chinese have made over the last five, ten years in managing their own political system.
Chairman Ji is executed the messenger so many times that no one will bring him information and he’s making decisions in the dark and the bureaucracy is kind of run wild, trying to make the cult of personality happy. So they’ve sided firmly with the Palestinians so far, which is making a lot of people take note. Under normal circumstances, I would say that the Chinese have no interest in partnering with Iran because they’re the world’s largest oil importer and the Saudis are the world’s largest oil exporter.
And so they would sell out the Iranians in a heartbeat if it meant they could get a better deal with the Saudis over the long run. The concern with saying that firmly today is the decision making. The Forbidden City has collapsed so completely that it’s not even clear what degree to which JI is personally aware of what’s going on in the Middle East at all.
I’m guessing he knows more they normally would because Putin was just in town as part of the Belt and Road Summit and he probably got an earful and probably requested some more information for himself. But the capacity of China to play in this field is ridiculous. And I’m siding with the Palestinians when they’re more dependent upon the Arab states for their energy.
Security is something that has been noted in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi and in Kuwait City and all the others. The Chinese are dramatically out of touch, but regardless, they don’t have the capacity to put boots on the ground in this region. And then finally, you’ve got Russia. I don’t know if he has noticed that the Russians are in a war in Ukraine that is using all of their military bandwidth and are having a hard time operating in the Black Sea.
And they can’t get forces out of the Black Sea at wartime under a treaty called the Treaty of Montreal. So they can’t be could fly them commercially. Where would you fly into. Can’t go to Jordan. Can’t go to Israel. Can’t go to Egypt. Okay. Yeah, there’s absolutely you’d have to fly a commercial jet over the area and a parachute out the emergency exit.
I mean, just ask. Okay. So there is no one not no one. No one who is going to be sending troops or in into any sort of meaningful military operations. This is between Hamas and the Gazans and Israel, and that’s it. Economically, there’s nothing in play here. This region, Israel, Palestine, produces nothing, transits, nothing and consumes very little.
There’s not an oil story here. There’s not a lithium story or agricultural story here. There’s a horrible cleansing operation that’s about to begin, and that’s enough. But that doesn’t mean escalation is going to happen at all.