I like Stratfor. I am not a worshiper at their strategic alter, but I think they have about as good a network of global contacts as is available in open source literature. And they make a serious effort to produce politically objective analysis. They are about the only source to take the threat of transnational crime seriously. However, in some areas they draw heavily from the thinking of the traditional foreign policy elite and so are sometimes blinded by the same hubris. They focus on rational actions and actors, and have a hard time coming to grips with the realities of religious belief -- which is increasingly the central motivator of important actions world wide.
That said, this is about as good an analysis of the current Gaza situation as I have seen anywhere. http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/gaming-israel-and-palestine?utm_source=freelist-f&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20140729&utm_term=Gweekly&utm_content=readmore#axzz38qfgmnCU
At the risk of my own hubris, I suggest that it misses one important point -- a point I have been arguing for more than a year. It misses the reality that this Administration has led the United States to change sides in the war currently raging between "Traditional Islam Influenced" states (like Mubarak's Egypt), and "Emerging Islam Dominated" states and organizations (like the Muslim Brotherhood’s Egypt).
In its modern incarnation, this war has been ongoing for decades -- since even before the Muslim Brotherhood gave it a face and organizing concept in the 1920's. The West was able to largely ignore the war for decades because the "Traditional Islam Influenced" states (mostly dictators with a few royal families thrown in) had enough power to keep the "Emerging Islam Dominated" radicals down. With the end of the Cold War and the increasing flow of weapons and technology to the radicals, that balance of power began to shift. Today the simmering war has broken into the open in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Gaza, etc. etc. etc.
Bin Laden (remember him?) was different from other radicals because he saw that the Traditional Islamic Influenced states drew much of their power from a position in the world order, dominated and supported by the United States. So Bin Laden (and Al Qaeda) set out to break the link between the US and the "Traditional Islam Influenced" states by violence -- striking the US physically and economically and forcing it back inside its own borders. They miscalculated badly, and were largely disassembled for their efforts.
But a different approach -- mounted by some in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, in the US, and elsewhere -- has been more effective. That approach has sought influence inside the Western "Holy of Holies" -- academia, and the foreign policy elite it produces. And when possible in the halls of political power.
President Obama and his Administration officials represent the greatest success to date of this approach. Over the last six years, they have guided the United States (and other parts of the Western World -- but especially the US) in switching sides in the war. NOT the war against the US, but the war between states influenced by Islam, and organizations dominated by Islam. Obama's military, intelligence, economic and foreign policy machine called the challenges to the Traditional Islam Influenced states "The Arab Spring." The US supported the supposed "moderates" in the Spring, by undermining and helping to overthrow the bad Traditional Islam Influenced leaders. Then the US threw its weight behind what has turned out to be the even worse Emerging Islam Dominated leaders.
And so we find ourselves:
· Standing aside silently while the American creation-by-inaction, the Islamic State, conducts ethnic cleansing of Christians who predate Muslims in Iraq by 700 years;
· Scolding Israel for taking the only action possible to reduce attacks on civilians by rockets and assassins smuggled in through tunnels;
· Looking politely away while US embassy and intelligence officials run for their lives in Libya;
· Hoping no one will notice while radical groups take heart and prepare to seize other states from Turkey to the Mideast to Africa.
Obama and company played a risky game. They bet they could align themselves with the Emerging Islam Dominated forces, show good will, and bring the radicals into the community of nations. Surprise, surprise. That's not the way radical religion works.
And so here we are -- holding Hamas' coat while an astonished Israel says, "Whose side are you on, anyway!" Well, as it turns out, the Emerging Islam Dominated forces don't want us on their side -- they just want us neutralized. And they have largely gotten what they wanted.
So thanks to clever maneuvering by the Administration and the US foreign policy aristocracy (to include inside academia), as the world burns and the fire spreads, we are not on anybody's side. Not even our own.