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Responding to the deadly attacks by Hamas that killed more than 1,300 Israelis, Israel’s government is preparing to mount a ground invasion into Gaza. The goal, says Defense Minister Yoav Gallant: “We will wipe this thing called Hamas, ISIS-Gaza, off the face of the earth. It will cease to exist.”

That statement and others from top Israeli officials make it clear, writes military historian Peter Mansoor of The Ohio State University, that this ground invasion will be a war “based on revenge.” As such, it bears a striking resemblance to the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan after the attacks on 9/11 that killed thousands of Americans. The goal of that invasion: force the Taliban from power and destroy al-Qaida.

But not much consideration was given to what would happen in Afghanistan after those goals were reached – and the U.S. found itself tangled up in the longest war in its history. That’s where any Israeli invasion of Gaza has unfortunate similarities to the U.S. war in Afghanistan, says Mansoor.

“Wars that are based on revenge can be effective in punishing an enemy, but they can also create a power vacuum that sparks a long, deadly conflict that fails to deliver sustainable stability,” he writes. “That’s what happened in Afghanistan, and that is what could happen in Gaza.”

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Naomi Schalit

Senior Editor, Politics + Democracy

Israeli tanks gather near the border with the Gaza Strip on Oct. 13, 2023. Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images

A reflexive act of military revenge burdened the US − and may do the same for Israel

Peter Mansoor, The Ohio State University

The US response to 9/11 included a declaration that America would destroy its enemies. The effort took decades, and thousands of lives on both sides, and never really succeeded.

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