The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell offered a provocative insight into the nature of Hamas this week. Speaking at the Union of the Mediterranean Forum, Borrell said that: ‘Hamas is not merely a group of individuals but an unkillable idea and ideology.’ This view is a worrying one for Israel as it seeks, in the words of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to ‘eliminate’ Hamas. But what if Borell is right that Hamas cannot be destroyed?
History suggests that seemingly invincible organisations and ideologies can indeed be defeated, often after military defeat, through thorough socio-economic and political reformations. Take Nazi Germany. While comparisons with the Third Reich are easy to reach for, when it comes to considering the future of Hamas, they are valid. The downfall of the Nazis demonstrates the power of military prowess in vanquishing deep-rooted ideologies. Allied forces, through their unyielding aerial and ground assaults, not only toppled the physical stronghold of the Nazi regime, but also set the stage for an ideological metamorphosis. This seismic shift, underpinned by the Marshall Plan’s economic ingenuity, underscores a fundamental truth: when military strategy is skilfully married with political and economic foresight, even the most formidable ideologies can be unraveled.
The fall of Imperial Japan and Fascist Italy also provide some encouragement; in both cases, decisive military defeats marked the end of extremist ideologies. Japan’s post-war transformation into a pacifist state and Italy’s rebirth as a republic exemplify how the strategy of overpowering ideologues through force, when blended with reconstruction efforts, can indeed redefine a nation’s ideological course.
Those who say that Hamas is here for good might well point to the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan, two decades after it was kicked out of power.