Call it 0 for 2 as the Biden Administration struck out twice this week regarding Israel’s imminent move on the south Gaza city of Rafah. The first fail involved National Security Council spokesman John Kirby. He raised eyebrows when he responded to a question about US support for Israel’s presumptive operation. The second miff was, of course, President Biden’s shameful announcement in an interview aired Wednesday evening in which he doubled-down on recent actions to withhold weapons shipments from Israel should the IDF indeed launch a full-scale assault Rafah.

Biden’s proclamation, even if—as some insist—it is mere political theater, is a gross betrayal of one of our greatest and most important allies. While purporting to be an effort to protect Palestinian innocents, it has every prospect to increase the danger to those innocent Palestinians while at the same leaving Israel more vulnerable to her adversaries beyond Hamas. I have written more about all this in another essay and I’ll save most of my ammo for that. Suffice it to say, for now, that by withholding critical weapons from Israel in response to the high civilian death toll, Biden has managed to both incentive continued Hamas battlefield tactics that intentionally lead to such deaths as well as to increase the likelihood that Hamas ultimately survives this fight. On top of that, he risks Israel’s weapons stockpile becoming too depleted to deal with multi-front adversaries, should any of Israel’s low-simmer conflicts boil over. Biden’s blunder puts everyone at risk.

Kirby’s was certainly the lesser of the two failings. While insisting that the US continues to support Israel’s right and responsibility “to go after the Hamas threat,” nevertheless, he again cautioned—as he has on multiple occasions—that the IDF is “not going to eliminate an ideology through military operations.” The problem is that while this might be a fine-sounding platitude on the surface—and, in a limited fashion, self-evidently true—it is, in any really meaningful sense, false, misleading, and dangerous.

It’s false because, as David Harsanyi sharply—if snarkily—pointed out over at The Federalist, history is heavy with examples—he offers the violent destruction of the Cathar heresy as one—that show the literal elimination of ideologies through force has efficiently been accomplished time and again. Such eliminationist extremism is not, of course, Israel’s goal. A more appropriate analogy is the decisive conclusion of the Second World War, which rectified the insane naivete of ending the first one with an armistice and not a surrender. The fight against Hitlerism and Japanese militarism ended only when the Allies had eliminated both the enemies’ capacity and, crucially, will to continue fighting. A decisive and overwhelming military operation did just this.

Kirby’s statement is misleading for two reasons. The first suggests a modest qualification to what I’ve just asserted. Outside the eliminationist option, it may be strictly speaking true that military operations—alone—cannot eliminate ideology. But it can bring about the conditions to do so. One thinks here of the 101st Airborne in 1957 escorting the Little Rock Nine to school. Kirby’s right: paratroopers could not drive racism from the minds and hearts of the angry mob that stood between those kids and integrated classrooms. But it could disperse that mob, enforce order, and get those kids to class. Compulsion, in turn, allowed the time and space for hearts and minds to ultimately change and make peace with the new reality forced upon them. Military operations may not be the sole ingredient to new realities but, pace Kirby, they are sometimes essential.

Kirby’s assertion is misleading for a second reason: it risks the false impression that Israel is trying to do something impossible. This is dangerous and irresponsible. To give the impression that in its fight against Hamas, or in its Rafah mission specifically, Israel cannot accomplish its war aims risks, intentionally or not, encouraging Israel’s critics to increase pressure for a premature ceasefire. Israel has not indulged in the belief that it can eliminate, through force, the poison that inspires Hamas. Instead, its war aims are more material: the return of the hostages, the destruction of Hamas as a military organization, and the destruction of Hamas as a political entity. Sadly, it seems increasingly likely that most of the hostages will never return home. But with the launch of the Rafah operation, Israel might well be on the cusp of accomplishing Hamas’ destruction.

Observers suggest that Hamas’ only real remaining fighting capacity is holed up in Rafah. If Israel can get to it, the existence of Hamas as a military organization capable of posing any viable threat to Israel is likely nearly at an end. Just as critically, having driven Hamas from Rafah, Israel will have eliminated the terrorist group’s control of the transportation routes from Egypt into the Gaza strip. Israel—and Palestinian leaders of good will—can then control the economic lifelines that might sustain the Palestinian people. This is not a power move. This is a means to ensure that aid distribution and everything else that can lead to the possibility of Palestinian flourishing can enter Gaza and meet the needs it is intended to. In that moment, Hamas’ political dominance will have joined its military capacity on the ash heap of history.

Meanwhile, Western support for Israel is probably essential for Israel to prosecute the Rafah mission to its full conclusion. And Israel must do so or Hamas wins this war—because it survives it. In the very beginning of this fight, I insisted that the only route to peace is the elimination of Hamas. This remains true; and so this fight must be fought to the finish.

Evil, including evil ideologies, will never be eliminated in time. But, realistically, the capacity of such ideologies to wreak havoc in the world can be diminished and contained. More idealistically, whether we look at the 101st airborne in Little Rock—or France for that matter!—or at the decisive victories against Germany and Japan—or at the operations underway in south Gaza—history suggests that it is untrue that force has no role in changing minds, creating new realities, or in helping bring about those conditions that might allow one-time adversaries to make peace with those new realities.