World roundup: January 19 2024
Stories from Egypt, North Korea, Sudan, and elsewhere
TODAY IN HISTORY
January 19, 1817: Argentine rebel leader José de San Martín leads his army, along with a group of Chilean rebels led by Bernardo O’Higgins, across the Andes Mountains into royalist-controlled Chile. Although San Martín lost by some counts as much as a third of his army in the crossing, the combined force emerged in Chile and won the decisive Battle of Chacabuco on February 12, forcing royalist forces to withdraw north into Peru. The crossing is considered a milestone in the course of the Latin American independence movement.
January 19, 1883: The borough of Roselle in New Jersey becomes the first community lit entirely with electric lighting via overhead wires. The wiring system was designed by Thomas Edison as proof that an entire town could be electrified in this way. Needless to say the concept caught on.
Behind the scenes tensions within Israel’s “war cabinet” popped out into the open late Thursday, when cabinet member and former Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff Gadi Eizenkot said in a televised interview that The Gang should be prioritizing the recovery of hostages and should, toward that end, cut a ceasefire deal with Hamas. To the extent that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still cares about saving those hostages—and increasingly it’s clear they’re not really a priority for him—he’s only allowed for the possibility that they might be rescued via military action, a possibility that Eizenkot explicitly downplayed in his interview. The former general also said about the war effort to date that “we haven’t yet reached a strategic achievement, or rather only partially.”
Eizenkot even relayed that he was among a group of Israeli officials who, shortly after the October 7 militant attacks, talked Netanyahu out of making a “preemptive” strike against Hezbollah that might well have provoked a full-blown regional war—a story that makes Netanyahu out (rightly, probably) to be a maniac. Part of Netanyahu’s rationale in creating his war cabinet was to have two respected ex-IDF bosses, Eizenkot and Benny Gantz, standing alongside him and backing his decisions. That’s not exactly how this interview went. Whether it indicates anything more significant about Israeli politics remains to be seen.