Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Question

Juan Cole asked it and I'm curious about the answer:

"The wholesale destruction of all of Lebanon by Israel and the US Pentagon does not make any sense. Why bomb roads, roads, bridges, ports, fuel depots in Sunni and Christian areas that have nothing to do with Shiite Hizbullah in the deep south? And, why was Hizbullah's rocket capability so crucial that it provoked Israel to this orgy of destruction? Most of the rockets were small katyushas with limited range and were highly inaccurate. They were an annoyance in the Occupied Golan Heights, especially the Lebanese-owned Shebaa Farms area. Hizbullah had killed 6 Israeli civilians since 2000. For this you would destroy a whole country?

It doesn't make any sense."

So forget all the rhetoric about Israel fighting for their existence (they aren't), forget whether the two Israeli soldiers were captured in Lebanon on operations or kidnapped from Israel (it makes little difference really), forget about the idiocy of calling anyone who criticizes the current Israeli government position on the war "anti-Semitic" or "anti-Israel". Answer Prof. Cole's question: Why would you do this?

(Juan Cole entertains a Syriana-like scenario that even I have not fully bought into, though it is possible.)

More importantly, from a strategic, military point of view, Isreal's actions make no sense. As Martin Van Creveld, a military historian at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, speaking initially of the Iraq situation, says:

"In private life, an adult who keeps beating down on a five year old,– even such a one as originally attacked him with a knife, will be perceived as committing a crime; therefore he will lose the support of bystanders and end up by being arrested, tried and convicted. In international life, an armed force that keeps beating down on a weaker opponent will be seen as committing a series of crimes; therefore it will end up by losing the support of its allies, its own people, and its own troops. Depending on the quality of the forces, whether they are draftees or professionals, the effectiveness of the propaganda machine, the nature of the political process, and so on, things may happen quickly or take a long time to mature. However, the outcome is always the same. He (or she) who does not understand this does not understand anything about war; or, indeed, human nature.

In other words, he who fights against the weak, and the rag-tag Iraqi militias are very weak indeed,– and loses, loses. He who fights against the weak and wins also loses. To kill an opponent who is much weaker than yourself is unnecessary and therefore cruel; to let that opponent kill you is unnecessary and therefore foolish. As Vietnam and countless other cases prove, no armed force however rich, however powerful, however, advanced, and however well motivated is immune to this dilemma. The end result is always disintegration and defeat;"(h/t to The Galloping Beaver)

This exactly describes the current conflict in Lebanon and Gaza. One has to ask then why, why in the face of the lessons of history, any country, let alone one with the military know-how of Israel, would make such a colossal mistake in judgement?

None of this is anti-Israel. Indeed, in wanting to ensureIsrael doesn't make terrible mistakes which strengthen its enemies, I am being more pro-Israel than all the nattering, yes-men on the right who will happily allow Israel to walk into its own destruction. A true supporter is one who is not afraid to tell you when you are wrong.


Dave tries to give some answers to tIsraelIsreal miscaclulated and relied on faulty intelligence. They have tried to make up for bad intelligence with a less than accurate air campaign and a ground campaign that was not trained or ready for the job. Now where have we heard that before?


At 1:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the concept, what remains to be seen is whether or not the Hez will actually not fire on Isrealis during a ceasefire, which I seriously have my doubts on.

At 2:50 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Well Dazz, they did drop their rocket attacks fron 88 per day to 2 during the 48 hour-turned-12-hour stopage in Isreali ariel attacks. Nasrallah has gone on TV stating that Hezbollah would stop attacks on Isreal if Isreal stopped attacks on Lebanon.

Isreal has absolutely nothing to lose in taking him up on the offer. If Isreal stops and Hezbollah keeps going, then Nasrallah is revealled to be a liar not interested in peace, in which case Isreal gets an incredible boost in support both domestically, internationally and within the various factions within Lebanon. Hezbollah starts to lose some of the support they have gained in the last month. They would reveal themselves as the stooges of Iran, and their Lebanese support will melt away. If Hezbollah honours the ceasefire, Isreal can pull back with some dignity, the killing will stop and the opportunity to negotiate the lasting peace PMSH keeps talking about can take place. Hezbollah will have shown it can be trusted to hold to terms of its agreements and both Isreal and Hezbollah, making negotiations possible.

At the very least it is worth a try. The current course of action is strengthening Hezbollah, not destroyng it, so any chang certainly cannot be worse.

Haaretz and many inside Isreal think that this may make Isreal more willing to negotiate for peace as well.

At 6:43 PM, Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Okay, I don't usually do this, but I'd want to know if I were you. (Feel free to delete this comment after!)


At 6:45 PM, Blogger Mike said...


Jeez, 4 posts on the subject and your the first to point out the spelling mistake...I'll fix it.

Spelling is not my forte.

At 11:21 AM, Blogger Cam said...

I agee with your point. It is not unreasonable to hold Israel to a higher standard than Hezbollah. Like your analogy implies, Hezbollah is the immature child, while Israel is the adult. Israel has a democratically elected government that is a member of the international state system. Their military power is astronomical when compared to that of Hezbollah. Hezbollah may have started the fight, but shouldn't Israel be mature enough to realize that they only hurt themselves by retaliating in this fashion? Nobody likes bratty kids, but those who beat them are no better.


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