Skip to comments.The Next Last War [This one promises to be different.]
Posted on 08/22/2006 6:48:17 PM PDT by conservativecorner
Generals, goes the cliché, are always fighting the last war. It is probably truer today that reporters are always reporting the last war.
A Middle East war, in particular, has a familiar narrative: Israel is attacked by its Arab neighbors. It wins easily (sometimes after initial setbacks). It does so by overwhelming its weaker enemy with disproportionate firepower. And it then dominates the region for a decade.
This recent war was very different. Some of the differences were so acute that even the BBC noticed. But the tone of much coverage was still that of Israel as Goliath versus Hezbollah as David. And some of the more remarkable novelties were, if not entirely missed, then given less attention than they deserved.
Take the question of who started the war. The aggressor was neither one of Israels Arab neighbors nor even the Arab sub-state terrorist group, Hezbollah. Iran started the war using Hezbollah as its agent and Syria as its transit camp. Iran supplied the weapons, the training, the diplomatic support, and even some volunteers. This war was the First Iranian-Israeli War but not the last.
Another novelty is that this was recognized by two powerful groups of states usually determined to avoid facing unpleasant realities: Europe and the Sunni Muslim governments of the Middle East. Both saw that revolutionary Iran at the head of a radical and largely Shia coalition Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad was a serious and perhaps mortal threat to their interests. They therefore hoped for an Israeli victory.
European governments went to the extraordinary extent of signing onto a G8 communique five weeks ago that placed the blame for the war squarely on Hezbollah and the extremist forces supporting Hezbollah (i.e., Iran and Syria) at the very time when Israeli jets were blasting away at the infrastructure of southern Lebanon.
Sunni Arab states were understandably less overt. They simply sat quietly and waited for Israel to destroy Hezbollah and weaken Iran on their behalf.
A third point is that Israel was waging this war as much to preserve Lebanon from Iran and Hezbollah as to protect Israel from Hezbollahs rockets. Knocking out Lebanons infrastructure may seem an odd method of helping the country destroying the village in order to save it, as the old Vietnam saying goes. It is the main justification for criticizing Israels actions as disproportionate.
But it was the inevitable consequence of a doveish military strategy that sought to save both Lebanese civilian and Israeli military lives by using air power to destroy buildings rather than infantry to kill people. This strategy failed in its objectives. Instead of destroying Hezbollah and strengthening Lebanon as a democratic state, it destroyed much of Lebanon physically, weakened its new democratic government, and strengthened Hezbollah.
That leads onto the most significant point of all: Israel lost. Though it had the overt support of the U.S. and the covert support of Europe and Middle Eastern governments for almost five weeks, it failed to gain its main objectives. When the fighting was eventually stopped by the device of a U.N. Security Council Resolution backed by the U.S., Hezbollah was still fighting. And it will soon replenish its supplies of arms from Iran and of men from the young Shia Muslims inspired by its victory (i.e., avoidance of outright defeat.) The wider international picture is still more alarming. Former German Foreign Minister, Joshcka Fischer, had described in advance the three larger war aims of the radical Iran-Syria-etc.:
first to ease pressure on Hamas from within the Palestinian community to recognize Israel; second to undermine democratization in Lebanon, which was marginalizing Syria; and third to lift attention from the emerging dispute over the Iranian nuclear program and demonstrate to the West the "tools" at its disposal in the case of a conflict.
All three of these were achieved. The radical coalition took on the international community and it won. As a result the international community has shifted its stance. France has been criticized for weakening its original cease-fire resolution in response to pressure from Lebanon and the Arab League. But France, Lebanon, and the Arab League were all responding to the unpleasant fact of Hezbollahs victory.
Both Israel and the U.S. also made such a shift by agreeing to a cease-fire that ended the campaign prematurely for them, shattered the vital myth of Israeli invincibility, encouraged its other enemies to join or at least appease the radical coalition, and placed Israel at a legal and strategic disadvantage in future conflicts.
As is already becoming clear, the ceasefire will be only partially implemented. Hezbollah will not be disarmed. The U.N. arms embargo on weapons from Iran and Syria will not be enforced. And the new UNIFIL force will have neither the numbers nor the material to enforce the ceasefire on unwilling warriors especially if the Lebanese government begins to take its orders from the more powerful Hezbollah in its midst.
Yet as Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post predicted and as Kofi Annan confirmed this weekend, Israel will face international criticism and perhaps criminalization if it violates the terms of the cease fire when it is responding to the refusal of its enemies to observe them.
The lesson from all this is: Dont lose a war. But Israel will also draw the second lesson that follows directly from it: If a nation in Israels fundamentally weak strategic situation has lost a war, it must win the next war convincingly and pretty soon.
The first shots fired in that war will be political. Watch out for maneuvers in the Israeli government and parliament to replace the current doveish left-wing government of Ehud Olmert with a new government perhaps headed by and certainly containing former premier Bibi Netanyahu. This weeks protests at the nations indecisive political and military leadership by angry soldiers back from the front are the beginning of major shift in Israeli politics to a more realistic strategic and diplomatic posture.
Nothing will happen overnight. A new Israeli government will need time to prepare for the Second Iranian-Israeli War. It will not want to fire the first shot. But Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad will be neither slow nor reluctant to give it pretexts for battle. And though no war is ever predictable, the next war will be very different from the one that has just been interrupted.
John OSullivan is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington and editor-at-large of National Review. He is currently writing a book on Reagan, Thatcher and Pope John Paul II. This first appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times and is reprinted with permission.
I may get yelled at but I think that we should have a little talk with Syria. Let Syria know that Iran cannot save them should there be some problem with Israel or Iraq or the USA. Syria can either become part of the solution or stay part of the problem.
The lesson from all this is: Dont lose a war.
When a war is won decisively, nobody wants to mess with the bad a$$.
A knock out blow will usually end the threat of a challenge. The stakes are higher for the next challenger.
A draw or a split decision (the current status quo of the hez/ Israel conflict) will only bring more challenges. They will line up to fight.
This is not even close to being over. Israel has shown weakness.
Everyone expects another war. The ceasefire achieved nothing. Bush didn't even heed his own words.
Israel has to find strategies that work against the anti tank weapons of Hizb'Allah because Hamas will also have them soon. These weapons make it very difficult to take the fight onto the Jihadist turf
I think whenever the Hezbos lob a rocket at Israel, Israel should lob a bigger one at Assad's palaces and homes. Israel knows Syria won't go head-to-head with them.
More to the point. McClellan was a democrat and did not want to defeat the south. He wanted to have a big army and not use it. If only people could just get along.
It is not so much the equipment as how one uses it. The French actually had better armor than the Germans did in 1940. But Guderian used his force in such a way that he seldom had to face other armor.
I agree on all three points. The only competent, experienced combat forces the UN is capable of fielding will be unacceptable to Hezbollah because of that competence. The UN will accede and send in some poor cannon fodder who will sit in their bunkers because they'll have no other choice - that is one reason that Chirac only offered 200 troops of his own but is champing at the bit to claim credit for sending the Ethiopians and the El Salvadorans into the hot zone. I'm hoping the Canadians don't get suckered into that role. I'm hoping nobody does.
And so there will be another war, an all-out one this time that will proceed north into Syria. The Iranians will not be able to hold off Hezbollah until they possess a credible nuclear arsenal at this rate, which is, at a rough guess, war within a couple of years. That might prove a problem for them. In 10 years they might possess both such an arsenal and a reliable means of delivery, but they have neither at present. Hence I'm guessing that we'll be looking at an order of battle pretty much as it exists today.
That isn't the problem for the Israelis that the media are making it out to be. Their actual tank losses in this skirmish appear to be relatively light considering the weaponry involved. Dismounted infantry accompanying the tanks will cut those figures, I think, and they won't be phoning in their strikes beforehand this time.
The Hezbollah question will be settled through the Bekaa valley and only prolonged if that is avoided. It will, however, be an incredibly violent, high-casualty affair, which is just what Olmert was trying to avoid this time around. It may be beyond the strength of the IDF. It will at least be a formidable challenge.
The U.S. contribution will be, as it was this time, to prevent overt Syrian intervention. In a fantasy world the U.S. could sweep through southern Syria, investing Damascus and overthrowing Assad, the Turks coming in from the north in support. Unfortunately this is the real world and that's simply not politically feasible given the current state of international affairs. Too bad, too, because it might be cleaner and quicker than what is more likely to actually happen. I can dream, can't I?
I'll take a Grant, anyday. He was brilliant and much more aggressive than Sherman (despite Sherman's reputation). The Vicksburg campaign was visionary.
Yea, against RPG-7s, maybe against RPG-29s, but not against Soviet/Russian designed Korant
or Iranian built TOW clones.
Indeed it did. It tried the old bomb the empty building to reduce "civilian" casualties after a "land for peace deal" and in the end, Israel LOST. Let us hope some dim bulbs in the Kenneset finally figure out that strategy is a great one, for Islam.
In the wars that Israel won, they won not by disproportionate force, for they were vastly out gunned and out numbered. They won by fighting, killing the enemy in greater numbers than they lost people, attacking so fiercely that the Muslims lost heart and ran. Then Israel WON.
Note to all Israeli's, Omert and Peace Now is not a philosophy, it is a poison. One your enemies are working hard to feed.
"Bush didn't even heed his own words"
The powers that be want nobody to win. The kids in the losing ball game get a trophy so they don't feel like a loser.
Same for these wars. Someone wants everyone to be as an equal witn nobody having an advantage, no nation being more powerful than another. No clear cut winners. lets give everyone a chance to feel like a winner.
This is unacceptable. Peace comes through strength. Peace comes by intimidation of the enemy. Peace does not come by giving the enemy what it demands.
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