Israel Can't Win



First of all Happy New Year from Defense Tech. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and are ready to get back to work helping us decipher the strategic and technological dilemmas facing the world's militaries.

I heard today that a friend and colleague of mine Tom Ricks of the Washington Post has started a new gig blogging with Foreign Policy online -- relaunched by the Washingtonpost/Newsweek/Slate publishing group after it purchased the magazine from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in September.

Let's just say the so-called "Best Defense" blog is off to an OK start. But that's fine, Tom will hit his stride and learn that he needs to shed some of that journalistic punch pulling he's been trained to do for his entire career. And there have been a bunch of updates since I first checked the blog this morning that are damned good and we're looking forward to more.

Anyway, he summed up for me a thought I'd had since this whole Gaza goat rope started. Seems to me Israel can't possibly "win" with Operation Cast Lead as it stands. I just don't understand the goals here and can't put together the logic that must have led them to this decision -- unless of course it's PURELY politics (don't forget, FM Livni and DM Barak are both running for PM in February against Likud hawk Netanyahu).

Here's what Ricks pulled from his sources:

Terry Daly, one of the smartest people I know on counterinsurgency issues, doesn't see much hope for Israel's crackdown in Gaza. "Don't ask me what the solution is to Israel's strategic problem," he comments in a note. "Thomas Henriksen's excellent 2007 Joint Special Operations University monograph, 'The Israeli Approach to Irregular Warfare and Implications for the United States,' clearly relates how the Israelis have tried most of the usual solutions. For 60 years, though, Israel through the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), basically has relied on 'the utility of force.' The IDF became and remains a shining example of conventional military excellence, but it also seems to be heading for defeat in 'war amongst the people,' where the objective is to win peoples' support not to kill them and break all their toys. . . . Meanwhile the Muslim nihilists must be salivating at the thought of getting the IDF on the ground in the Gaza Strip."

Exactly...and how in a million years did Israel think it would get anything but international condemnation for its invasion -- despite the moral justification for responding to repeated rocket attacks from a newly independent state free of the excuse of "occupation." Humanitarian crisis, proportionality, civilian casualties...all the vocabulary of the news leads describing Israel's strike. And where does it end? What's the goal?

Ricks suggests reading this analysis from the Guardian newspaper...

"Islamic Jihad - the extremist group behind many of the rocket attacks on Israeli towns - has got the war it wished for at least."

Some food for thought and I'd like to hear your thoughts on this too...

And, again, a hearty welcome to the new medium, Tom. We'll be keeping close tabs on your stuff and cribbing like a third grader who forgot his homework.

-- Christian

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