Israel-Hezbollah War

A view of the July-August 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war from an Israeli living in Haifa (under Katyusha rocket attack)- send personal comments to david2@lisbona.com

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

A must-win situation?

In his today's article in Haaretz http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/743169.html , the newspaper's veteran military commentator Ze'ev Schiff expounds a widely held view among the Jewish public in Israel that Israel must "win" (my quotation marks) the current war with the Hezbollah. This declaration usually goes along with the declaration that Israel had no choice in starting this war.

Israel did have a choice how to react the the Hezbollah border raid on the Israeli Army patrol and it chose massive retaliation as punishment, deterrence or both. In the far distant past of 2 weeks ago, our (Israeli) leaders spoke (with much macho) about eliminating the Hezbollah, teaching them a lesson and restoring Israel's deterrent power. As of today none of these objectives seems achievable. Israel's leaders took the gamble (maybe they didn't have any doubts, which is probably worse) that the most powerful army in the region could achieve an overwhelming victory aganst the Hezbollah guerilla forces. The gamble was that the benefits of a military action would outweigh the suffering on the Lebanese and Israeli sides and international disapproval. So it's not we didn't have a choice but either the assessment of the chances and risks of different courses of action was wrong or wasn't made. To say "we didn't have a choice" is really to say "Sorry, we made the wrong choice".

Now let's look at this current declaration that "we must win". What does it really mean? When we say "I must stop smoking" or "I must go on a diet", we mean that we know we should, it would be good for us, some part of us wants to and another part of us is holding us back. The declaration "we must" is used to encourage ourselves but we have doubts. If the consequenses of "losing" (I really don't like this childish, competitive, losing and winning way of looking at things) are really so bad, then we have to chance the rules of the game - carpet bombing of southern Lebanon, destroying their power supplies, killing thousands of civilians, risking hundreds of Israeli dead.

To summarise, if "we must win" is a way of encouraging ourselves when we are either unsure of our motivation, legitimacy, courage or ability, we are not in good shape. If "we must win" is an excuse for doing terrible things because of our fears, then that is terrible. I'd feel much happier if we said "We decided what we decided - now let's simply try and get the best diplomatic solution we can. We have shown our destructive power enough for the world to realise the necessity of new security arrangements in south Lebanon".

3 Comments:

Anonymous David All said...

I am afraid that Mr. Schiff is right. Unless Israel wants to live permanently under the threat of rockets from Hezbollah & Hamas, and quite possibly conventional attack from Egypt, Jordan & Syria, the IDF must do whatever has to be done to at least cripple Hezbollah & drive it from southern Lebanon. To stop now would show that Israel is as weak as the US was in Lebanon back in 1983 when Hezbollah killed more then 240 US Marines in a suicide bombing without any effective retaliation from the US. I.E. the IDF would be shown to be a paper tiger and Israel's enemies including those they have "peace" treaties with, Egypt & Jordan would swarm in for the kill.

Hopefully today's story that the Israeli Cabinet has not authorized a ground offensive is just disinformation to cover the call-up of Reservists. It is going to be a hard fight with many Israeli casualities and could take a month or so to complete to root the Hezbollah out from their well fortified positions, but it has to be done. Untill it is all this talk about a new international security arrangement for southern Lebanon is just a face saving cover for allowing Hezbollah to grow stronger and bolder in its attacks on Israel.

12:56 AM  
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