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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Best, the Brightest and the Bunglers

Last updated: July 3, 2007

This is a very old post. But maybe some of you would like to comment.

August 25, 2006

An article under this title was published by Yoel Marcus from the Haaretz.

Anyone who wants to understand what happened to us in this war should read David Halberstam's book "The Best and the Brightest." Halberstam, who covered the Vietnam War for The New York Times, masterfully describes how John F. Kennedy and his talented men dragged America into a guerrilla war in Vietnam that it stood no chance of winning."

Anyone who does not understand why we did not wipe Hezbollah off the face of the earth will find the answer in this simple truth: You cannot snuff out the motivation of a national militia. The PLO was not Lebanese. For that reason, we were able to defeat this organization, led by Yasser Arafat, and get it expelled from Lebanon. Nearly half the Lebanese people are Shi'ites, and an organization fighting for its home has a built-in advantage over us. It is hard to knock out a militia operating on its own soil and willing to die for it.


I posted my responce in three parts #32-36. . . Here it is with slight corrections:

THE Logic of this article is flawed from the beginning.

Hezbollah is not a guerrilla force resisting foreign occupation. We are not occupying South Lebanon. And we have no commitment to developing economy or bringing democracy to South Lebanon.

Hezbollah is an army defending its own country using guerrilla tactics. This is its fundamental mistake and its weakness.

South Lebanon is a state of Hezbollah where Hezbollah invested billions of Iranian money to develop infrastructure and social services. And the Shia will support Hezbollah as long as it provides them with these goods.

Nasrallah has confused defending a country with staging an ambush on a convoy once a week. The IDF should have exploited this fundamental mistake in Hezbollah strategy by destroying South Lebanon's infrastructure and making it uninhabitable for its Shia population.

Hezbollah just pretends to be a real army. It absolutely cannot defend a thing in Lebanon. Guerrilla tactics are effective when fighting an occupation army from inside the population itself. Guerrilla tactics may deter another country from reoccupying the country but they cannot defend the infrastructure, they cannot defend the economy.

Hezbollah effectively destroyed Lebanon with this war. Lebanon was struggling with repaying its 40 billion debt even before this happened. The war came in the middle of the tourist season, the backbone of the Lebanese economy. Lebanon won't see tourists for years now.

Lebanon is most probably undone. For sure it won't survive our next confrontation with Hezbollah, which is already looming on the horizon. People who claim that Hezbollah won this war are no better than the fundamentalists themselves who claim victory whenever they manage to kill a dozen of IDF soldiers.

The fundamental mistake of the IDF during the last war, apart from starting the ground offensive too late, was that they themselves treated Hezbollah as a guerrilla movement. There was no reason to play the game on Hezbollah terms and keep retaking the same villages for 3-4 times. They should have brought bulldozers and level these places with the ground the very first time they took over them. It was the IDF responsibility to spare lives of its soldiers from useless street battles. It was Hezbollah's to defend homes and property of its Shia.

IDF should have messed less with bridges in Beirut and northern Lebanon and instead concentrated on the south. It is there where Hezbollah is trying to create its mini Iran. It was disappointing to see Shia villages on the border left intact. They should have gone on the first day. There was little sense to attack targets as far north as Tripoli/Akkar, if we had left standing Shia homes and civilian infrastructure right under our nose.

July 1, 2007

Beheading the Hydra

Beheading Hydras was held a very tricky business in Greek mythology. Even Zarkawi and Mullah Dadullah would have struggled to record a successful beheading or throat slitting clip with this animal as the creature seems to have possessed what modern biologists would define as an elevated capacity for regenerating lost limbs and body parts. Hercules had a hard time trying to dispose of one particular specimen as the beast wasted no time in growing back its multiple heads (to be precise that was a nine-barrel version of the beast).

When it comes to battles Israel has fought and will fight against movements such as Hezbollah and Hamas it's not hard to see that the present IDF military doctrine is greatly inadequate because it treats their military capabilities as something separate from the societies they reside in. In fact the military wings of both organizations are like the famous heads of Hydra Hercules tried to cut off. When one fights a society imbued with the spirit of martyrdom and self sacrifice it can be taken for granted that another couple of hundreds of kamikadzes lost to celestial virgins only inspire another couple of thousands to join the fray. Unless the spirit of such a society as a whole is broken the Hydra will continue to grow back all of its heads.

It took Hezbollah just a few months to restore its fighting capability to the levels before the summer war, and the only conclusion Nasrallah seems to have reached after that war is that he should better start the next one after having ensured that the whole of Lebanon is under his control. Israel may be unaware of it but the landscape around it is shifting. New types of Islamic resistance movements seem to be on the way to take over the region and these appear to be of a particularly hardened strain.

The IDF invested huge resources into precision munition in an attempt to reduce civilian casualties to the minimum and rightly so. This is not only because of the aversion this society has developed towards both taking and inflicting casualties. Israel's image across the world hit the new low after the summer war. At times it seems as if Israel is now denied the right even to the most basic forms of self defense. It may be wise on the part of the IDF to refrain from taking civilian lives and instead measure the scope of its response by the number of people left homeless or without electricity and water after each operation. But whatever approach the IDF eventually takes on this matter, it should have it very clear from the beginning that chasing kamikadzes from helicopters is just a hi-tech version of beheading Hydras the ancient Greeks way.

July 3, 2006

More on Hydras

More information on Hydras and various issues involved in their beheading . . .

Hydra is a genus of simple, fresh-water animals possessing radial symmetry. Hydras are predatory animals belonging to the phylum Cnidaria and the class Hydrozoa. They can be found in most unpolluted freshwater ponds, lakes and streams in the temperate and tropical regions by gently sweeping a collecting net through weedy areas. They are usually a few milimeters long and are best studied with a microscope. Biologists are especially interested in hydras due to their regenerative ability.

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