The Changing Nature of Israel’s Wars

Posted: June 15, 2010 by Scott Kistler in Israel, The World-Wide World

Michael Totten argues that Israel needs to go after the hostile states of Iran and Syria when the time comes for self-defense rather than their terrorist proxies:

Prior to getting bogged down in Lebanon in the early 1980s, the Israelis racked up one lightning fast military victory over their enemies after another. That was before hostile Middle Eastern governments learned they stood no chance of prevailing in conventional warfare and before they opted for asymmetric terrorist warfare instead. Hit-and-run guerrilla tactics work for them, sort of, so it’s in the interest of those who haven’t yet made peace with Israel, or at least acceded to some kind of modus vivendi, to keep at it.

It is therefore not in Jerusalem’s interests to let them. Israel has a perfect record against standing state armies in the Middle East foolish enough to pick fights they can’t win. So why agree to fight some of the very same states asymmetrically in wars with ambiguous endings?

The Israelis should consider returning to what they do best, if and when they have to fight again. If they want to beat their enemies rather than fight to bloody and destructive standstills, they’ll wage the kind of war they’re good at and shatter one or both of the governments that field third-party proxies against them.

Totten shares with Lee Smith the conviction that the key to these groups is really in the governments that support them.  In his post, he also explains why he believes that Iraqi surge-style counterinsurgency wouldn’t work for Israel in Lebanon: the protracted time it takes to work, Hezbollah’s avoidance of the fatal error of violence against the people among whom they live, and widespread antipathy towards Israel that translates into a lack of local allies.

If Israel followed Totten’s advice, it would certainly change the equation in the Middle East.  For good or for ill, that’s the question.


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