Monday, December 29, 2008

Teaching A Lesson (Appendix)

The indispensable Tom Segev, on teaching miltary lessons as a way to establish deterrence. 

And here are only the most important past examples of lessons taught and learned: Qibya, 1953,  Samu'a, 1966, "Security borders," 1967-73, Aerial bombing of Lebanon, 1974-5, Litani Operation, 1978, Lebanon War, 1982, "Iron Fist" suppression of the Intifada, 1988, Operations Grapes of Wrath, 1995, Defensive Shield, 2002, Second Lebanon War, 2006.  

ALL OF THESE operations have in common serious provocations from Palestinian and, after the extended occupation to South Lebanon, Hezbollah insurgents; provocations including the loss of Israeli lives. The response of Israeli military professionals, in all cases, was that Israel's response would have to be disproportionate; that the attack was coming because Israel was perceived as weak and needed to improve its deterrent power. 

But in no cases did the Israeli attack deter further attack and in many cases it unleashed unanticipated violence, prompting new alliances against Israel which then led to new, more complex attacks, along with increasing diplomatic isolation. 

This morning, another Israeli was killed, as 57 rockets were launched from Gaza. Hezbollah is threatening to be drawn in. Israeli radio is reporting that Israel's ambassador to Jordan is being asked to leave "for his safety," and four Israelis were stabbed in Modiin.  Meretz leader Haim Oron is arguing that Israel must immediately work to establish a new cease-fire, that if the shock of this attack leads to a firmer, better calm, Israel should accept this; that there is no military solution to Palestinian insurgency. 

But can Israel's military leaders accept a cease-fire, after all this carnage, when 57 missiles have just fallen? When you are a hammer, is not every problem a nail?

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

But in no cases did the Israeli attack deter further attack

Here's what the wikipedia article you linked to has to say about this:

The effects of Operation Defensive Shield were an initial drop in half (46 percent) in the number of suicide bombings -- from 22 in February-March to 12 in April-May -- and a 70 percent drop in executed attacks between the first half of 2002 and the second half (43 January-June, 13 July-December). While 2003 had a total of 25 executed suicide bombings in comparison to 56 in 2002, the main difference was the number of attacks which did not come to realization (184) either due to Israeli interception or problems in the execution. 2003 also saw a 35 percent drop in the number of fatalities from 220 deaths in 2002 to 142 deaths resulting from suicide bombings.[18]"

Meretz leader Haim Oron is arguing that Israel must immediately work to establish a new cease-fire, that if the shock of this attack leads to a firmer, better calm, Israel should accept this; that there is no military solution to Palestinian insurgency.

But can Israel's military leaders accept a cease-fire, after all this carnage, when 57 missiles have just fallen? When you are a hammer, is not every problem a nail?


Here's what Haaretz is saying about the war's aims, which I assume represents the conventional wisdom pretty well:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1050405.html

As the situation appears now, Israel has assigned modest goals for itself: weakening Hamas rule in Gaza and restoring a prolonged lull along the border under terms that are more convenient for us following an internationally imposed compromise.

A "firmer, better, calm" is the goal of the war. Apparently the difference between Haim Oron and the war's prosecutors and is that the former thinks that goal has already been assured, while the latter wants to wait until international/US condemnation forces an end to the war (which probably won't take as long as it did in Lebanon).

Bernard Avishai said...

Just to clarify, Hamas moved from suicide bombings to missile strikes after Defensive Shield, for all the obvious reasons. The reduction in suicide bombings has not meant that attacks have been deterred. My point is that calm has never been the consequence of massive, killer attacks.

Israel has not clarified its aims. If all it wants to do is show its power and get a new cease-fire, it could have done this without killing and wounding hundreds; it should anyway get the international community and Arab states to help it get a new cease-fire right away. Every hour it hesitates works to Hamas's advantage. If, however, it wants to topple Hamas, it had better be ready for house-to-house fighting, dozens of (if not hundreds) of casualties, a new Intifada (including Israeli Arabs), and complete international isolation.

I have no confidence that Ehud Barak has come to a decision about what the aims actually are, though I would not be surprised if he called a halt by the end of the week when the choice becomes utterly obvious. Oh, and then we'll get the diplomacy we could have had, because Hamas is "terrorist," which at this point means God knows what.

hmunson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hmunson said...

The second Lebanon war was in 2006 not 2005. But your basic argument is correct--as usual.

Anonymous said...

Well this bolg now censors. Typical left wing tactic.

I read " Hadash MK Muhammad Barakei added that he was in his one and only homeland, while the Jewish MKs had other homelands to return to".

I think M. Baraki expresses the sentiments of all Arabs and especially Palestinians.
And you Jews talk about Hebrew Republics!!

We now go to these blogs to bolster our struggle. Dr. Avi- Shai helps us.
Who needs the PLO news...who needs Al-Jezzera when we can go to this blog?

Allah be praised that we have people like Avi-Shai. A Professor and Dr. helping us in this struggle,
Dr. Avi-Shai is not a traitor to Jews.
why don't you Jews go back where you came from.
You can do it now!

Bernard Avishai said...

Thank you, hmunson. The Second Lebanon War was of course in 2006, and I have corrected it.

Anonymous, I am not sure what you mean by censoring you or anybody. I made the decision some months ago that I would let the comments stand without my interference. I do appreciate civility, however.

Y. Ben-David said...

Dr Avishai, it was exactly a year ago that you wrote on your blog about how Prime Minister Ehud Olmert came up to you at a New Year's party and told you, with tears in his eyes, about how he finally realized that you and the rest of the Left were correct all along and Israel had to give up all the territories captured in 1967 and that he was the one who was going to do it.
Don't you not the irony about how this man of peace has given Israel two bloody wars in 2.5 years, a record? How ever since your beloved "peace process" started by bringing mass-murderer Arafat and his terror gangs to Israel there has been far more death and destruction than there was BEFORE there was a so-called "peace process"? When are people going to wake up and realize your "peace path" has been a disaster?

I have no faith in this regime in power that they know what they are doing in this war....most likely it will end in failure as the last one in 2006. No matter...Barak will present himself to the voters as a "tough, victorious General".

zevshanken said...

Your column about teaching lessons inspired this Instant proverb:

A strong man is formidable; a strong man who does not know that he is strong is deadly.

Or psychotic.

Israel's got one of the best armies in the world.

Gaza's got ineffective rockets with small range.

We want to teach them a lesson?

The first lesson we are teaching them is that we're paranoid bullies.

We have overwhelming power and we act like angry hysterics instead of noble leaders. We're still ghetto Jews. We're still learning the wrong lesson of the Holocaust, or, better, we're still living in a world where we believe history makes sense and our job is to figure out and act on its lessons.

The second lesson we are teaching them is that democratic leaders pander to their electorate. We pride ourselves on being the only democracy in the region. We're a pretty bad role model. No true leader would lead her / his country to war to placate the citizen's complaints. True, Sderot had it bad. But was it invaded? Does anybody believe that Hamas was planning to invade Tel Aviv, or Ashdot or even Sderot?

I know the cry against what I'm saying: They're no better.

But since when does a true leader compare himself to people who are no better?

If we really want peace we must abandon the vocabulary of 'lessons,' 'history' and even 'justice.' The sides never get even. That's right, we must turn the other cheek. Provided that other cheek is strong enough to withstand a slap when it is certain that the slap will not turn into a punch in the near future. Call it 'creative nihilism.' Let both sides become populated with millions of Jesuses and pray for the self control needed to avoid the fate that fell on Jesus from falling on us. Then we'd really have something worth praying for.
-- Zev Shanken,
Teaneck, NJ

Y. Ben-David said...

Yes, Dr Avishai, we are seeing your "Israelis" (as opposed to your "Judeans") in action now. You have divided Israel into 2 sectors, the "primitive, religious, pro-settlement warmongering Right", (otherwise knows as the "sons of darkness", and what you call "The Israelis", who are "enlightened, secular, progressive and peaceloving" (AKA "the sons of light). You said the idea of a "right-wing" coalition ruling Israel after the elections as "grotesque". Well, maybe you won't have to worry, your Israelis can possibly stay in power because they decided a nice war would rally the population and get them re-elected. Our Nobel Peace Prize-winning President, Peres did the same in 1996 when he was running for re-election when he ignited a war in Lebanon, but that backfired and he lost in the end. I'll tell you what is "grotesque", Dr Avishai, that your "peace camp" has brought 2 wars on Israel and the Arabs in 2- 1/2 years, and 3 wars in 9 years. Yes, a real triumph for the "peace camp". Interesting how governments with Peace Now representatives like Yuli Tamir have no problem bombing away in Gaza with the inevitable "collateral damage". Well, anything goes in order for your camp to stay in power, right Dr Avishai. Now the truth is out..you "progressives" don't give a damn about peace, you don't give a damn about Israel's security, and you don't give a damn about the lives of the Arabs whom you claim you care about, unlike us "primitive Judeans". Well , the whole world now sees how much you "progressives" really care about peace and human rights.

Please don't get me wrong, HAMAS has it coming, but it was you people who built them up, gave the opportunity to arm themselves, you even gave them millions of dollars a couple of weeks ago. However, I can only hope that eventually, the people of Israel will see through your hypocrisy and cyncism and realize this war is NOT meant to eradicate the threat against Israel, but merely for your friends to stay in power.

Jad said...

Grapes of Wrath was actually in 2006 - the memory of the first bombs of that war falling near our home in south Lebanon is hard to forget.

Jad said...

sorry - I meant 1996 for grapes of wrath - its just sad there have been so many wars that even those who lived through them are getting them mixed up...

rosslyn said...

BA, you wondered what's the aim of Ops cast lead? i dont know too. no logical and rational explanation can be derived... hmm maybe to get iran to attack israel so there can be retaliation... ?

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