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Aug 15, 2006

treppenwitz: A painful 'I told you so'... and an overdue 'what's next'

No mother in the world warns her children about running with scissors in hopes that they will actually trip and "put an eye out".  And any parent would be horrified if their child sank like a stone in the swimming pool for not having waited the requisite 30 minutes after eating.  Nobody actually wants a kid's face to remain frozen forever in a cross-eyed grimace for the crime of annoying his/her sibling... and I can't imagine anyone taking pleasure in having their child go blind for the transgression of er, ... watching TV in the dark (where did you think I was going?).

Likewise, I take absolutely no joy in reminding readers of the following quote from my July 16th journal entry entitled 'A difficult Lesson'... a post I wrote in the opening days of the war in Lebanon:

"... every well-intentioned power that has ever stepped in and negotiated a ceasefire for an Arab aggressor has helped create the monsters we see around us today.

President Lahoud of Lebanon, a big Hezbollah supporter and a close ally of Syria, has been shrieking non-stop to the UN Security Council for the past two days to get them to force Israel into a cease fire.

Clearly he has been reading his autographed copy of 'Military Success for Dummies Arab Despots' by the late Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt.  Ever since Nasser accidentally discovered the trick in '56, every subsequent Arab leader has stuck to his tried and true formula for military success:

  • Instigate a war.
  • Once the war is well underway and you are in the process of having your ass handed to you... get a few world powers to force your western opponent into a cease fire. 
  • Whatever you do, don't surrender or submit to any terms dictated by your enemy.  That would ruin everything!  All you have to do is wait it out and eventually the world will become sickened at what is being done to your soldiers and civilian population... and will force a truce.
  • Once a truce has been called you can resume your intransigence (which probably caused the conflict in the first place), and even declare victory as your opponent leaves the field of battle.

This tactic has never failed.  Not once."

And yet here we are less than a month later, staring at the business end of a pre-mature cease fire that leaves...

... Lebanon un-chastised for its complicity in allowing Hezbollah to remain armed.

...  Syria continuing (even as I write this) to truck arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

... Iran sharing the victory parade with its proxy army, Hezbollah.

... Hezbollah with absolutely no restrictions or obligations.

... and Israel's hands tied neatly behind its back.

From the moment Hezbollah fired the opening salvo of the war, kidnapping two IDF soldiers and killing eight other, the clock started ticking against Israel. 

That Israel would respond to this act of war was both just and inevitable.  No country can allow its borders to be crossed by combatants and its citizens killed and kidnapped.  But everyone seemed genuinely surprised that the world would automatically assume the right to define the scope and duration of our response... even though this has happened nearly every time Israel has been attacked. 

It makes me want to bang my head against a wall because not one world leader will admit that demanding Israel exercise its legal right to respond to armed attacks while the equivalent of a 24 second shot clock ticks away overhead is absolutely guaranteed to hand victory to Israel's enemies.

I said it before and I'll say it again:  Complete and utter defeat is the only thing that has ever forced an armed antagonist to lay down his weapons and accept terms of surrender.  Anything less simply offers a break in the battle for everyone to re-arm.

Likewise, no mugger in the history of larceny has ever been convinced to accept only your watch and half the money in your wallet.  Terrorist organizations are muggers writ large, and negotiating with the likes of Hamas, Hezbollah, AL Aksa, Al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, et al simply gives them proof that you are a willing victim and are prepared to hand over far more loot than you already have.

Add to this fiasco the fact that Israel's leaders were completely complicit in allowing the world to tie our hands, and it makes me want to weep!

At the outset of the war PM Olmert addressed his citizens and promised us that Israel would not leave the battlefield without our two kidnapped soldiers in hand (he had already conveniently forgotten Cpl. Gilad Sharit in Gaza).  This was the Raison D'être of the war, he said, and we would punish the enemy until they returned our citizens.

Now here we are with hundreds of Israeli soldiers and civilians killed and injured... entire cities in the north reduced to rubble... Hezbollah still intact and signing for new shipments of arms from Syria and Iran... The toothless U.N. forces (with a French General at its helm, no less) stating before they even show up that they are not empowered to engage Hezbollah... the Lebanese army stating unequivocally that if it deploys in the south (something that has been shelved indefinitely for now) it cannot, and will not, disarm Hezbollah... and our two/three kidnapped soldiers are still in enemy hands! 

This is what Ehud Olmert calls a good result.

I take absolutely no pleasure in saying 'I told you so' about how this war ultimately played out.  I am sickened at the pointless loss of life.  Every precious lost or shattered life could have been justified (IMHO) if we had at least realized our stated goals of securing our northern border, defeating Hezbollah and getting our soldiers back.  But we accomplished none of those things and accepted a shameful U.N. resolution that could have been ours on July 14th if we'd asked for it! 

No, the only pleasure I'll take at this point (and I demand this pleasure) is watching Ehud Olmert, Amir Peretz, Tzippi Livni, Dan Halutz, Shaul Mofaz and anyone else directly responsible for this debacle, to be dismissed from their positions and led away in handcuffs to answer for their crimes against the Israeli people.  I want to see these people paraded before the grieving families of Israel's dead in a well orchestrated perp walk.  I want them to stare into the faces of the people they willfully deceived.

Inexperience is no excuse... nor is ignorance.  These grasping, greedy leaders lied to their countrymen about their qualifications to lead, and willfully ignored the barbarians at the gates.  They wasted precious years plotting how to marginalize and punish a loyal segment of their own population while ignoring obvious warnings of a real external threat. 

Now we are faced with a brief cessation in the battle.  It will take Hezbollah a matter of weeks to return to its former state of readiness, and the Palestinians (who nearly unanimously supported Hezbollah) have used the world's (and Israel's) inattention to bolster their own capabilities.

I suggest we use this brief window to clean house of these criminal leaders and demand that our military begin planning in earnest for the coming battle.  Here are a few suggestions:

Scrap those expensive, cumbersome Merkava tanks and reassign every last tankist to artillery and missile battalions.  Our enemies have had an eternity to map every feature of our border terrain and to identify the routes by which Israeli tanks will have to advance from Israeli soil.  These routes are hopelessly compromised and have proven themselves to be death traps filled with countless ambush sites and buried explosives. Enough of our people were incinerated in the ovens of Europe.  Let's not allow any more of our young men to be burned alive in obsolete/discredited tank warfare.  In the off chance that some future enemy attacks us with tanks... we can buy warehouses full of anti-tank missiles for the cost of a single Merkava.

Create an effective amphibious landing capability.  The Givati Brigade was founded as an amphibious invasion force but was quickly relegated to redundant dry-boot duty by an unimaginative general staff.  We must re-instruct Givati in the necessary art of amphibious assault again for the simple reason that Israel's borders are small... but our enemies' coastlines are huge.  Practice inserting forces on enemy beaches using landing craft, rubber boats and helicopters.  Let our enemy know that their larger geographic size is now a fatal liability.

Create imaginative contingency plans that allow our fighting forces to be inserted where they are least expected.  Massing our troops on the northern border and sending them marching north in a frontal assault against a well-entrenched enemy was madness!  Our men should have been carried by helicopter to the Litani and been allowed to sweep south towards the unprepared rear and flanks of Hezbollah. 

Let our paratroopers be paratroopers.  These red-booted forces should have been scattered in  areas all along the Lebanese/Syrian border and inserted in the outskirts of Beirut.  they should have been allowed to bleed Hezbollah's supply lines dry and attack it's command and control structure.  Asymmetry serves our enemy well.  It's time we used asymmetrical warfare for our own purposes.

Once diplomacy fails, keep the diplomats the hell out of the way.  This war proves more than any previous conflict that no foreign diplomat has ever had Israel's best interest at heart.  Diplomats can speak for and to civilians, but have no role whatsoever once hostilities begin... except to relay someone's interest in accepting terms of surrender.  Israel made a huge blunder by not making our last diplomatic communication an order for all civilians in Southern Lebanon (below the Litani river) to evacuate within 48 hours.  The human shield argument doesn't hold water here.  These people watched for six long years as Hezbollah build bunkers under their houses and apartment buildings and placed rocket launchers in their back yards.  They can't suddenly claim to be hostages.  The time to protest to the U.N. or flee was then... not after the start of hostilities.  Once the 48 hours was over Israel should have used Fuel-Air explosives to incinerate and asphyxiate every living organism remaining on or under the battlefield.  Yes, these weapons are against the Geneva Convention (except to detonate mine fields), but Hezbollah is not a regular army, does not abide by any existing conventions... and is therefore not entitled to their protection.

Tactical Nuclear Weapons.  As chilling as these three words may be, Israel can no longer rely solely on the implied threat of a a colossal nuclear second strike if the country's continued existence is called into question.  With Iran months (or even weeks) away from having the bomb, and even Israel's most primitively equipped enemies having bunkers that can withstand the most powerful conventional weapons, Israel must drop its intentional ambiguity about what it does and doesn't have and show the world proof that it has small nuclear devices capable of reaching anyone, anywhere.  Only the certainty that a limited nuclear response will meet anyone who attacks Israel will ensure her future safety.  The US has a doctrine of 'Nuclear = Biological = Chemical'.  Simply put, this means that any of these three types of threats will be treated interchangeably and will require a like response.  Since the US maintains that it does not have chemical or biological weapons, that means any NBC threat will guarantee a nuclear response.  Israel has been publicly threatened dozens of times since 1991 with chemical, biological and nuclear attack.  In my opinion each and every one of these threats should have elicited an immediate tactical nuclear response.  We can't afford to wait and see if the little boy is crying wolf.  By then it will have been too late.

Last but not least, the enemy who lives in our midst must be dealt with once and for all.  The Palestinians elected Hamas for the simple reason that Hamas promised (and continues to promise) that they will destroy the State of Israel.  They are therefore at war with us and must be militarily defeated.  No more negotiating.  No more duplicity.  No more diplomatic theatrics.  You want us dead.  Fine... just understand that you are going to be destroyed for your efforts.  What about the apolitical, moderate Palestinians who don't want to fight Israel, you ask?  They had better get political in a hurry and form an outspoken, grassroots groundswell to evict the Palestinian leadership calling for Israel's destruction.  This laughable rumor of a silent majority of moderate Palestinians must not be allowed to continue unchallenged and unproved.  Every wartime poll showed that the Palestinian population overwhelmingly supported Hezbollah and its goals throughout this past month and continue to celebrate Hezbollah's victory.  They now have the idea that their victory is next.  Only a war will prove them wrong. Either way, Israel can't tolerate even one more Qassam to be fired into Israel.  Not one more!

I'm exhausted thinking about the magnitude of our leadership's failure to protect us.  The time has come for the next generation of Israeli leaders to get to work.

Posted by David Bogner on August 15, 2006 | Permalink

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Posted: Aug 15, 2006 5:34am


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