Photo: Reuters
Back from Lebanon
Photo: Reuters

Why Israel won’t win

Sorry to break the news, Israel. We have failed to recognize the nature of this battle, and we have failed to respond appropriately

The current situation in Israel poses severe challenges to almost every domestic industry except one: the printers. The national banks and newspapers are falling over one another in a race to turn out the most “We Will Win” bumper stickers, billboards and bus-stop ads. How nice that would be. But we will not win. Sorry to break the news, Israel.


We will not win because we have failed to recognize the nature of this battle, and we have failed to respond appropriately. The government has stated that the purpose of the current engagement with Lebanon is to “separate Hizbullah from its weapons,” or, in other words, disarmament.


Disarming Hizbullah is a military goal, probably formulated by Israeli generals and meekly accepted by an inexperienced government that would rather err on the side of security. And, characteristic of a military goal, it is short-sighted.


We can't isolate southern Lebanon forever


The rockets that Hizbullah is currently firing are made in Syria and Iran. Even if we succeed in destroying Hizbullah’s entire arsenal, at which point we will stop fighting, it will only be a matter of time before Syria and Iran supply them with thousands more rockets.


We cannot isolate southern Lebanon forever unless we reoccupy, so once the guns fall silent, we will probably have to stand by as Iran and Syria step in to refuel. The katyusha supply chain is long, and destroying those rockets located in Lebanon does not address the thousands waiting for delivery.


A wider strategy would have involved refraining from bombing Lebanese civilian infrastructure and concentrating on garnering support for sanctions against Iran and Syria. Instead we decided to liquidate our international support along with hundreds of Lebanese civilians.


In a strategic moment, with evidence of Iranian and Syrian involvement plain to see, we have taken the spot light off of Syria and Iran and turned it on ourselves. Congratulations Asad and Ahmadinejad.


Years of occupation didn't destroy Hizbullah


The government has failed and continues to fail to take our wider interests into consideration, and sending massive ground forces into Lebanon will not help. Eighteen years of occupation did not destroy Hizbullah; a few incursions will barely make a dent. They will only result in a lot of dead and injured soldiers.


There are several offers on the table for an immediate ceasefire. Israel should take one of them and start mobilizing against Syria and Iran, but she probably will not. It will take the deaths of tens of soldiers before the government is pressured by a frustrated international community to sign an inconclusive ceasefire. In the meantime, thousands of bumper stickers continue to roll off the press. At least someone’s winning in this mess.


David Kellen is a member of the Strategic Analysis Team at the Israel-Palestine Center for Research and Information. He also researches peacekeeping operations at the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem


פרסום ראשון: 08.02.06, 14:17
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