Thursday, December 20, 2012

Israel's Military Doctrine Remains "Massive Damage"

No one should be surprised when Israel is accused of "disproportionality" in its military operations. Though international law may require that defensive wars be "proportional", Israel has never accepted this principle. Starting in the 1950's (see examples here and  here) Israel's military doctrine has been to cause massive damage to the enemy, both to bring a quick end to immediate hostilities, but more importantly to make the enemy think three times before "starting up" again. Already in the 1950's, Ben Gurion was very clear that this is the essence of Israeli strategy when he said,
"We do not have power to ensure that the water pipe lines won't be exploded or ... to prevent the murders of families while they are asleep, but we have the power to set a high price for our blood, a price which would be too high for the Arab communities, the Arab armies and the Arab governments to bear."

An article in the Jerusalem Post shows that nothing has changed in this regard.

... the IAF is sticking to the Ben Gurionesque doctrine of causing massive damage to the enemy and bringing the conflict to an end rapidly. Unfortunately, Ben Gurion's principle of taking the fight to enemy territory can only be partially achieved these days, with the Israeli home front under a heavy rocket threat. 
But short spells of fighting can be achieved, through hitting the other side hard - far harder than the damage Hamas absorbed in November. "The ...[next Lebanese war] will be very different," the source said. "It will be far more intensive." The source warned that the era of 'knockout victories,' in which enemies raise a white flag and surrender, has long passed. In any future conflict, rockets will be fired into Israel until the last day of the conflict. But afterwards, Hezbollah will have to "get up in the morning and explain to their people why they brought destruction to Lebanon," the source said. 
That's what happened to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah in the 2006 Second Lebanon War, which, despite its many shortcomings, caused such damage to southern Lebanon that Nasrallah has still not been able to repair all of it, six and a half years on. In any future clash, the damage will likely be far more extensive.
This, in fact, may be an effective strategy in the short run. Shell shocked Arab populations may indeed insist that their leaders maintain a low military profile re Israel. But it also assure that those populations will only increase their hatred of Israel, and increase - rather than decrease - the long term prospects for conflict, and make it, when it comes, a more bloody conflict at that.

In addition, one also has to ask: What is the essential difference between this strategic doctrine and terrorism? Both aim to force positions on the political/military leadership by terrorizing the civilian population into forcing their leadership to "give up".

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