My Cardboard Box

Preparing for the Seventh Day

with one comment

Former CIA officer Robert Baer writes:

At this point Israel has to be wondering if Hamas is planning a real war, something along the lines of the 34-day war in 2006 between Israel and Hizballah. A Hamas official didn’t put that suspicion to rest when he said that next time Hamas might knock a hole in the fence that separates Gaza from Israel… Count on it, Israel will do something to change the status quo in Gaza. One option is to build a bigger and higher wall around the country… Walls aside, what Israel sorely misses is the capacity to strike fear into its neighbors, deterrence. The Winograd Commission spelled it out in bleak terms in its report on Israel’s failures during the 34-day war. “Israel cannot survive,” the official statement said, unless it is able to deter its enemies — teach Hamas and Hizballah a lesson they won’t forget.

Is Hamas preparing for a “real war”?  It already is a ‘real war’.  The question is whether the Israelis have learned, as they learned from the Yom Kippur War.

While doing some research, I dug up a U.S. Army General Staff College paper.  The paper, though covering the US Army of the late 1990s, includes the history of Israel’s military and that of its Arab opponents from 1967 until the 1973 war.  Quoted in this is an excerpt from Chaim Herzog’s The War of Atonement:

chaim-herzog1.jpgThe origins of the Yom Kippur War can be found to a very considerable degree in the Six Day War, which had a profound effect on both sides to the conflict. changing in no small measure Israel’s social and political life and dictating basic changes in its strategic and doctrinal thinking. It acted as a catalyst in the Arab world and gave rise to a complex reevaluation of the military posture of the Egyptian, who drew conclusions from every aspect of their defeat and set about putting their house in order with active Soviet support. The Israelis on the other hand… consecrating mentally the military concepts that had emerged from the six days of war, they prepared for war as if it were the seventh day (Herzog 1975, 2)

The Yom Kippur War knocked Israel back on its heels; were it not for the IDF’s superior small-unit tactics, they very well could have lost.  As it was, it gave the Arabs a measure of confidence; disproving Israeli invincibility.

Change ‘Yom Kippur’ to ’34 Day’, ‘Egyptians’ to ‘Hesb’allah’ and ‘Soviet’ to ‘Iranian’, and the 34-day war takes on a different, repetitive, aspect.  Change ‘Egyptians’ to ‘Palestinians’ and the future-picture gets gloomy once more.

Hamas and Heb’allah are fighting a ‘real’ war against Israel now.  Sometimes wars are not fought to win territory or a to achieve an immediate, complete victory. Sometimes they don’t require maneuvering forces, merely methods to fatigue the enemy or reduce support for them (think Iraq post-Gulf War, or the intifada).  Sometimes they’re fought to cause the enemy to ‘lose face’ or to inspire support for one’s own side (the intifada again, or Al Qaeda, or the Pakistani jihad, or the 34-day war). With Israel, it’s all of that.

It requires a lot of vigilance, soul-searching, humility, and fortitude to combat such a strategy. It means examining one’s tactics and war-conduct; discovering what went wrong and fixing it ruthlessly and dispassionately. It means reassessing the enemy; not making him a Superman, but even more so, underestimating him.

It’s a lot of hard, thankless work. But, as we’re seeing with the current government, the penalty is a lot harder to deal with.

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Written by PappyBro

February 7, 2008 at 19:59

Posted in WoT

One Response

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  1. When this war goes hot, I fear Israel will find itself harder pressed than before, maybe fatally. Both of Iran’s clients have longer range rockets and more sophisticated communications capabilities. I’m guessing that when things go hot Iran will allow or manufacture a crisis in the Persian Gulf (or perhaps an attack within the US) to split our attention which the H’s press hard on Israel.

    If Israel is not prepared to counterstrike quickly and with overwhelming force, things will not go well.

    lotp

    February 9, 2008 at 10:00


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