Did Israel blow it - or are they working under the radar?

J.R. Dunn, who is as well qualified as anybody to judge these things, believes that Israel really blew its opportunity to defeat Hezbollah. He thinks that Prime Minister Olmert, without direct experience of combat himself, interfered with military judgment in just the way LBJ screwed up the US military in Vietnam.

Well, Mr. Dunn may turn out to be right. But we should be cautious. If I were running Israeli policy, I would draw the media into their usual story line ——— since they always repeat the same one anyway. And below the media radar I would be doing a lot of other things they will never know about.

Here are some examples. As Dunn points out, Hamas has suffered some nasty blows in Gaza, since the media has been focusing like a laser beam on Hezbollah and Lebanon. A lot of the Hamas leadership is now in Israeli prisons, and several targeted assassinations have been reported of Islamic Jihad leaders. The result may be to strenghten the Fatah faction of the Palestinians, which is less destructive than Hamas.

Another example: Israel claims to have destroyed or disabled two—thirds of the short—range rockets possessed by Hezbollah. If so, we should see a decrease of the constant bombardment of Israeli cities (though that may be covered up by a cease fire agreement). We do not know whether the long—range, more precise, and really dangerous missiles have been degraded at all. They have not been fired, and so have not exposed their launch points. However, Israel is likely to have special ops teams, UAVs and satellite information about their location.

A third example. We will never hear what special ops have been doing in Lebanon; we will never know the extent to which Walid Jumblatt and the Druze might have been facilitating Israeli targeting against their common enemies. We will never know the extent to which US satellites have been helping to pinpoint Hezbollah targets in the Bekaa Valley, as well as the flow of supplies from Syria and Iran.

A fourth example. For Israel and Hezbollah, this is only one battle in a long war. A lot of battles are not decisive in themselves, but allow the adversaries to position themselves strategically for later actions. Israel's dealings with Yasser Arafat are a case in point. Arafat was slowly isolated and became a symbol of militant impotence rather than power. That was a slow, steady game of chess. Given the well dug—in position of Hezbollah it would make sense for Israel to be playing it longterm, slowly, steadily, and with the longterm goal of making Hezbollah more and more vulnerable.

A fifth example. THEL laser anti—missile systems are just coming into use. They are reported to be quite effective in protecting airports and cities from the missile bombardment Israel is suffering today. It may be a lot smarter to wait for THEL systems to be installed over all the major targets in Israel, and strike Hezbollah and its sponsoring nations when the home front is better protected. This may not be the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning in the fight against Iran and its proxies.

Now you can't prove a negative, and these points are admittedly speculative. It is hard to be patient and wait for better data.  I would just not jump to conclusions at this point. We don't know what we don't know.

James Lewis   7 31 06

J.R. Dunn, who is as well qualified as anybody to judge these things, believes that Israel really blew its opportunity to defeat Hezbollah. He thinks that Prime Minister Olmert, without direct experience of combat himself, interfered with military judgment in just the way LBJ screwed up the US military in Vietnam.

Well, Mr. Dunn may turn out to be right. But we should be cautious. If I were running Israeli policy, I would draw the media into their usual story line ——— since they always repeat the same one anyway. And below the media radar I would be doing a lot of other things they will never know about.

Here are some examples. As Dunn points out, Hamas has suffered some nasty blows in Gaza, since the media has been focusing like a laser beam on Hezbollah and Lebanon. A lot of the Hamas leadership is now in Israeli prisons, and several targeted assassinations have been reported of Islamic Jihad leaders. The result may be to strenghten the Fatah faction of the Palestinians, which is less destructive than Hamas.

Another example: Israel claims to have destroyed or disabled two—thirds of the short—range rockets possessed by Hezbollah. If so, we should see a decrease of the constant bombardment of Israeli cities (though that may be covered up by a cease fire agreement). We do not know whether the long—range, more precise, and really dangerous missiles have been degraded at all. They have not been fired, and so have not exposed their launch points. However, Israel is likely to have special ops teams, UAVs and satellite information about their location.

A third example. We will never hear what special ops have been doing in Lebanon; we will never know the extent to which Walid Jumblatt and the Druze might have been facilitating Israeli targeting against their common enemies. We will never know the extent to which US satellites have been helping to pinpoint Hezbollah targets in the Bekaa Valley, as well as the flow of supplies from Syria and Iran.

A fourth example. For Israel and Hezbollah, this is only one battle in a long war. A lot of battles are not decisive in themselves, but allow the adversaries to position themselves strategically for later actions. Israel's dealings with Yasser Arafat are a case in point. Arafat was slowly isolated and became a symbol of militant impotence rather than power. That was a slow, steady game of chess. Given the well dug—in position of Hezbollah it would make sense for Israel to be playing it longterm, slowly, steadily, and with the longterm goal of making Hezbollah more and more vulnerable.

A fifth example. THEL laser anti—missile systems are just coming into use. They are reported to be quite effective in protecting airports and cities from the missile bombardment Israel is suffering today. It may be a lot smarter to wait for THEL systems to be installed over all the major targets in Israel, and strike Hezbollah and its sponsoring nations when the home front is better protected. This may not be the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning in the fight against Iran and its proxies.

Now you can't prove a negative, and these points are admittedly speculative. It is hard to be patient and wait for better data.  I would just not jump to conclusions at this point. We don't know what we don't know.

James Lewis   7 31 06