Prelude to Apocalypse: an exchange

By

While there is much to agree with in Dan Gordon's article, I do have some comments:

1.   While I accepted the weight of opinion that Hezbollah's provocative first move was at the instance of Iran, I did not accept the view that Iran and Hezbollah anticipated Israel's response.  Iran did not need an all out war to distract attention from its nuclear agenda at the U.N.  Secondly, Israel far more often then not too very limited retaliatory measures in the face of other provocations coming from the Palestinians and hardly any retaliatory efforts were taken at Hezbollah's past provocations.

2.   Nasrallah came out today to say he never would have started up if he knew Israel would have responded as it did.  I think this is the closest Nasrallah has come to speaking the truth, though it appears he is doing so to try to deflect the growing backlash against Hezbollah in Lebanon.  I predicted weeks ago that joyous support for Hezbollah would turn to condemnation once the war was over and Lebanese returned to find what it meant to them personally to have their homes destroyed and the infrastructure they depended on and took for granted in ruins.  My prediction is coming to pass.

It means that while the Lebanese people generally might have  a hate on for Israel because of the devastation it brought Lebanon, more and more Lebanese are coming to see that none of that would have happened but for Hezbollah and their anger against Hezbollah is now mounting.  I expect the MSM will have no choice but to take note of what is going down now in Lebanaon as regards Hezbollah and with that the weakling PM Siniora just might find the courage to start taking charge of Lebanon instead of being a eunuchian figurehead leader that he has been until now.

3.   While I did share Gordon's view that Israel was making some headway, I think Gordon's thinking should do no more than put things in a somewhat better perspective for Israelis.  There have been deep seated divisions within Israel as to whether to hang tough and ultimately find the way to bring peace  about through strength or to give more pieces of Israel away to the Palestinians in the hope that at some point enough of Israel will have been given away that the Palestinian appetite for Israeli land and blood will be satiated.

While it is healthy for a democracy to have a diversity of views, when a whole nation is under attack by an enemy, which in this case is radical Islam, diversity of opinion cannot be so great as to have Israelis pulling in different directions.

Israel really must do some soul searching in order to find what Israel means, what it is to give it that meaning and what it must be in order to survive and thrive in the hostile Middle East.  In spite of Israel being able to claim victory in some respects,  the failures of the government and the IDF command have become quite apparent and Olmert's popularity is plunging like a rock in a pond.  In choosing another leader, all Israelis need to feel vulnerable and all need to want at the very least a powerful Israeli military that is always at the ready to protect them.

Olmert does not appear to be that leader.

4.   Gordon's scenario of Iran becoming nuclear and sneaking a nuclear weapon into northern Mexico is rather a weak springboard to wake the West and America up to the threat Iran poses.

Iran already has the weapon delivery systems available to it to pack a nuclear payload and send it over to Israel.  Iran has the financial resources to purchase nuclear weapons on the black market.  If varied reports are accurate, Iran and Hezbollah already have an infrastructure of sleeper cells in place in America.  Iran also probably has an arsenal of devastating biological and toxin weapons at its disposal that it could more easily smuggle into America and deploy by introducing those poisons into the water supply of major cities or by flying a plane fited with crop dusting equipment over an even lightly  populated area  to spread communicable deadly disease.

There have been well before the Israel—Hezbollah war more reasons than you can shake a stick at for the West and America in particular to abandon the notion that diplomacy is still a viable option with containing Iran's nuclear and power ambitions.  With Russia and China running interference for Iran and standing in the way of U.N. ultimatums with teeth being passed, the courage the EU seemed to gather to unite against Iran at the U.N. quickly evaporated.  America remains desperate  to have allies to stand with it before it takes anything more than sabre rattling action against Iran.

The Bush administration are not fools.  They know diplomacy will not work, yet they persist in it out of fear that should they take the lead alone or at best with a few followers to launch a strike against Iran, they will only compound the problems America has made for itself in Iraq.

Iran cannot be cajoled, bullied, sweet talked  or appeased with gifts into backing down from its ambitions to be a nuclear power and to be the leading voice in the Middle East.

My guess is that for America to strike Iran, a critical mass will have to be reached in America where American fears of the immediate inevitability of Iran harming America surpasses America's fear of the consequences of engaging Iran militarily.

Bill Narvey

Dan Gordon responds:

I much appreciate the very thoughtful reading you gave to the article. With your permission I would like to respond to some of the comments in the order they were given.

1). With regard to Iran and Hezballah not anticipating Israel's response, nor Iran needing an all out war to distract attention from its nuclear agenda, I think the point of the article is being missed. Both Iran and Hezballah I believe wanted this to be their six day war, what they wanted and expected was an Israeli armor charge into Southern Lebanon. That armor charge could and indeed would have been decimated by the amount of anti—tank weapons they had accumulated. That coupled together with their rocket attacks on Israel's cities and villages of the North would, they believed, have forced Israel into an early and humiliating cease—fire which they would then be able to declare as a major victory.

My rabbi and teacher in military affairs was Lieutenant General Raful Eitan, whom I was privileged to know for over forty years, as he was a good friend of my adoptive parents in the Valley of Jesrael. And on many occasions spent Friday nights in my foster families' apartment. Raful had a very simple yard stick for measuring an adversaries intent, it was not necessarily to disregard the adversaries rhetoric but to put it into the concrete context of what weapons the enemy had acquired and how those weapons were deployed. In the case of Hezballah they acquired some 15,000 short, medium and longer range rockets and missiles. None of these weapons are defensive in nature. They project an offensive capability aimed at Israel's civilian population. The second type of weapon which they acquired in massive numbers were anti—tank missiles. All of these weapons were deployed and ready in all of Hezballah's forward positions. I do not believe that is by chance or by mistake. While I agree that they did not expect the type of aerial and artillery bombardment which Israel responded, which they did expect and want was that blind armored charge into their network of strongholds, fortresses and positions from which they could decimate the Israeli forces. That armor charge did not take place until after three weeks of aerial and artillery bombardment and no less importantly three weeks of infantry probes which took out some of their capabilities, but more importantly identified the others.

2). I absolutely agree with your earlier prediction and the analyses of why Nasrallah made his statement, namely to deflect the growing backlash. But I think a closer reading of the statement: "We did not believe, even by one per cent, that the captive operation would result in such a wide—scale war, as such a war did not take place in the history of wars," Nasrallah said, is particularly instructive. He did not miscalculate the response, he miscalculated the size of response and the type. What leads me to believe this in particular, are Hezballah's reactions immediately after Israel responded to the initial kidnapping operation. I toured the site of that operation extensively with the commander of that sector. It was a highly professional military operation which first knocked off Israel's security cameras as a diversion and then used the afore mentioned anti—tank missiles to take out the two hummers on patrol. It was designed however, to suck in a greater response. Those two hummers were part of an armored brigade which sits exactly on that sector. The response was meant to suck that brigade in with others along Lebanon's reinforced border with Israel. When Israel did not respond with an armored charge, but instead by bombing suspected escape routes, and targets of Hezballah's infrastructure, Hezballah responded with a massive barrage of rockets and missiles aimed at Israel's cities and villages all across the North. This was not the usual few katyusha lobbed at Kiryat Shmoneh or Metulah, rather this was the type of attack which Israel could not possibly ignore, and was followed up the next day by scores more of such attacks. Had Nasrallah simply wanted to kidnap Israeli soldiers as a bargaining chip he would have absorbed Israel's first attacks, made no response, and sued for an immediate cease fire through the UN claming crimes against innocent civilians Absent Hezballah's rocket attacks, the pressure on Israel to refrain from any further offensive would have been so great that Israel would have been hard pressed to continue. The rocket attacks were part, I believe, of Hezballah's two pronged strategy for their own six day war like victory by demonstrating that Hezballah could hit anywhere it wanted in the North of Israel and perhaps even Tel—Aviv, and using that demonstration to suck in an armored charge which it could then decimate. What Hezballah miscalculated was the size and scope of Israel's aerial and artillery bombardment and the amount of time Israel would wait before committing itself to even a limited armored incursion, which occurred only in the final 48 hours of the war and after Hezballah's positions had been pounded from the air and identified by infantry on the ground.

3). I certainly agree with everything you say about the decisiveness in Israel's body politic, the soul searching it needs to carry out, and Olmert's ineffectiveness as a leader. My intent however, was not just at Israeli public opinion, but more important of US opinion, where there was I feared a perception that the IDF let America down and that the IDF was no longer the same military organization which could bring about the defeat of its enemies on the field in the Middle East. That misperception, I believe, could cost Israel dearly. And I will do everything possible in so far as I am able, to correct that misperception. And I would certainly welcome anyone who would help me in spreading that word.

4). The scenario of Hezballah terrorists in Northern Mexico is unfortunately not far fetched and is I believe more of a threat than Iran's other delivery systems. You are of course absolutely right when you say Iran has the finances to purchase nuclear weapons and it probably has an arsenal of biological and chemical weapons. However, their demonstrated ability to use even the rockets that they deployed against Israel's North against the second largest city in the United States not to mention its port which is the US's life line to the Pacific, represents a threat not here to fore discussed in the US. This is not a question of how to stop terrorists before they come in to the US, this is not about air port security, or liquid bombs smuggled on air planes, this involves a terrorist threat which does not need to enter the United States and which finds common ground with the drug cartel gangs which in effect rule Northern Mexico. If one wants to ice that particular cake, it is hardly less difficult for similar terror cells to deploy against New York City from Southern Canada. I certainly agree that the American public needs to reach a  certain critical mass of concern before it takes action against Iran to the degree to which this article can add to that awareness it may be of additional benefit.

Once again, please do know how much I appreciate the very thoughtful reading and insightful comments which have stimulated this response.

All the best,

Dan

While there is much to agree with in Dan Gordon's article, I do have some comments:

1.   While I accepted the weight of opinion that Hezbollah's provocative first move was at the instance of Iran, I did not accept the view that Iran and Hezbollah anticipated Israel's response.  Iran did not need an all out war to distract attention from its nuclear agenda at the U.N.  Secondly, Israel far more often then not too very limited retaliatory measures in the face of other provocations coming from the Palestinians and hardly any retaliatory efforts were taken at Hezbollah's past provocations.

2.   Nasrallah came out today to say he never would have started up if he knew Israel would have responded as it did.  I think this is the closest Nasrallah has come to speaking the truth, though it appears he is doing so to try to deflect the growing backlash against Hezbollah in Lebanon.  I predicted weeks ago that joyous support for Hezbollah would turn to condemnation once the war was over and Lebanese returned to find what it meant to them personally to have their homes destroyed and the infrastructure they depended on and took for granted in ruins.  My prediction is coming to pass.

It means that while the Lebanese people generally might have  a hate on for Israel because of the devastation it brought Lebanon, more and more Lebanese are coming to see that none of that would have happened but for Hezbollah and their anger against Hezbollah is now mounting.  I expect the MSM will have no choice but to take note of what is going down now in Lebanaon as regards Hezbollah and with that the weakling PM Siniora just might find the courage to start taking charge of Lebanon instead of being a eunuchian figurehead leader that he has been until now.

3.   While I did share Gordon's view that Israel was making some headway, I think Gordon's thinking should do no more than put things in a somewhat better perspective for Israelis.  There have been deep seated divisions within Israel as to whether to hang tough and ultimately find the way to bring peace  about through strength or to give more pieces of Israel away to the Palestinians in the hope that at some point enough of Israel will have been given away that the Palestinian appetite for Israeli land and blood will be satiated.

While it is healthy for a democracy to have a diversity of views, when a whole nation is under attack by an enemy, which in this case is radical Islam, diversity of opinion cannot be so great as to have Israelis pulling in different directions.

Israel really must do some soul searching in order to find what Israel means, what it is to give it that meaning and what it must be in order to survive and thrive in the hostile Middle East.  In spite of Israel being able to claim victory in some respects,  the failures of the government and the IDF command have become quite apparent and Olmert's popularity is plunging like a rock in a pond.  In choosing another leader, all Israelis need to feel vulnerable and all need to want at the very least a powerful Israeli military that is always at the ready to protect them.

Olmert does not appear to be that leader.

4.   Gordon's scenario of Iran becoming nuclear and sneaking a nuclear weapon into northern Mexico is rather a weak springboard to wake the West and America up to the threat Iran poses.

Iran already has the weapon delivery systems available to it to pack a nuclear payload and send it over to Israel.  Iran has the financial resources to purchase nuclear weapons on the black market.  If varied reports are accurate, Iran and Hezbollah already have an infrastructure of sleeper cells in place in America.  Iran also probably has an arsenal of devastating biological and toxin weapons at its disposal that it could more easily smuggle into America and deploy by introducing those poisons into the water supply of major cities or by flying a plane fited with crop dusting equipment over an even lightly  populated area  to spread communicable deadly disease.

There have been well before the Israel—Hezbollah war more reasons than you can shake a stick at for the West and America in particular to abandon the notion that diplomacy is still a viable option with containing Iran's nuclear and power ambitions.  With Russia and China running interference for Iran and standing in the way of U.N. ultimatums with teeth being passed, the courage the EU seemed to gather to unite against Iran at the U.N. quickly evaporated.  America remains desperate  to have allies to stand with it before it takes anything more than sabre rattling action against Iran.

The Bush administration are not fools.  They know diplomacy will not work, yet they persist in it out of fear that should they take the lead alone or at best with a few followers to launch a strike against Iran, they will only compound the problems America has made for itself in Iraq.

Iran cannot be cajoled, bullied, sweet talked  or appeased with gifts into backing down from its ambitions to be a nuclear power and to be the leading voice in the Middle East.

My guess is that for America to strike Iran, a critical mass will have to be reached in America where American fears of the immediate inevitability of Iran harming America surpasses America's fear of the consequences of engaging Iran militarily.

Bill Narvey

Dan Gordon responds:

I much appreciate the very thoughtful reading you gave to the article. With your permission I would like to respond to some of the comments in the order they were given.

1). With regard to Iran and Hezballah not anticipating Israel's response, nor Iran needing an all out war to distract attention from its nuclear agenda, I think the point of the article is being missed. Both Iran and Hezballah I believe wanted this to be their six day war, what they wanted and expected was an Israeli armor charge into Southern Lebanon. That armor charge could and indeed would have been decimated by the amount of anti—tank weapons they had accumulated. That coupled together with their rocket attacks on Israel's cities and villages of the North would, they believed, have forced Israel into an early and humiliating cease—fire which they would then be able to declare as a major victory.

My rabbi and teacher in military affairs was Lieutenant General Raful Eitan, whom I was privileged to know for over forty years, as he was a good friend of my adoptive parents in the Valley of Jesrael. And on many occasions spent Friday nights in my foster families' apartment. Raful had a very simple yard stick for measuring an adversaries intent, it was not necessarily to disregard the adversaries rhetoric but to put it into the concrete context of what weapons the enemy had acquired and how those weapons were deployed. In the case of Hezballah they acquired some 15,000 short, medium and longer range rockets and missiles. None of these weapons are defensive in nature. They project an offensive capability aimed at Israel's civilian population. The second type of weapon which they acquired in massive numbers were anti—tank missiles. All of these weapons were deployed and ready in all of Hezballah's forward positions. I do not believe that is by chance or by mistake. While I agree that they did not expect the type of aerial and artillery bombardment which Israel responded, which they did expect and want was that blind armored charge into their network of strongholds, fortresses and positions from which they could decimate the Israeli forces. That armor charge did not take place until after three weeks of aerial and artillery bombardment and no less importantly three weeks of infantry probes which took out some of their capabilities, but more importantly identified the others.

2). I absolutely agree with your earlier prediction and the analyses of why Nasrallah made his statement, namely to deflect the growing backlash. But I think a closer reading of the statement: "We did not believe, even by one per cent, that the captive operation would result in such a wide—scale war, as such a war did not take place in the history of wars," Nasrallah said, is particularly instructive. He did not miscalculate the response, he miscalculated the size of response and the type. What leads me to believe this in particular, are Hezballah's reactions immediately after Israel responded to the initial kidnapping operation. I toured the site of that operation extensively with the commander of that sector. It was a highly professional military operation which first knocked off Israel's security cameras as a diversion and then used the afore mentioned anti—tank missiles to take out the two hummers on patrol. It was designed however, to suck in a greater response. Those two hummers were part of an armored brigade which sits exactly on that sector. The response was meant to suck that brigade in with others along Lebanon's reinforced border with Israel. When Israel did not respond with an armored charge, but instead by bombing suspected escape routes, and targets of Hezballah's infrastructure, Hezballah responded with a massive barrage of rockets and missiles aimed at Israel's cities and villages all across the North. This was not the usual few katyusha lobbed at Kiryat Shmoneh or Metulah, rather this was the type of attack which Israel could not possibly ignore, and was followed up the next day by scores more of such attacks. Had Nasrallah simply wanted to kidnap Israeli soldiers as a bargaining chip he would have absorbed Israel's first attacks, made no response, and sued for an immediate cease fire through the UN claming crimes against innocent civilians Absent Hezballah's rocket attacks, the pressure on Israel to refrain from any further offensive would have been so great that Israel would have been hard pressed to continue. The rocket attacks were part, I believe, of Hezballah's two pronged strategy for their own six day war like victory by demonstrating that Hezballah could hit anywhere it wanted in the North of Israel and perhaps even Tel—Aviv, and using that demonstration to suck in an armored charge which it could then decimate. What Hezballah miscalculated was the size and scope of Israel's aerial and artillery bombardment and the amount of time Israel would wait before committing itself to even a limited armored incursion, which occurred only in the final 48 hours of the war and after Hezballah's positions had been pounded from the air and identified by infantry on the ground.

3). I certainly agree with everything you say about the decisiveness in Israel's body politic, the soul searching it needs to carry out, and Olmert's ineffectiveness as a leader. My intent however, was not just at Israeli public opinion, but more important of US opinion, where there was I feared a perception that the IDF let America down and that the IDF was no longer the same military organization which could bring about the defeat of its enemies on the field in the Middle East. That misperception, I believe, could cost Israel dearly. And I will do everything possible in so far as I am able, to correct that misperception. And I would certainly welcome anyone who would help me in spreading that word.

4). The scenario of Hezballah terrorists in Northern Mexico is unfortunately not far fetched and is I believe more of a threat than Iran's other delivery systems. You are of course absolutely right when you say Iran has the finances to purchase nuclear weapons and it probably has an arsenal of biological and chemical weapons. However, their demonstrated ability to use even the rockets that they deployed against Israel's North against the second largest city in the United States not to mention its port which is the US's life line to the Pacific, represents a threat not here to fore discussed in the US. This is not a question of how to stop terrorists before they come in to the US, this is not about air port security, or liquid bombs smuggled on air planes, this involves a terrorist threat which does not need to enter the United States and which finds common ground with the drug cartel gangs which in effect rule Northern Mexico. If one wants to ice that particular cake, it is hardly less difficult for similar terror cells to deploy against New York City from Southern Canada. I certainly agree that the American public needs to reach a  certain critical mass of concern before it takes action against Iran to the degree to which this article can add to that awareness it may be of additional benefit.

Once again, please do know how much I appreciate the very thoughtful reading and insightful comments which have stimulated this response.

All the best,

Dan