Sunday, December 28, 2008

israel's incompetence dodge

i had thought that israel had learned something from the 2006 lebanon war. but apparently not. the problem with the 2006 conflict was not a lack of planning, it was an attempt to use military force to achieve something that military force cannot achieve.

you can't get people to stop firing missiles at you by bombing them. missiles are portable and it's very hard to figure out which individuals are firing them. that's why these kind of missiles are so popular. because you can't be sure to target the actual shooter, any retaliatory attack will hit someone other than the person who fired the missile. the killing of innocents then increases the support for more missile attacks in retaliation for those deaths. in the end, more missiles get fired and the group blamed for the missile strikes get more support, not less, from the beleaguered and bombed public. it's a predictable pattern, one that played out in 2006, and one that is playing out right now.

prevailing wisdom in israel was that the 2006 offensive was a serious blunder. but it looks like olmert didn't learn why it was a blunder. the lesson of lebanon should be about the limitations of what the military can achieve. it's not about tinkering with tactical details to make a bad strategy work. i'm afraid that the hyper-militarism that runs through israeli society, coupled with the near-mythological esteem that the israeli public holds for the country's past military successes, make it impossible for them to draw the right conclusions from their own disasters.