Now What?

The killing, for the most part, has stopped. But the nightmare is not over. This catastrophe is about to be induced into Israel’s hall of fame, right next to other prides such as Operation Entebbe and Tal Brody. The collective Israeli memory is going to remember the bloodshed of the last few weeks as a happy period, when we “let the IDF win”. It does not matter how many rockets fall on Sderot from now on, operation “Cast Lead” will always be remembered as a success, a testimony to our elan. Or at least a step in the right direction. The only dispute now is whether we should have continued the killing.

This has been a bitter lesson for me. Since 2006, I have been in dispute with this country regarding the war in Lebanon. I was outraged when it started, both at the government and the gullible public. During those summer weeks there was nobody I knew in Israel who was thinking sensibly and not repeating the hasbara ex-general pundits were feeding everyone over the tube. The entire venture was a failure. A commission was formed, politicians were forced to quit public life, and the army practically purged it’s entire senior command.

I was not expecting Israel to apologize, to knock on my door and say “we were wrong, you were right”. I was pessimistic on one hand, Israel’s military was going to look for the first chance to redeem it’s lost esteem, but optimistic in on the other, the public will not eat this kind of bullshit again. I was hoping that the 2006 experience would cultivate some healthy scepticism that would not allow generals to get away with anything.

I was wrong. The war in 2006 was a failure, and everybody took it upon themselves to make it “work” this time, not just the army and government, but the public too. I naively believed that the disproportionate destruction and civilian death in Lebanon tickled the public, just a bit, but it didn’t. Lebanon turned into an unpopular war because of the shoddy intelligence, the rusting equipment and the hesitant commanders. The national disgrace was not the carnage, but the amateurish way in which it was carried out.

By those standards, this last episode was an outstanding success. The intelligence was good, the raids were potent and demoralized the enemy, the reservists recieved modern and lubricated equipment, and the expectations were low. The dying and suffering civilians in Gaza did not play a role in the metrics of this operation’s success. The disfigured children in overcrowded hospitals were a setback only in the sense that the world was watching, and it was getting awkward. The public here did not blink.

Do you want your children to learn that narritive in history class? It is a mark of Cain, not a victory. We can’t let it go down as one.

Now What?

9 thoughts on “Now What?

  1. Rotem says:

    You fail at basic game theory – turning the other cheek only escalates the response from the aggressor, since he learn his actions are not returned.

    Not using decisive force is also a mistake, since slow escalation turns both sides insensitive to the loss, as it builds over time.

    The correct response in face of aggression is to attack with maximum strength, and leave no one who can build up and retaliate (this is where the Israeli government failed, both in Lebanon and Gaza).

    The correct solution is to press the attack until there is no one left who can strike back, or at the very least, hard enough to create a deterrence that will prevent future attacks, since the potential cost will be too great.

    For that matter, Hamas tries to create the impression that destruction and death are not part of his cost equation, and thus, pretend that any military attack will be ineffective. This is a lie, since the leaders knew well to hide as deep as they could, and left the citizens to pay the price.

    Since Hamas as well as Hizbullah are forward posts for a foreign power, in this case, Iran, they do not depend on popular support to remain in rule, and do not see the interests of the populations the occupy as important. This is why they can claim victory – their real interests – survival and keeping their arms – have not been damaged thoroughly enough.

    As for your concern for the Gazan populace – it is humane, but essentially, without basis. Gaza is a staging ground for military operation against Israel, and as such, does not receive the protection international law usually provides to non-combatants. you may claim that those attacks where not effective enough to justify an attack, but do consider that the suicide bombing is Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem did not, in total, generate more than a thousand dead over the last decade, and by that logic, do not necessitate a response. To make it clear – such logic is fallacious, since ineffective attack is still an attack, and the purpose of those attacks is to erode the feeling of personal security of the citizens, rather than to kill as many as possible.

  2. M. Bolton says:

    Hey Rotem, I fixed your comment for you:

    You fail at basic game theory – turning the other cheek only escalates the response from the aggressor, since he learn his actions are not returned.

    Not using decisive force is also a mistake, since slow escalation turns both sides insensitive to the loss, as it builds over time.

    The correct response in face of aggression is to attack with maximum strength, and leave no one who can build up and retaliate (this is where the German government failed, both in Budapest and Warsaw).

    The correct solution is to press the attack until there is no one left who can strike back, or at the very least, hard enough to create a deterrence that will prevent future attacks, since the potential cost will be too great.

    For that matter, the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB) tries to create the impression that destruction and death are not part of his cost equation, and thus, pretend that any military attack will be ineffective. This is a lie, since the leaders knew well to hide as deep as they could, and left the citizens to pay the price.

    Since ZOB as well as the Betar movement are forward posts for a foreign power, in this case, Russia, they do not depend on popular support to remain in rule, and do not see the interests of the populations the occupy as important. This is why they can claim victory – their real interests – survival and keeping their arms – have not been damaged thoroughly enough.

    As for your concern for the Warsaw populace – it is humane, but essentially, without basis. Warsaw is a staging ground for military operation against Germany, and as such, does not receive the protection international law usually provides to non-combatants. you may claim that those attacks where not effective enough to justify an attack, but do consider that the attacks on Germans is Berlin and Hamburg did not, in total, generate more than a thousand dead over the last decade, and by that logic, do not necessitate a response. To make it clear – such logic is fallacious, since ineffective attack is still an attack, and the purpose of those attacks is to erode the feeling of personal security of the citizens, rather than to kill as many as possible.

  3. rotem says:

    @m. bolton
    Excellent response. Well thought, fact based, clear equivalence.

    Do your homework, check your facts, compare the historical background, and than come back. Until than, I consider you both stupid and lazy.

  4. Eitan says:

    Rotem,
    I could tolerate your Fascist views. But calling someone stupid is over the line. Please remain polite, no name calling.

    Thanks.

  5. rotem says:

    Ok, than, I take back the “stupid” keep the lazy, and add ignorant-by-choice.

    P.S.
    Fascist is a well define term, seeing an act as a strategically correct or not is irrelevant to the term. Consider this: if creating a strong enough deterrent will prevent Hamas or other aggressive entity from attacking, it will save more lives on both side than otherwise.

    P.S. #2
    I can consider you calling me a fascist a stronger insult than me calling M.B “stupid”, since stupidity is often by birth, and since there’s nothing that can be done about it, he’s less at fault. OTOH, Fascism is a choice, and as such, a much worse responsibility.

  6. Eitan says:

    Rotem,
    I have access to Wikipedia too, I know what fascist means.
    I did not call you a fascist, I labeled your views fascist.

  7. rotem says:

    Labeling my views as Fascist is factually incorrect.
    We may agree to disagree on strategy, and stop arguing about terminology 🙂

    Good night!

  8. Dearest Rotem,

    Gaza is not a “staging ground for attacks” any more than Tel Aviv – where the IDF has its headquarters right in the middle of downtown. We also both probably know that Israel’s nuclear bombs are stashed away on the outskirts of civilian villages and towns. (shhh!)

    Just like Israel, Gaza is a small densely populated region, where most people try to make a living somehow, and where politics are dominated by bone-headed militants who think they are saving the world by acting out their childish aggressions. The dominance of these militants still does not grant their rivals across the border the right to murder the ordinary people. It would be wrong to carpet-bomb downtown Tel Aviv, even if in the process the funny tower with the bird’s name which I forgot right now is destroyed – and that tower is definitely a legitimate military target.

    This is not rocket science. It is what decent people around the world try to teach their kids. But in your current world-view, common decency is apparently for wimps. Which makes your world-view exactly what Eitan calls it.

    Back to the comparisons: unlike Israel, Gaza is being controlled and dominated by a foreign nation too self-obsessed with being a Drama Queen to notice that it is doing so. This might have been funny, if that Drama Queen of a nation wasn’t inadvertently(?) robbing Gazans – and West Bank people – of a life for 41+ years now.

    Therefore, unlike Israel, in Gaza at least there is a good reason why bone-headed militants would be so popular.

    See, there’s no need to enter Big Boogey-Man Iran in order to understand what’s going on (have you heard of Occam’s Razor?)
    Hamas and Hizbullah are not Iran puppets any more than Israel is a US puppet (actually, according to our dear Prime Minister it is the US that is an Israeli puppet). Hamas existed before the idiot Ahmednidjad was elected (2005), and Hamas or something worse will be strong in Gaza – as long as there are Palestinians in Gaza, and as long as we insist on robbing them of their lives.

    Good morning. I hope you smell the coffee sometime. If not, surely your children or grandchildren will – and they will not be proud. That’s another thing to factor into your game-theory considerations.

    Assaf

    (by the way: Nash Equilibrium sucks)

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