Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Losing wars because of over-concern for casualties
1. Ted Sternberg kindly translated this very important piece that
appeared as a guest Op-Ed in Haaretz:
Over-sensitivity to battlefield casualties
The IDF's concern over battlefield casualties reflects misguided
thinking and stands in opposition to public opinion
by Efraim Inbar
One of the misguided strategic concepts, displayed by Israel's
military and political leadership during the second Lebanon war was an
exaggerated concern over battlefield casualties. Even the IDF's chief
of manpower, Major General Elazar Stern, has complained that the IDF
showed "excessive sensitivity" to its own casualties, and revealed
that one battle against Hizbollah ended up suspended on account of the
loss of a certain number of soldiers.
Nonetheless, faced with the threat coming from Hizbollah, there was
enthusiastic public support for offensive operations -- even when
losses were be inevitable. Most Israelis wanted a clear-cut victory
and were prepared to pay a high price for it.
The reluctance to use ground forces constitutes evidence of a large
gap between the thinking of Israel's leadership, and that of its
people. Israel's political and military leadership believes, and
incorrectly, that the public is weary of the protracted conflict and
is no longer willing to pay its price. Ehud Olmert has expressed this
sentiment in the past and in so doing reflected an identical feeling
on the part of the rest of the leadership. The Oslo process'
decision-makers, especially Itzhak Rabin, were also motivated by these
mistaken assessments as to the fighting spirit of the Israeli public.
This current of thought, widespread among Israel's political
leadership since the 90s, has influenced the military leadership and
in so doing has made casualty-prevension the IDF's essential
operational characteristic. Some in the academic community argue that
Israel, like other western democratic regimes, is unable to conduct
wars on account of a reluctance to take casualties. However, this
assumption about the "post-heroic" western way of war is not grounded
Numerous studies show that a recoiling from battlefield casualties is
not a decisive trait among the American public. Moreover, the
American political leadership is able to draw on a great reservoir of
support for costly military operations, so long as those operations
are likely to be successful. What the public recoils from is defeat,
and not battlefield casualties.
From a strategic standpoint, Israel's reluctance to use ground forces
is damaging as a signal of weakness. The widespread perception,
within the Arab world, that Israeli society is sensitive, and to an
extreme, to human loss, only invites aggression. That perception, in
essence, is what moved the Palestinians to launch a war of terror
against Israel in September 2000. And it is that perception, too,
that underlay Hassan Nasralla's theory that the IDF was a "spiderweb"
easily ripped apart.
The army's concern over battlefield casualties, and the Israeli
leadership's hesitations over the matter of conducting large-scale
operations also constitute a breach of the basic social contract on
which the State of Israel was founded. Under that social contract,
the citizens concede some of their freedoms, and they are prepared to
bear the burden, in exchange for the State's taking on the obligation
to provide them with security. The state is a social institution that
exercises a monopoly on the use of force, and as such the state's
raison d'etre is to provide security. The Zionist rationale was based
on the aspiration to put an end to the Diaspora Jews' helplessness and
to set up a state whose principal duty would be to protect its Jewish
citizens -- through force if necessary.
Absolute and all-enveloping defense is not, to be sure, a realistic
objective, but it seems that the Jewish State now finds it difficult
to fulfill even its most basic function at even a minimal level. Four
thousand Katyushas last summer, and an unending rain of Kassams over
the northern Negev, raise the question of why the Israeli people
should keep paying taxes to maintain a strong army, if the state is
reluctant to use it to defend the citizenry?
The author is Professor of Political Science at Bar Ilan University and
director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.
2. The anti-Semitic ultra-moonbat Mark Levine (he writes it LeVine) at the
University of California at Irvine has identified who was REALLY behind
the assassination of Pierre Gemayel, the anti-Syria politician in Lebanon
murdered by Syria. "Professor" Levine says it is Israel. See
A shame the Lebanese think it was Syria:
3. Let's bomb Iran:
4. From the Wall St Journal:
November 28, 2006
November 28, 2006; Page A14
Venezuelan strongman Hugo Ch.vez is an ally of the Iranian mullahs, a
supporter of North Korea, a close friend of Fidel Castro and a good
customer for Vladimir Putin's weapon factories. Now he's also a business
partner of Joseph P. Kennedy II.
The former Democratic Congressman describes the deal he's cooked up with
Mr. Ch.vez as charity for low-income consumers of heating oil. But it's
worth asking what the price of this largesse is to Venezuelans and to U.S.
The arrangement is this: Mr. Ch.vez's Citgo -- a Houston-based oil company
owned by the Venezuelan government -- is supplying home heating oil to Mr.
Kennedy's Citizens Energy Corporation at a 40% discount. Citizens, a
nonprofit outfit, says it passes the savings onto the poor, aiming to help
400,000 homes in 16 states that would otherwise have trouble heating their
homes. In the process, Mr. Kennedy happens to get a high-profile publicity
plug. If you think you qualify, says the television ad that drew our
attention to this partnership, just dial 1-877-Joe-4-Oil.
Generous Joe is not the only one polishing his public image here. In the
mold of the Castro strategy of sending armies of "doctors" and "teachers"
among the Latin American poor, Mr. Ch.vez is trying to shape U.S. public
opinion in the hope that more gringos will come to see the Ch.vez
government as benevolent.
Massachusetts Democrats seem especially eager to help. In a September 29,
2005, "confidential memorandum" addressed to "President Hugo Ch.vez" and
uncovered by a Congressional committee, William Delahunt (D., Mass.)
gushed that it was a "pleasure" to have met with the strongman "to discuss
your generous offer." The Democrat advised Mr. Ch.vez to steer his oil
through Mr. Kennedy's nonprofit and declared that "from a public relations
perspective" the discount oil scheme "is an extraordinary opportunity to
address urgent needs of people living in poverty, while showcasing the
compassion of your nation."
Compassion? If fighting poverty is the goal, Mr. Delahunt would do better
to remind Mr. Ch.vez that charity begins at home. The U.S. is far richer
than Venezuela and since Hurricane Hugo took power in 1999 Venezuelan
living standards have suffered despite soaring oil prices. Annual
inflation averaged more than 20% between 2001 and 2005, imposing a tax on
the poorest. Meanwhile, an insecure investment climate has taken a harsh
toll on private-sector employment and shrunk the middle class.
In his eight years in power, Mr. Kennedy's business partner has also
polarized Venezuela with his class warfare, rewritten the constitution,
politicized the judiciary, the electoral council and military, and
announced he plans to rule until 2021. Freedom House now ranks Venezuela
34th out of 35 countries in the Western Hemisphere in press freedom. Only
the Cuban press is more repressed.
Transparency International puts Venezuela second to last in the Hemisphere
in its 2006 "corruption perception index." And then there was that
revealing rant against President Bush ("the devil") at the United Nations
in September. Even Mr. Delahunt criticized his Venezuelan buddy after that
But Mr. Kennedy keeps on trucking. Last week in a telephone interview with
the Washington Post, he defended his Ch.vez subsidy deal as "morally
righteous," arguing that the Citgo contribution to his nonprofit is only
"one-half of one percent" of Citgo oil and product sales in the U.S.
We dialed Joe-4-Oil ourselves to ask directly whether it is also
"righteous" to assist an anti-American tyrant at the expense of the
Venezuelan people. In between berating our reporter for daring to ask such
a thing, Mr. Kennedy said that Mr. Ch.vez has done "so much more" for the
poor than any previous government. As for democracy, he said there was
"ample room for improvement in the ways that people get elected in
Venezuela as well as in Florida." Mr. Ch.vez chose his partner well.
URL for this article:
5. Time to start killing the terrorists
6. Israel's leading serial rapist escaped from prison by simply walking
away. But before he left, he had posted a registered letter complaining
about the phone monopoly. It seem sthat only Bezeq is allowed to run
phones inside prisons and Benny Sela thinks there should be competition.
Pretty sad when a serial rapist understands economics better than the
7. Ehud Olmert has proposed a new strategic plan for dealing with the
Kassam blitz of the Negev and the Hamasification of Gaza and Judea and
He is proposing new retreats and capitulations by Israel.
After all, the ones so far have worked so well!
8. No percentage in it for me, but I really like singer Avraham Fried:
9. Headline in Haaretz (Hebrew)
"Byzantine Arch discovered in the rubble of a grand synagogue that was
And just who blew up the synagogue in question? The synagogue is the
"Horva" synagogue, which included the Nachmanides amongs its members. It
sits in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem and it
was blown up by the Jordanians in 1948. You would have to search the fine
print though to learn that in the Haaretz piece.
Of course, for Haaretz, the Jordanian bombing of the synagogue represents
a peace plan that should also be applied in the West Bank and has already
been applied in the Gaza Strip.