Israel’s plan..?

Isaac Ben-Israel, former Head of Research & Development Department, Ministry of Defense, on Israel’s anti-terrorism strategy:

In general, the underlying idea is: each system has its own critical point. If I know where it is, I hit this point and destroy the whole system. If I do not know this, I will have to go on hitting different components of the system until I accidentally hit the critical point. The more components I damage, even without hitting the critical point, the closer is the moment when the system disintegrates.

My grandfather, who worked for army intelligence in the Irish army under Michael Collins, used to say the same thing about the ‘critical point’. Targeting that point is essential. Hitting key points of British intelligence was an important factor in getting the British (whose military forces were unquestionably stronger) to negotiate with the Irish.

But, even when faced with annihilation by much stronger forces, Collins’ army took the time to find that critical point, and they didn’t waste time with the much less effective plan B, “hitting different components of the system until I accidentally hit the critical point.”

I have to wonder – why would Israel consistently use the less effective plan B instead of gathering the intelligence necessary to (more efficiently) hit the key point? Their intelligence-gathering abilities and their military forces are much better than any of their enemies’, including (of course) Hamas.

What’s the rush?

[Link thanks to Winds of Change]

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About marypmadigan

Writer/photographer (profession), foreign policy wonk (hobby).
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4 Responses to Israel’s plan..?

  1. Infidel753 says:

    One obvious answer, in the case of Hamas, is that the rocket bombardment of southern Israel has become intolerable; “the rush” is to stop this bombardment or reduce it to the lowest achievable level, even if this means striking before the intelligence necessary to achieve the immediate collapse of Hamas is available.

    The larger issue is that everyone knows where that “critical point” really is: in Tehran. Hamas, Hizbullah, and Syria are merely tentacles, with the head of the octopus being the regime of the mullahs.

    A killing blow against that regime, however, would require massive airstrikes and thus extensive preparation.

    In the meantime, cutting the particular tentacle that’s around your throat at the moment is still worth something.

  2. Mary says:

    One obvious answer, in the case of Hamas, is that the rocket bombardment of southern Israel has become intolerable; “the rush” is to stop this bombardment or reduce it to the lowest achievable level, even if this means striking before the intelligence necessary to achieve the immediate collapse of Hamas is available.

    The rocket attacks are horrific. I was in Sderot, and I saw the huge collection of rusted Kassams, and I saw the damage done to buildings and malls. But these attacks were not a much of a threat to Israel’s survival as another large-scale military bombing campaign. We know from experience that these large scale military campaigns are public relations disasters. We also know that Hamas will stage a ‘massacre’, like Jenin and Qana. We know that if there are no dead women or children, pallywood will create them. We know that this empowers terrorists and gets them extra money and ideological support from Arabs and Europeans. Knowing all of this, why didn’t Israel first assassinate (shoot) the Hamas leaders who were walking around the streets of Damascus, talking to reporters? That would have beheaded the monster and it would have brought the confusion that was necessary to cripple the organization.

    We already know the enemy’s weakest spot, and it’s not just in Tehran, it’s also in Damascus and its in Riyadh. The enemy’s weakest spot is the bankers and politicians who support militias like Hamas. These mob-style governments don’t understand diplomacy, they understand extortion, influence and brutal pursuasion. To fight terrorism, we need to show the terrorists and their supporters that we can reach out and destroy them at any time, and destroy all they hold dear. Assad isn’t afraid of Israeli bombs, but he would be afraid of a government that showed him how vulnerable he is. We should stop thinking WWII and start thinking Godfather. Assad’s favorite horse’s head at the foot of his bed would probably intimidate him more than tons of bombs falling on Gaza.

    And Iran isn’t the only problem. Iran and Saudi Arabia are the twin pillars of terrorism. If we tried to do any sort of ‘regime change’ in Iran, the Saudis would benefit.

    I’m just reaching the point where I’m tired of supporting big dumb bombing campaigns. We know that they’re not effective, but we keep thinking that they’re the only possible response. Terrorism is a small-scale problem that demands elegant small scale weapons. No matter how exact they try to be, bombs are big, blundering, terrorizing public-relations disasters in crowded urban areas. The only place they belong is in tunnels.

    Isaac Ben-Israel is obviously too smart to try plan B unless it’s absolutely necessary, and I assume that most of Israel’s military would like to avoid the self-destructive flailing and strike the critical points, but I also assume that they’re hamstrung by politicians. Which is why being a military commander must be the most thankless job.

  3. Infidel753 says:

    There is a lot of truth in what you say, although I would put more stock in large-scale military operations than you do, on the grounds that jihadism does have a lot of popular support in islamic and especially Arab societies. As for being a PR disaster, the people who hate Israel will hate Israel no matter what it does or doesn’t do.

    And Iran isn’t the only problem. Iran and Saudi Arabia are the twin pillars of terrorism. If we tried to do any sort of ‘regime change’ in Iran, the Saudis would benefit.

    This is the main thing I would question. A regime change in Iran, properly handled (meaning if it was mainly driven from within by anti-mullah Iranians), would likely result in a nationalist, anti-clerical regime somewhat like that of Atatürk. The Iranian masses’ exasperation with religious fanaticism after living under it for 30 years, and their deep-rooted sense of antipathy toward Arabs, would make any popular regime there an unfriendly one to places like Saudi Arabia.

    We should stop thinking WWII and start thinking Godfather. Assad’s favorite horse’s head at the foot of his bed would probably intimidate him more than tons of bombs falling on Gaza.

    There is certainly a lot to that. We should really re-think our taboo on assassination.

  4. Mary says:

    A regime change in Iran, properly handled (meaning if it was mainly driven from within by anti-mullah Iranians), would likely result in a nationalist, anti-clerical regime somewhat like that of Atatürk. The Iranian masses’ exasperation with religious fanaticism after living under it for 30 years, and their deep-rooted sense of antipathy toward Arabs, would make any popular regime there an unfriendly one to places like Saudi Arabia.

    There are a lot of Iranians who are very pro-democracy, but they are not very well organized, militarily or politically. It would be wonderful if they could be organized, and if they could have an all-Iran overthrow of the Mullahs.

    However, if we think we can do the same thing we tried to do in Iraq (over throw the regime, let pro-democracy factions take over) we would be delusional. In Iraq, we failed to realize that our enemies would send in the insurgents in an attempt to keep any reasonable government from forming. If we invade or massively bomb Iran, we would be looking at the same scenario.

    About large scale military bombing campaigns, I think America should rethink them too, because , even ignoring the public relations aspect, they have been shown to be counterproductive. There are many ways to kill the enemy that don’t involve bombs. We have the technology.

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