[Freemanlist2] Isi Leibler, David Pryce-Jones, Barry Rubin - ISRAELI DEFENSE STRATEGY (3 Articles)
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ISRAELI DEFENSE STRATEGY
THE RABBLE THAT IS THE ISRAELI CABINET
Jerusalem Post, April 7, 2008
It is not merely that our prime minister is a failed leader, repeating the same flawed policies which led to our recent self-inflicted disasters. His dysfunctional ministers, content to remain ignorant of the concessions being offered to the Palestinians with life and death implications for us all, are equally blameworthy. In addition, they suffer from a malady commonly described as flapping gums, an uncontrollable urge to conduct their private political theater via statements and leaks to the media. Instead of working in unison, they condemn the policies of their government, criticize ministerial colleagues, and frequently even contradict their own statements. No democratic government in the world has ministers behaving in such an undisciplined and irresponsible manner.
The contradictory statements made in relation to the stillborn cease-fire with Hamas exemplified the chaos. Initially both Prime Minister Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak adamantly denied even indirect negotiations concerning a cease-fire with Hamas. As rumors of American-inspired Egyptian mediation surfaced, Olmert suddenly hinted at the possibility of a de-facto truce. The IDF, which strongly opposed a truce on security grounds, was instructed to cease offensive actions against Hamas for a week. Yet Barak vigorously denied the existence of a cease-fire to visiting US presidential candidate Senator John McCain. The following week, under pressure from Condoleezza Rice, and despite undisguised resistance from the IDF, Barak backtracked on easing border control crossings, dismantling roadblocks and checkpoints and providing weapons to Palestinian.
What eventuated in the wake of the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva massacre also reflected total chaos. Traumatized Israelis were shocked to learn that the parents of the mass murderer had set up a public mourning tent bedecked with Hamas flags in east Jerusalem. Ultimately the Hamas flags were forcibly removed, but unlike the Jordanians who prohibited relatives in Amman from setting up a public mourning exhibition, Interior Minister Avi Dichter saw no reason to deny the family of the killer the right to do so in Jerusalem. Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik protested, demanding, unsuccessfully, that the tent be dismantled.
Despite discreet suggestions not to visit the yeshiva, Education Minister Yuli Tamir insisted on paying a personal condolence call.
For Tamir, this episode was ideological manna.
She misrepresented Mercaz Harav Yeshiva as an extremist undemocratic institution, suggested dark parallels with the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, and hinted that government funding for Mercaz Harav could be at risk. Tamir was backed by National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, who warned, Wed seen such things before when Rabin was murdered and apparently they have not learned the lesson.... Their incitement may lead to another political murder.
Contradictory statements concerning the future of Jerusalem also reflected ministerial chaos. Deputy Premier Haim Ramon initially announced that Jerusalem would be divided, even implying that jurisdiction of the Temple Mount would be handed over to the Palestinians. After humming and hawing, Olmert conceded that a division was indeed being contemplated. However after Interior Minister Eli Yishai responded by threatening to withdraw Shas from the government, the prime minister agreed to defer discussions on Jerusalem. However, Mahmoud Abbas reiterated that Jerusalem was in fact being negotiatedwhich was confirmed by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. To add further confusion, Minister for Pensioners Affairs Rafi Eitan, in total disregard of the negotiations, publicly announced that Jerusalem would remain united forever.
In an effort to divert pressure from his constituency to leave the government, Yishai announced that in response to demands from his party, Olmert would approve new housing within the settlement blocs. He was promptly contradicted in New York by Livni, who also condemned her governments decision to build in Givat Zeev and warned of an impending collision with the Americans. Yishais predictions were ratified when Olmert once again contradicted himself and approved the additional housing.
Then we were subjected to Baraks bizarre proclamation that prior to future military responses to Hamas, approval would be obtained from the Supreme Court.
The madness climaxed when Prime Minister Olmert recently told Ashkelon residents to adjust themselves to having red alerts for a long time. At the same time, while visiting a school in the city, the prime minister engaged in a mock drill with the children, who would hide under their desks when he called red alert. When our prime minister makes defeatist remarks to citizens facing missile attacks and indulges in such bizarre games with schoolchildren, one is sorely tempted to question whether he is losing the plot. But that in no way detracts from the fact that the entire government shares responsibility for the chaos enveloping the nation.
DEAD END: THE HEARTBREAKING REALITIES
OF TODAYS ISRAEL
National Review, April 7, 2008
Israels enemies have always wished to destroy it, of course, but whats new this time is that they are avoiding the set-piece battles that lost them all previous wars, and are instead elaborating the tactics of terror. Islamist Iran has made itself the driving force. The terrorist movements Hezbollah and Hamas are both Iranian satellites, and their presence on Israels borders ensures that Iran can already engage in terrorism on its own terms and at times of its own choosing. Theres a civilizational dimension to it as well: Science and technology have hitherto given Western states their supremacy over the Muslim world. As Iran moves toward possession of the nuclear weapon, this historic advantage is neutralized. A nuclear-armed Iran will be able to promote terror at state level, changing the balance of forces as never before against the West in general and Israel in particular. You dont have to be in Israel very long, or hold many conversations, to realize how the
threat from Iran induces denial in some and fear in others.
In the new Cold War shaping up between Islamism and the democratic West, Israel holds the front line. Once again, the values of the opposing sides are irreconcilable. Israel, and behind it the United States, treats even the most intractable issues as open to negotiation and compromise. In the Arab and Muslim order, power is absolute and has to be victorious, so negotiation and compromise are euphemisms for shame and surrender.
The present plight of the Palestinians perfectly illustrates how the logic of absolute power dictates extreme behavior. For the past 50 or so years, Arab nationalism had been the dominant ideology in the Middle East. Fatah under Yasser Arafat, a typically absolute leader, was the Palestinian branch of Arab nationalism, but its failure to provide a decent life for the masses was total. Islamism appeared a viable alternative. The founding of Hamas in 1987 as an Islamist movement was thus a challenge to Fatah. Slowly but steadily, the conflict between Hamas and Fatah grew, and came to an inevitable head in the civil war in Gaza in 2005. This was small-scale, but still brutal enough to frighten the population into submission.
Civil war has divided the Palestinians ideologically and even geographically, with Hamas in Gaza and Fatah on the rump of the West Bank. The loser, Mahmoud Abbas, heir of Arafat as leader of Fatah, is a broken man. Nominally he governs from his office in Ramallah, but actually he is hardly more than a figurehead. Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni, the general officer commanding the Israeli armys central command, makes the stark point that, without the Israeli presence on the West Bank, Hamas would take over within two days. Yet out of the blue, President Bush said that he expects the Palestinians to have a state of their own by the end of the year, and to guarantee Israeli security on top of it.
The Western powers have pledged $7.7 billion to Abbas, though how much of this will ever find its way to the people on the street is a very open question.
[I]t is crassly Eurocentric to think that this can be negotiated to any conclusion. Iran evidently has the opposite, Islamocentric belief that power is indeed absolute, and that the conquest of Israel is not only desirable but achievable. As the ayatollahs see it, the fighting launched by Hezbollah in 2005 led to a temporary stalemate, and with a lot more arms and money they will do better next time. Hamas operates identically. The borders of the Gaza Strip with Israel and with Egypt are fortified and closed. Hamas activists have been smuggling arms through tunnels dug under the border with Egypt.
Over the last 18 months, Hamas and affiliated Islamist groups have fired some 8,000 rockets and other missiles to a depth of about twelve miles into the Israeli territory adjoining the Gaza Strip, and especially the small town of Sderot, with a population of 20,000, many of them immigrants. Known as Qassams, these rockets are erratic, and have killed only about a dozen people, though maiming many more, and driving out of their homes hundreds of others. The rockets are fired from behind a screen of civilians so that Israeli countermeasures are liable to kill innocent women and children, prompting an international outcry that the response is disproportionate and thus handing Hamas a propaganda victory. As a constant needling challenge to Israeli sovereignty, yet not one so damaging as to merit serious reprisal, the Hamas tactic displays undoubted imagination and innovation, however callous. The shaping of the conflict remains with them.
Lately Hamas organized a mass breakout through the fortified barrier with Egypt, and used this occasion to bring into Gaza Iranian-made Grad missiles with a heavier payload and a longer range than the Qassams. (They also brought in a number of men, possibly from al-Qaeda, trained in Iran.) At the beginning of March, several of these Grads hit the city of Ashkelon, which has a population of 120,000 and much industrial capacity. At the same moment, a barrage of some 50 Qassams was fired daily. Here was an escalation of the ongoing test of strength. An Israeli armored column then entered Gaza and killed about 120 Palestinians, most of them from Hamas, only to have to withdraw to the usual worldwide clamor about disproportion. Olmert made it plain that if Hamas desisted from violence he would accept a truce. We dont have a policy of operations, but rather one of systematic fighting, over time, every place there is terror, he said, or, in plain language: He has no idea
what to do. As if to prove Olmerts helplessness, a Hamas gunman shot dead eight teenage students in a religious seminary in Jerusalem.
The military strategist with whom I talked argues that there are no solutions. A truce only allows Hamas to rearm. In his view there is no alternative to a local version of the Petraeus surge, an occupation of Gaza in great force, and a clearing-out of Hamas. As the terrorists cant easily be identified and separated out from civilians, the operation would be like punching air, both necessary and futile. Which is the problem in a nutshell.
LENNONISM PAINTS THE MIDDLE EAST
Jerusalem Post, April 14, 2008
The Middle East today is driven by five big conflicts: individual states jockeying for power; the Iran-Syria alliance against everyone else; each country's internal struggle between Arab nationalists and Islamist; the perennial Sunni-Shi'ite tug of war; and the Arab-Israeli conflict. No wonder there's so much turmoil. To many in the West, this seems a time-wasting matter of "false consciousness." One need merely explain their true interests to the Iranian and Syrian governments, to Hamas or Hizbullah, to Arabs and Muslims, so they can rise to moderation. Western sins will be atoned by throwing out Israelis, Lebanese, and Iraqis with the bath water.
How can the doctrine now dominating Western discourse possibly understand these issues, especially when the song of the siren is heard in the land? Call it Lennonism, not the Leninism of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov but of former Beatles member John Lennon. His blueprint for utopia would be a better theme song for the European Union than its current anthem: Imagine there's no countries/It isn't hard to do/Nothing to kill or die for/And no religion too/Imagine all the people/Living life in peace....
As Ira Gershwin's famous lyrics have it: "It ain't necessarily so."
There are several problems with Lennonism. First, contrary to current wisdom, love of country and belief in religion can be a very productive thingdepending of course on specifics. Second, despite the misdeeds committed in the name of deity and country, those guilty of the committing similar ones today are rarely from Western democracies. After centuries, the West has developed a tolerant form of patriotism and religion. Why abandon what you've managed to tune properly? Third, it's quite true that some use God to justify their own will and terrible deeds but, as Fyodor Dostoevsky reminded us in 1880, if God doesn't exist, morality rests on a weak foundation.
In any case, the Middle East is not ready for the Lennonist vision. For those confronting the real threat of radical Arab nationalism and Islamism, Lennonism is unilateral disarmament. The more Lennonist the West, the more contemptuous and certain of victory are its enemies.
To make matters worse, Lennonists give the Middle East a free pass, arguing that Arabs and Muslims have such compelling grievances that they cannot be expected to indulge in this elevated philosophy. In effect, the Lennonists accept the notion that Western civilization is an empty cart which must give way at the bridge to the full cart of those who really believe in nationalism and religion. According to this view, those who want to kill you are reacting to past oppression and so that makes it okay. The West must destroy its own patriotism and religion while appeasing that of those who "really mean it." And let's not forget that if you ridicule Christianity and Judaism or slander America or other democratic states no one will cut off your head. Instead, you will become a hero to the intellectual and cultural elite.
In Barack Obama, America now has its first Lennonist presidential candidate. He recently accused average small-town Americans of being bitter over economic problems and so "they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." This is a version of the Marxist concept that anything other than determination to pursue economic well-being through a leftist utopian solution is "false consciousness." Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini explained 30 years ago that anyone thinking Islamist revolution's purpose was "to lower the price of housing or watermelons" was a fool.
The real world is tough. Conflict is real, hate effective, and there are people out there trying to kill you. Better hope there are some on your own side motivated enough by patriotism, religion, and love of liberty that they'll put their bodies between you and the bullets because they think there is something worth killing and dying for. Lennonism is intoxicating: believe in change; all can be okay if we just keep apologizing and don't offend anyone. Unfortunately, though, nowadays there are many who, to quote Lennon, "dream the world will be one." And the world they envision as one would be living under a caliphate.
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