From Col. Lang – a very interesting post on the structure of the IDF.
Also, lost in all of the moral analysis of the current mess (why must San Diego always get bombed by Tijuana in analogies?) is how Israel benefits from it’s current engagement. The rocket attacks were bearable for quite some time – and no one goes to war out of principle anymore. The explanation of doing it while Bush is still in office doesn’t seem to be that credible, Obama hasn’t said anything different than Bush 43, and he has something to prove, so I imagine he would be even more agreeable to Israeli action than Bush (and as a reminder, Bush stopped the Israelis from bombing Iran a few months ago).
I suppose the War Nerd’s explanation of the attacks being used to weaken Hamas so Fatah could eventually win their civil war has the most credence, but that has problems too.
A question to my many readers
I recently watched Hillary Clinton basically state that her administration would treat an attack on Israel as an attack on the United States. Charles Krauthammer makes a similar proposal in a column here. He is kind enough to give some reason as to why the US should assume this burden, specifically
it will be said, because Israel could retaliate on its own. The problem is that Israel is a very small country with a small nuclear arsenal that could be destroyed in a first strike. During the Cold War, both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. created vast and invulnerable submarine fleets to ensure a retaliatory strike and, thus, deterrence. The invulnerability and unimaginably massive size of this American nuclear arsenal would make a U.S. deterrent far more potent and reliable than any Israeli facsimile — and thus far more likely to keep the peace.
If I remember correctly, Israel has nuclear missile submarines, which would make a successful Iranian first strike unlikely.
The question is, does anyone seriously expect that Iran would be willing to gamble on a sixty percent change of annihilation, but not a 100% chance? Realistically that would be more like a 90% chance due to American political wavering, but let’s call it 100% for arguments sake.
The obvious answer to this is “The Iranians are irrational” which is a claim not borne out be history. They’ve been quite skillful players of brinkmanship for years now. Evil and harmful yes, irrational and stupid, definitely not. Is there really that much value to pandering to the American fans of Israel?
I’ve been in favor of moving American troops to Kuwait and Kurdistan and letting the various Iraqi factions settle itself, with American troops playing Spoiler for our own interests. Upon further thought I’m not so sure.
Kuwait isn’t really a factor, but Kurdistan is. Assuming that the Kurds do secede (which seems likely) we would be the guarantor of last resort for an ethnically homogeneous enclave, much like we are with Israel. While supporting the Israelis is perhaps the right thing to do, it’s doubtful that the relationship is worthwhile on a cost benefit basis. That raises the question, do we really need another exposed ally with little to offer surrounded by hostile countries? Supporting the Kurds would alienate the surrounding countries and be a considerable financial and troop expense.
Then again, it does put another outpost of democracy and freedom (for the region) in the area and the second Israel isn’t the same as the first.
From this rather odd article about the future of Israel
As Peter O’Toole said as Lawrence of Arabia in the movie of that title, “Nothing is written.” However, it seems clear how to bet. As so often in history, bet on the horrible outcome.
I think the post is flawed as it assumes that the current Israeli situation will not change by several orders of magnitude in qualitative ways as the decades roll by. Of course, there is no reason for the changes to be good, but current trends seldom hold before Bit Rot settles in. Worth reading
These musings do make the Israeli strategy a bit more rational. To wit:
what is the most important component of Hezbollah’s power in the south? Again the answer is easy. It is the Hezbollah cadres themselves. Hezbollah’s most precious possession isn’t Katyushas, long-range rockets, night vision goggles or antitank missiles or electronic equipment. It is the trained core of its military force. Equipment can be replaced but Hezbollah’s cadres represent an expensive, almost irreplaceable investment. In them resides the organizational knowledge of Nasrallah’s organization. It embodies man-decades of operational experience against Israel. Rockets can be replaced. The stars of Hezbollah’s operational force are less expendable.
The Hezbollah are doing the single most stupid thing imaginable for a guerilla organization. They are fighting to keep territory. Oh, I know that this will be justified in terms of “inflicting casualties” on the Israelis. But the Hez are probably losing 10 for every Israeli lost. A bad bargain for Israel you say? No. A bad bargain for Hezbollah to trade their terrorist elite for highly trained but nevertheless conventional infantry.
That was why Spartacus’ revolt against the Romans failed as well.
From the comments of a vitriolic post about an Israeli flag being waved at some soccer game
This is why the entire Arab world can barely make a good washing machine and we send people into space for fun.
And via Jane Galt (original post about second languages)
I’m a poor programmer whose solution to execution failures is type louder and more slowly.