Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Post Mortem
William Arkin has a pretty good column up today that is a kind of post mortem on the Israel campaign in southern Lebannon. In his piece, Arkin decry's the Israeli's for their inappropriate .... and ineffective .... use of airpower during the campaign:
In the 24 hours before the agreed cease-fire, the Israeli Air Force carried out more than 200 air strikes, including attacks on eight "gas stations serving Hezbollah."

Gas stations.

If Israel and Hezbollah are fighting again in six weeks or six months, it will be because of those gas stations.
Mind you, this comes from an intelligence expert who is a fan of air power.
What is clear is that the Israeli military proved unable to modify its own "conventional" military approach to respond (and fight) accordingly. In other words, Israel's "failure" on the ground is due to the same failure of conception and imagination in the use of airpower. These militaries -- Israeli and U.S. -- constantly say they are fighting a "new" enemy and yet just can't seem to get away from fighting them in old and counter-productive ways.
He, correctly in my estimation, makes a clear case for an Israeli strategy that misuses air power in such a way that ultimately strengthens Hezbollah. The whole "hit an ant with a sledge hammer" thing becomes merely a propoganda tool for the recruitment of further insurgents in the war against Israel. Arkin complete's the circle with this:
So Israel is stuck, as is the United States, with the conundrum of modern military power. We accumulate statistical success not only to no political avail but to our future detriment. Hezbollah's strengthening in the face of the Israeli military -- and the celebrations rippling through the Arab world that Israel and the United States have been thwarted (just as in Iraq) -- comes from "conventional" defeat. "We" show no regard for civilians in our conduct, we even destroy their gas stations. Given that "they" don't have F-16s to attack us with, they are reduced to using rockets or airliners to strike back.

Israel won, whoopee.
The political strength of Republicans has consistently been that they are muscular on defense and international diplomacy. Yet, it's that very same muscularity that has led this country to ruin now in two wars in the last 50 years. The Democrats seem to have learned their lesson via Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam while the Republicans apparently have not. And unfortunately, the rest of the country pays the price for lessons un-learned.