Sunday, August 13, 2006


Today's Washington Post features an excellent article on the development and organization of Hezbollah's capabilities. At the start of the war most observers, including this writer, expected IDF to quickly rout or severely damage Hezbollah. They were surprised by its ability to withstand Israeli attacks and keep counter-punching. Knowledgable obervers and IDF high command were also surprised by Hezbollah's possession and sophisticated use of certain weapons, like anti-tank missiles. As the article points out, IDF's experience in this war was quite different from its 1982 invasion of Lebanon, when it sliced through disorganized and (informant) penetrated Palestinian forces to reach Beirut in a matter of days.

Hezbollah's relative success creates two immediate problems for IDF. First, Hezbollah will resist standing down ideologically and disarming. Second, IDF will need to learn why it had such difficulty in mastering Hezbollah. To do, it must acknowledge that it had difficulties, that its intellgence was faulty, its tactics unsuccessful and its strategies virtually non-existent. Doing that will be very hard. If Israeli general Ido Nahustan, as quoted in the article, is indicative, the General Staff is already blustering past such admissions.

Moreover Israel and its supporters need to recognize a fundamental point about IDF: for the last 30 years it has been an army of occupation, dependent as much on its spies among the Palestinians as on its own initiative. Such armies tend to rust, micro-management and incessant office politics. With regard to their operations, right wing military historian and former paratrooper Michael Orren perhaps said it best: I was trained [in the 1970s] to take out Syrian tanks. My son was trained to arrest Palestinians in their houses at 2 in the morning.


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