Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Mr. Arkin's Barkin

Bll Arkin, who writes a savvy column on National Security for the Washington Post, has taken a swing at critics of Israel's military efforts and targeting of civillian populations in its war against Hizbullah. He argues Israel is doing fine militarily and that the critics are blinded by their anti-Bush, anti-Israel or lack of stomach for innocent casualties. War is war. To decide who won look at the balance of lost material, combatants and position, not at the public relations or perceptions.

Mr. Arkin is underinformed about Israel's own war aims. If IDF's performance until now is measured against those, then it is failing. According to Olmert, Peretz and Halutz, the immediate war objectives were to a) reestablish Israel's deterrent power, b) turn the Lebanese population against Hizbullah, c) degrade Hizbullah's armament and suppress its attacks on Israel, d) permanently cripple the organization, if not destroy it, e) win through air power and avoid commiting any large number of ground troops to Lebanon. On the basis of experience there, they wanted to avoid a quagmire.

None of these objectives have been or are likely to be achieved. On the contrary, Israel has already had to send five brigades to six brigades (7500 - 9000) men into Lebanon, and might have to double that number before a cease fire. It also finds itself etnically cleansing all of Lebanon south of the Litani. This certainly will not make Lebanes vomit out the cancer of Hizbullah, as Hulutz predicted they would. Moreover, the Hizbullah rocket attacks have not been suppressed.

Arkin is right about the attrition of considerable Hizbullah resources. This has not been without cost for Israel. Israel's costs in jet fuel, lost and expended armament, loss of production, etc. has been enormous. Furthermore, the war has revealed the rustiness of Israel's military intelligence and its vulnerability to surprises, such as the shore-to-ship missile that crippled a Israeli frigate.

One further point. Mr. Arkin, in fighting a guerilla organization, each side's perceptions of itself and the other side, and the perceptions of the surrounding civilian populations are very important. Now what would you say about the military efforts in Iraq?


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