Friday, July 11, 2014

The Changing Face of Warfare

Iron Dome [pictured above] may emerge as the hero of this Gaza War. US President Ronald Reagan was the impetus behind Iron Dome, initiating a highly controversial program dubbed "Star Wars."  IDF soldiers stand guard with the Iron Dome battery in front of them.

Why Does Hamas Want War? -Daniel Pipes, PhD

[T]he first 25 years of Israel's existence saw repeated challenges to its existence (especially in 1948-49, 1967, and 1973) and no one knew how those wars would turn out. [O]utcomes were unpredictably decided on the battlefield.

No longer: The battlefield outcome of Arab-Israeli wars in last 40 years have been predictable; everyone knows Israeli forces will prevail. It's more like cops and robbers than warfare. Ironically, this lopsidedness turns attention from winning and losing to morality and politics. Israel's enemies provoke it to kill civilians, whose deaths bring them multiple benefits.

The four conflicts since 2006 have restored Hamas' tarnished reputation for "resistance," built solidarity on the home front, stirred dissent among both Arabs and Jews in Israel, galvanized Palestinians and other Muslims to become suicide bombers, embarrassed non-Islamist Arab leaders, secured new United Nations resolutions bashing Israel, inspired Europeans to impose harsher sanctions on Israel, opened the international Left's spigot of vitriol against the Jewish state, and won additional aid from the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The holy grail of political warfare is to win the sympathy of the global Left by presenting oneself as underdog and victim. (From a historic point of view, it bears pointing out, this is very strange: Traditionally, combatants tried to scare the enemy by presenting themselves as fearsome and unstoppable.)

The tactics of this new warfare include presenting a convincingly emotional narrative, citing endorsements of famous personalities, appealing to the conscience, and drawing simple but powerful political cartoons (Israeli supporters tend to excel at this, both in the past and now). Palestinians get even more creative, developing the twin fraudulent techniques of "fauxtography" for still pictures and "Pallywood" for videos. Israelis used to be complacent about the need for what they call hasbara, or getting the message out, but recent years find them more focused on this.

Hilltops, cities, and strategic roadways matter supremely in the Syria and Iraqi civil wars, but morality, proportionality, and justice dominate Arab-Israeli wars. As I wrote during the 2006 Israel-Hamas confrontation, "Solidarity, morale, loyalty, and understanding are the new steel, rubber, oil, and ammunition." Or in 2012: "Opeds have replaced bullets, social media have replaced tanks." More broadly, this is part of the profound change in modern warfare when Western and non-Western forces fight, as in the U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Clausewitzian terms, public opinion is the new center of gravity.

All this said, how fares Hamas? Not well. Its battlefield losses since July 8 appear higher than expected and worldwide condemnations of Israel have yet to pour in. Even the Arabic media are relatively quiet. If this pattern holds, Hamas might conclude that raining rockets on Israeli homes is not such a good idea. Indeed, to dissuade it from initiating another assault in a few years, it needs to lose both the military and the political wars, and lose them very badly.
[National Review Online]

Numbers Don’t Tell the Mideast Story - Thane Rosenbaum

Retaliatory responses in the Gaza settings will invariably result in equations that simply won’t add up to equivalent losses.

Hamas fires rockets the way Brazilians dance: all over the place. They have launched thousands of them at Israel since 2005—unsuccessfully but indiscriminately, without any regard to where they might land.

When it comes to its retaliatory airstrikes, Israel calls the cell phone numbers of the Palestinians whose houses are about to be bombed.

Paradoxically the world is holding Israel responsible for Hamas being unable to shoot straight. Israel’s moral position would be stronger if the casualty count was more equal. But under what moral principle must a nation mimic both the madness and the misdirection of its enemy?
(Daily Beast)

Jerusalem Film Festival Gets Underway - Andreas Wiseman

The 31st Jerusalem Film Festival gets underway this week despite the escalating troubles in the region.

“No doubt about it, the festival takes place as planned,” said CEO Noa Regev yesterday. “We are continuing our lives in the best way possible with the situation around us.”

More than 200 films from around 50 countries will screen at the enlarged event, which will host industry heavyweights.
(Screen Daily)

How Long Can Israel's Air Campaign Go On? - Karl Vick

“This is not a classic Arab-Israeli conflict, where it goes on for a couple of weeks and then the great powers intervene,” said Dore Gold, a former Israeli U.N. ambassador who now heads the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Hamas, he noted, is not only listed by Europe and Washington as a terrorist organization, it also lacks backing in the Arab world, which is preoccupied with sectarian divisions and leery of its Muslim Brotherhood roots.

Its political weakness moved the militant group to make the concessions required to complete a long-promised unity government with the secular Fatah faction led by Abbas, but the deal has failed to produce any evidence at all that “bringing Hamas in to the tent” would moderate its behavior. “They’re not acting like a terror group on its way to governing,” Gold said. “They’re behaving in the worst possible way.”

PA and Other Arab Reactions to the Gaza Crisis - David Pollock

High-level U.S. statements, from President Obama on down, have so far not asked Abbas to account for the PA's failure to oppose the Hamas rocket fire. Washington should unconditionally demand that Hamas stop shooting rockets into Israel -- and that the PA fulfill its longstanding commitment to precisely that position.

(Washington Institute)

Israel Under Attack - Lee Smith

If Hamas is pacing its missile fire, it means they’re in it for the long haul. If they’re crossing red lines by firing missiles at Dimona as well as Ben Gurion airport, it means they’re going all out. The question is why.

Some analysts point to likely Iranian involvement— indeed use of the long-range M-302, not previously in the arsenal of Hamas, underscores that suggestion. The Iranians have a lot of cards to play in Gaza, including Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian factions, as well as Hamas itself.

As Israeli analyst Shimon Shapira commented recently, “Iran is more than capable of going over the head of Hamas’s political leadership and arming its military commanders directly.”

Hamas may be putting on a demonstration for Tehran of how helpful it can be to the Islamic Republic. With Hezbollah tied down in Syria fighting alongside Assad, Hamas is another tool of Iranian deterrence should the Israelis consider striking Iran’s nuclear weapons facilities.
(Weekly Standard)

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