Israel: Wedded To War?
|Thursday, October 9,2008 16:12|
|By Ben White|
"The Guardian" -- - For Israel, the aftermath of the 2006 Lebanon war was all about questions. What mistakes were made, and who made them? What could be done to restore the Israeli military"s "deterrence" after a widely perceived defeat? In general, what lessons could be learned from the confrontation with Hizbullah in order that next time, there would be no question of failure?
Unfortunately, it seems that entirely the wrong kinds of conclusions are being reached, at least in the military hierarchy and among the policy shaping thinktanks. On Friday, Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper published comments made by Israeli general Gadi Eisenkot, head of the army"s northern command. Eisenkot took the opportunity to share the principles shaping plans for a future war.
The general promised "disproportionate" force to destroy entire villages identified as sources of Hizbullah rocket fire, the reasoning being that they are "not civilian villages" but rather "military bases" – the kind of reasoning that can land you in a war crimes tribunal.
Eisenkot pointed to how
The frank promise of "disproportionate" force will be chilling for the Lebanese, who even last time round were subjected to indiscriminate attack, the targeted destruction of civilian infrastructure, and carpet cluster-bombing. But what Ha"aretz dubbed the "Dahiya Doctrine" received enthusiastic support in some quarters, such as veteran Israeli TV and print journalist Yaron London.
The Ha"aretz report also described how similar conclusions were being reached in reports by military-academic institutions. One such paper, published by the Institute of National Security Studies (INSS) at
With an outbreak of hostilities, the IDF will need to act immediately, decisively, and with force that is disproportionate to the enemy"s actions and the threat it poses. Such a response aims at inflicting damage and meting out punishment to an extent that will demand long and expensive reconstruction processes.
Siboni urges the Israeli military to strike disproportionately at "the enemy"s weak points", and only afterwards to go after the missile launchers themselves. Devastating "economic interests", "centres of civilian powers", and "state infrastructure" will "create a lasting memory among Syrian and Lebanese decision makers" and thus increase "Israeli deterrence" and tie up "enemy" resources in reconstruction.
A further new INSS publication by a former head of the National Security Council, urges
This determination to "create a lasting memory" in the minds of the Syrian and Lebanese is reminiscent of previous Israeli declarations of intent. In 2003, the IDF"s chief of staff, Lieutenant General Moshe Ya"alon, said that the war being waged in the occupied territories would "sear deep into the consciousness of Palestinians that they are a defeated people".
In 2006 in fact, the likes of Dr Reuven Erlich, head of the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Centre at the Centre for Special Studies in Tel Aviv, also recommended "searing" into the "Lebanese consciousness" the "steep price they will pay for provoking and harassing us".
Using brute force to "sear" certain truths into the consciousness of Arabs of varying descriptions has a certain heritage in Israeli and Zionist thought, going all the way back to Jabotinsky"s theory of the "iron wall". In the 1920s he wrote candidly that "every indigenous people will resist alien settlers as long as they see any hope of ridding themselves of the danger of foreign settlement". The need then was for an "iron wall" of force to bring the Palestinians to the point of giving up "all hope".
While the brutal logic of settler-colonial domination has been a guiding principle for Israeli military strategists through the decades, it has been complemented by the racist "anthropological" cliche that the "Arabs only understand force". Interestingly, such tropes are now commonplace in
Thus it seems