On the 32nd day of the war, Hizbullah is still standing and fighting. That by itself is a stunning feat: a small guerilla organization, with a few thousand fighters, is standing up to one of the strongest armies in the world and has not been broken after a month of “pulverizing”. Since 1948, the armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan have repeatedly been beaten in wars that were much shorter. � if a light-weight boxer is fighting a heavy-weight champion and is still standing in the 12th round, the victory is his – whatever the count of points says.
Clearly, Hizbullah has prepared well for this war – while the Israeli command has prepared for a quite different war. On the level of individual fighters, the Hizbullah are not inferior to our soldiers, neither in bravery nor in initiative.
This war casts a dark shadow on the whole upper echelon of our army. I assume that there are some talented officers, but the general picture is of a senior officers corps that is mediocre or worse, grey and unoriginal. Almost all the many officers that have appeared on TV are unimpressive, uninspiring professionals, experts on covering their behinds, repeating empty cliches like parrots.
� an army that has been acting for many years as a colonial police force against the Palestinian population – “terrorists”, women and children – and spending its time running after stone-throwing boys, cannot remain an efficient army. The test of results confirms this.
Judging from the reactions of the commanders in the field, they clearly were completely unaware of the defense system built by Hizbullah in South Lebanon. The complex infrastructure of hidden bunkers, stocked with modern equipment and stockpiles of food and weapons was a complete surprise for the army. It was not ready for these bunkers, including those built two or three kilometers from the border. They are reminiscent of the tunnels in Vietnam.
History teaches that defeat can be a great blessing for an army. A victorious army rests on its laurels, it has no motive for self-criticism, it degenerates, its commanders become careless and lose the next war. (see: the Six-day war leading to the Yom Kippur war). A defeated army, on the other side, knows that it must rehabilitate itself. On one condition: that it admits defeat.
The author’s conclusion, that Israel can cut a deal with Syria and Hezbollah is wrong. But the critique of the Israeli military’s performance seems to be accurate, unfortunately.
Incidentally, Hezbollah’s performance, including its use of underground positions, was foretold accurately by H. John Poole in his book Tactics of the Crescent Moon: Militant Muslim Combat Methods, which came out almost two years ago.
UPDATE: Jonathan tells me this author is a notorious Leftist. Not surprising, given some of the stuff in this article. Nonetheless, the criticisms he levels here seem to be legitimate. Also, the idea that the military would have done a bang-up job but the civilians wouldn’t let them does not seem right. We had the same myth about Vietnam. But in both wars it seems that the generals botched their part of the program badly. The Israelis have just handed our common enemies a major victory. There is plenty of well-deserved blame to go around.