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The Times reported that the Israeli government believes it must spend more money on "hasbara," a Hebrew word that falls somewhere between propaganda and information. It is true that the world media, generally speaking, doesn't like Israel very much, and stacks the deck against it, but good hasbara starts with not allowing soldiers to vandalize Palestinian homes and shoot Palestinian women.Now why do I mention this? Because I'm sticking to my guns -- how you behave tactically has strategic effects on the modern battlefield. My central thesis, I believe, is correct -- whether you're talking about the U.S. military, the IDF, or any other Western military:
In modern conflict against violent nonstate actors like Hamas, Hezbollah or guerrilla groups in Iraq and Afghanistan, it may be in the best interests of the dominant military actor to adhere to rules of engagement that go beyond the laws of land warfare and international conventions. As the United States military has discovered in both Iraq and Afghanistan, civilian casualties have a direct effect on the effectiveness of operations in the strategic sense.I was exchanging emails with Michael Totten about his blog post on Commentary, and he correctly noted that I did not have much space in the Times piece to talk about how Iraq differs from the Palestinian Territories or how American priorities in Iraq differ from Israeli priorities. But leaving Israel aside, can we agree that -- in the age of television and the new media -- decisions made by corporals and sergeants have strategic effect? Is this really controversial?