David Kilcullen, Petraeus's counterinsurgency adviser, concluded that just as the Iraqis had stared at the possibility of full-blown civil war that year but ultimately turned away, so, too, had the American public considered a leap into the unknown -- and stopped short.
"America," he said, "has taken a deep breath, looked into the abyss of pulling out and decided, 'Let's not do it yet.'"
All armies are by nature ill-prepared for unconventional wars. During the Israeli occupation of Lebanon (1982-2000) Hizbullah often attacked the Israeli army on Sundays when supplies were brought in and soldiers came back from leave. "Armies need to work more like an Amtrack train (known for its irregularity) and less like a Swiss train when fighting guerrillas," says Göksel.
In addition to infantry, armor and intelligence units, the Israel Defense Forces has also deployed eight Eland antelope to further secure Israel's tense northern border against Hezbollah. The antelope have been stationed in the zone between the security fence and the international border to clear problematic foliage that distorts views of the Lebanese side and within which Hezbollah guerillas could hide. The animals, each weighing in at over 500 kilograms, are known for their sharp incisors and fondness for eating vegetation. Hailing from eastern Africa, the animals were first brought to Israel more than 30 years ago as part of a project to raise them at local zoos before sending them to Europe.
In the aftermath of the war, Fatah and Hamas are already fighting over who will distribute humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. Hamas is preventing Fatah activists from playing a role in the rebuilding of Gaza, and recently hijacked 12 trucks full of aid donated by the Jordanian government, meant for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.So this is the fight to watch next. Pay close attention to who rebuilds Gaza -- and how Hamas will seek to get credit for every bit of aid that is delivered to the people. That fight will help determine the long-term strategic effects of this latest spasm of violence.
The rockets, presumably launched in support of Hamas, could presage the opening of a second front. The Israeli Army, in a brief statement, said it “responded with fire against the source of the rockets,” which landed near the town of Nahariya. Two Israelis were slightly wounded, the police said.
So far there has been no claim of responsibility. A spokeswoman for the militant group Hezbollah, which triggered a war with Israel in 2006 by firing rockets into northern Israel from Lebanon, said an investigation was underway. “We are still looking for information about it,” she said.
For once, I am inclined to believe a Hizballah spokesperson. (Although this particular spokeswoman is most certainly "Madam No" herself, quite possibly the worst spokesperson in the history of spokespersons. Or speaking.)
a) I honestly do not believe that Hizballah has an interest in sparking an Israeli counter-attack (just yet) through an action of their own.
b) If this was Hizballah, I would think it would be a little more spectacular than three to four rockets.
c) This has happened before. Some rogue Palestinian group or Sunni group will manage to launch a few rockets into Israel. Hizballah will get a case of the red ass because, hey, resistance along the Blue Line is their territory -- and theirs alone. And as long as the Israelis play it cool, no one else gets hurt.
So be cool.
Update: This is not being cool. Two rockets is NOT the realization of the "Iranian threat." Hizballah launched upwards of 240 rockets a day during 2006. That is the Iranian threat. So too are any rockets capable of striking the population centers around Tel Aviv. But two rockets? Seriously? You don't even know who fired them, Ha'aretz writer dude.
... the harshest blow to Israel was the widespread perception that Hizbollah had fought the mighty IDF to a standstill: as the late Ha’aretz defence correspondent Ze’ev Schiff lamented to me a few months after the war, “We have lost our deterrence capability.”
But this may have been one of many false assumptions about the results of 2006. It was said, for example, that the fighting would set Lebanon back a decade. But this summer’s tourist season was the best in memory, and despite the global economic crisis, the banking sector remains strong. As I have travelled around both southern Lebanon and the Dahiyeh in the past few months, I have been struck by the speed and skill with which Hizbollah and external donors – not just Iran but also the countries of the Gulf and the West – have rebuilt areas that appeared devastated beyond repair. Lebanon – and Hizbollah’s constituents – now have as much to lose in 2008 as they did in 2006.
In this light – and reflecting upon the belligerent words coming from Tel Aviv – Schiff may have been mistaken. Some of my Lebanese friends have dismissed the words of Eisenkot as “dangerous” and “stupid”. But I am not sure they are either.Deterrence, as the legendary American defence analyst John Collins reminds us, is a strategy for peace – not for war. The principles of deterrence are different from those of war. Whereas surprise and security are paramount in war, deterrence often hinges on publicising one’s capabilities and leading the enemy to believe you’re crazy enough to use them to the full effect.
In 2006 Israel brought a horrific amount of air and artillery power to bear on Lebanon, and few north of the Blue Line believe they would hesitate to do so again. Hizbollah’s July 2006 cross-border kidnapping raid was a serious mistake that had devastating consequences for the people of Lebanon. If the words of Eisenkot have effectively communicated that another such provocation will bring even harsher retribution, then Israel’s deterrent capability remains intact – so long as it doesn’t have to be put to use.
[Read it all here.] [Also, Nir has a piece on PMCs in the same issue.]
"ARIEL SHARON has done it again. ... Israel's new Prime Minister is accusing the Iranians of transferring new long-range missiles to Lebanon - capable, so he claims, of hitting the centre of Israel - and accusing Syria of using Lebanon's airports to transfer these fantasy missiles. It's important to use the word fantasy. In the hundreds of miles I travel across Lebanon every month, I have yet to see a long-range missile, let alone a transporter. Satellite pictures would easily identify such a rocket and Beirut airport is these days so hide-bound with security that you couldn't move a rifle through its terminal."Well! If Robert Fisk says they don't exist, they don't exist. Right? Because the odds of one of the world's most secretive guerrilla organizations being able to hide an advanced weapons system from Robert Fisk and his trusty driver Abed are approximately 0.00/1,000. You have no secrets that you can hide from Robert Fisk, Hassan Nasrallah, so don't even bother trying. He knows where you are right this very minute, in fact, and is coming to interview you this evening after he drives his obligatory hundred miles around the Bekaa Valley. (You're in Zahle today, right? Having ice cream? Fisk knew that. He also knows you summer in Ehden. No one else would have guessed that, but Fisk did.)
- Robert Fisk, The Independent (London), 30 March 2001.