Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Not Ready for War

I questioned the whole notion that Israel has to respond to enemy attacks only in proportion to the initial attack by the enemy:

Don't our enemies count on "proportional" responses to keep fighting? After all, they boast that we love life and they love death. They count on killing two or two thousand of us and then we just kill a few of them or perhaps a few thousand in response. They can take such exchanges far longer than we can in their thinking. In this sense "proportionality" is just fighting on their terms. It is not fighting to win--it is fighting until the enemy wins.

Notwithstanding my firm belief that Israel is making a tremendous mistake hitting Lebanese targets, I think the Israelis would be quite justified in going after Hizbollah or even Syria quite hard.

If he is to be believed, Hizbollah did expect Israel to respond proportionally:

Mahmoud Komati, the deputy chief of the Hezbollah politburo, told The Associated Press here that the guerrilla's leadership had not expected a massive offensive when it snatched the two Israeli soldiers.

"The truth is — let me say this clearly — we didn't even expect (this) response ... that (Israel) would exploit this operation for this big war against us," he said.

Instead, he said Hezbollah had thought Israel would respond to the soldiers' capture by snatching Hezbollah leaders in commando raids and that negotiations for a swap would start, giving Hezbollah the chance to try to win the release of Lebanese prisoners held by Israel.

That is interesting. If Iran and Syria did push the button to unleash Hizbollah and distract us from addressing Iran's nukes, this explains Iran's and Syria's relatively restrained actions in support of Hizbollah in the face of Israel's attack. They just wanted a distraction--not a war.

But while Hizbollah, Syria, and Iran mave been surprised by the scale of Israel's response, they have been saved from the consequences of their misjudgment by Israel's unfocused flailing about.

Israel would have made Iran pay by striking hard at either Syria or just Hizbollah while sparing Lebanese civilians. So I guess Israel wasn't ready for war, either.