Briefly, it’s good to see this editorial understanding the realities of counter-insurgency in the The Forward, the oldest Jewish newspaper in the US:
Angered at the meager results of their latest Lebanon war, Israelis are
furiously debating a host of piercing questions this month to
understand what went wrong. Was it poor military planning? Inept
political leadership? Erosion of their famed army reserve system? A
deeper culture of shortcuts and buck-passing? All of these? Why, they
ask insistently, did this war not look like their past triumphs, such
as the Six Day War, the Sinai Campaign or even the come-from-behind
victory of the Yom Kippur War? Why was this war different from all
other Israeli wars?
Important queries all, but they miss the most critical question.
Israelis should not be asking why this war didn’t resemble the Six Day
War. Rather, they should ask why it looked so much like America’s wars
in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam, or like Russia’s wars in Chechnya and
Afghanistan, or France’s wars in Algeria and Vietnam. Why do generals
insist on believing in the fantasy that guerrilla insurgencies can be
wiped out by jets and tanks?
strong nations have tried to impose their presence and their will on
smaller nations through blunt force, believing that they could bludgeon
conquered populations into accepting occupation and rule by the
stronger nation. One by one, they have been forced to withdraw. Nowhere
have the occupied come to accept the rule of the powerful, even with
the passage of decades….
The answer to guerrilla insurgency is neither brute force nor abject
surrender and flight. There are moments in the ebb and flow of each
insurgency when militants are at their weakest and most isolated, when
the surrounding population is most willing to follow its own moderates
toward a compromise. Nations that emerge from a guerrilla war with
their honor and stature intact are those that learn to seize those
moments, wielding a supple combination of military determination, smart
diplomacy and deft timing.