Friday, July 9, 2010

Hezbullah Prepares for War. As does Israel

Jonathan Campbell recently asked in the comments section here if it might not happen that Hezbullah would hide under an Iranian nuclear umbrella, shoot endless missiles at Israel, while Israel wouldn't be able to hit back effectively because of universal condemnation.

While I was preparing to respond, the IDF changed the picture a bit, by releasing piles of extremely detailed military intelligence about Hezbullah's war preparations. Much of the documentation tells about how Hezbullah is carefully placing most of its ammunition and positions next to schools, between homes, and so on.

There is a danger in such a move, as it alerts Hezbullah to the extent of Israel's penetration into their systems. There's a potential advantage, in that Israel preempts the next Goldstone report that will inevitably claim that no evidence could be found that Hezbullah was sheltering among civilians. When the next war happens, we'll be able to link to today's reports - for whatever that will be worth.

The real significance of the move, as I understand it, is that Israel is announcing clearly to all who need to know (decision makers, foreign military and intelligence agencies, but not the media at all) that when the next war comes, we know exactly where to hit. That's the answer to Jonathan's question, I think: there is no scenario in which anyone wages war on Israeli civilians, certainly not with the lethality that Hezbullah has amassed, and they survive. After the war is over, and southern Lebanon lies in smoking ruins, we'll have to deal with the global tsunami of opprobrium. Yet as I often repeat on this blog, Jews can live with universal opprobrium; they've got lots of practice, and anyway, it won't be all that universal, for all the appearances. It's the systematic attacks on Jewish lives we won't stand for, not in the mid- or long term.

The truly odd thing about all this is that the campaign to deny Israel its right to self defense has created a situation where Hezbullah's main strategy is to have lots of Lebanese civilians killed. In all the annals of warfare - and they're long, them - I don't think there has ever been anything like it. Put pithily: The Guardian is going to get lots of Lebanese civilians killed.

Any way, here are lots of links, for future use:
Here, and here, and here, and here, and here and here. Some of those links are about Hezbullah smuggling in weapons by sea - something to think about in the context of blockading Gaza.

11 comments:

NormanF said...

Israel will raze Lebanon to the ground and leave nothing for its people and Hezbollah to survive on. And it will leave the task of rebuilding what is left of Lebanon to the world.

Yes, it won't pretty but if it comes down to a choice between Israel and Lebanon's survival, there is no doubt which one it will be.

Cato the Elder summed up the policy as the one Romans ruthlessly used to wipe out Carthage forever: "delenda est."

Hezbollah has been warned about what the consequences of an attack upon Israel would be. They would make a mistake in drawing the wrong lesson from Israel's inept and confused performance in the last war.

Silke said...

compared to last time around there is alas an extra conundrum:

UNIFIl is there, sitting on and keeping safe Hezbollah's arsenals or a lot of Hezbollah's arsenals and providing a safe corridor or part of a safe corridor for weapons' "import" and whatever else.

http://yalibnan.com/site/archives/2008/06/14/unifil%20-%20map.gif

unless of course they should happen NOT to cooperate with UNDOF.

So how to deal with the border region is more tricky than just weathering the "usual" condemnations. Maybe that's why the IDF has posted its impressive videos.

Let's hope that there's a plan behind this openness and that it was hatched with Admiral Mullen during his recent visit?

Empress Trudy said...

It won't matter if the IDF has video proof of Hezbollah senior staff wiring up WMD themselves while they chant "Death to all Jews". Jews are never allowed to shoot first or second or third. Jews are not allowed to shoot. There's no point in even debating the point. The UN, EU, the Arabs and now Obama have a million Richard Goldstones waiting on the bench to print their 'reports'. It would not matter if Hezbollah launch nerve gas at Tel Aviv and killed 50,000 Israelis. No one would intervene and the first last and only condemnation would be for Israel to not respond in any way.

Empress Trudy said...

It won't matter if the IDF has video proof of Hezbollah senior staff wiring up WMD themselves while they chant "Death to all Jews". Jews are never allowed to shoot first or second or third. Jews are not allowed to shoot. There's no point in even debating the point. The UN, EU, the Arabs and now Obama have a million Richard Goldstones waiting on the bench to print their 'reports'. It would not matter if Hezbollah launch nerve gas at Tel Aviv and killed 50,000 Israelis. No one would intervene and the first last and only condemnation would be for Israel to not respond in any way.

JG Campbell said...

Thanks, Yaacov, this is helpful.

But I was assuming a more widespread regional war in which Israel is fired on by a range of enemies: Hamas, Hizbollah, Syria, and perhaps Iran itself.

Such a scenario could be ignited if Israel tries to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities in the next year or two. Or if it doesn’t, the protection afforded by Iran's nuclear umbrella may well encourage Israel's enemies to spark a conflict on the pretext of some minor incident, confident that the Realpolitik of the situation after Iranian nuclearization would mean that Israel would be isolated politically and militarily by most countries and subjected to the usual media poison.

If such a war continued for 3 or 6 months, the media, political, and military pressure on Israel would be unimaginable, especially if it was unable to resupply itself with arms because of an embargo supported by the UN, EU, and maybe even the US.

In other words, although it would take longer, Israel would find itself in an impossible situation rather like Georgia vis-a-vis Russia recently, except that the bit of sympathy in Western media for Georgia would be larglely absent in Israel’s case.

Faced with almost universal media opprobrium, international political isolation, and lack of arms, how could Israel avoid capitulating to its enemies in the long run?

Maybe I’m being unreasonably negative in thinking that such a scenario is a real possibility in the next few years. Or perhaps it’s just unthinkable that any US president would let Israel go under in this way.

But from where I’m sitting here in the UK, I’m not so sure.

Best,
Jonathan

Judith said...

If you don't mind, can we have Israeli lives instead of Jewish lives? I don't rate my fellow citizens lives more or less highly by their religion and no state should.

Anonymous said...

Judith
what you wish for is nice but "they" are after Jewish lives, the non-Jewish who will suffer from their attacks will be negligeable by "their" measure

Alas in real life anyone with hostile intent can force one individual or group or state to adapt because either you resist the aggression or you "turn the other cheek"

and as long as an Arab MK sounds off in the US like this guy I am all for Jews thinking in matters of self-defence of Jewish lives first and second and third and considering the inclusions of others always with an eye on whether it enhances their security.
(and that even though I am an agnostic to all that religious and ethnic and identity etc etc. stuff - I have none of it, all I have is a passport, but then I have the good luck to live in an area and in circumstances where I can indulge such a luxury).

http://itunes.apple.com/de/podcast/interview-palestinian-mk-dr/id305982905?i=82842708

Silke said...

the German summary of this study by a science journal
http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/spq-25-2-65.pdf
lets me guess that the psychos have finally found something which lets them "equalize" perpetrators and victims by claiming science tells them that both are lacking the same skill.

- if that catches on as a new wisdom I predict that Israelis will soon have to apologize to Hamas for any of their rockets that lands in Israel

Yaacov said...

Jonathan,

Israel's military doctrine since the 1950s has consistently been predicated on the assumption that the UN will force a cease fire sooner rather than later. It may take a week, or two, or a month, but no longer. This means the punch has to come as soon as possible. It also reinforces the dynamic: the international community will never again allow a 6-day-war-like complete victory. Once Israel is clearly winning, the cease fire is decreed. Since getting hit by Israel hurts, even non-state actors such as Hamas in 2009 accept, at least for a while. So I don't see your scenario happening.

The 2nd thing is that by all measures I can see, public ones and non-public, the IDF has corrected most of its failings of 2006, and is far better prepared now than then. The "leaking" of this data is part of that: this time we know where the underground bunkers are, and have plans to destroy them, where in 2006 we were mostly not even aware of their existence and lacked credible means to do something about them once we found them.

Lots of bad things can happen, but your scenarios seem to me implausibly glum.

Anonymous said...

" this time we know where the underground bunkers are, and have plans to destroy them,"

so Ehud Barak telling his US-audience at the Washington Institute? that they would bust bunkers contained the message I guessed all along
http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC07.php?CID=515

Silke

PS:
the edited transcript reads a bit mangled but in the talk it came across quite clear http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/html/pdf/EhudBarak.pdf
"We cannot accept it. We cannot accept these artificial differentiations between the terrorists of
Hizballah and the state of Lebanon and their sponsors. And we keep saying, we do not need any conflict there;
we will not lead it toward one. But if attacked, we will not run [after] or chase any individual Hizballah
terrorist—and they are in fact building and digging within the urban concentration, inside the cities, inside the
civilian population, and these weapons that they have mainly cannot be used against any military target. They are
not accurate enough—the only conceivable use of most of those weapons is against civilian populations in heavily
urban concentration, and that’s what they tried to do in the past.

So we make it clear: we don’t need this conflict but if it is imposed upon us, we will not run after every
individual terrorist but we will take both the Lebanese government and other sources of sponsorship, but mainly
the Lebanese government and the Lebanese infrastructure, as part of the equation facing us.

JG Campbell said...

Thanks, Yaacov. What you say makes sense and encourages me a little. So I may allow myself to be a bit less depressed!

Best wishes,
Jonathan