Sunday, July 13, 2008

Reeling to Strength

I spent my three-year military service in the mid-1970s in an IDF that was still reeling from the failures of the Yom Kippur War. I remember how in my first year or so the failures permeated everything we did, from the form our training took to the less than minimal number of hours we slept under the command of a traumatized company commander to the ethos of our sergeants who had seen the war as fresh recruits in a dazed army. The entire structure around us was committed to getting over the trauma, learning from the mistakes, and returning to the confidence of an army that knew what it was doing.

(And no, we had nothing to do with the Palestinians. In those days the Palestinian men worked in Israel and the IDF wasn't called upon to dominate them in any active way. The first Intifada was more than a decade away, and the "brutal Israeli occupation" some people so love to speak about was not yet a figment of anyone's imagination. Seen through the perspective of the present decade, it was a time of peace, or at least, a time of calm).

The stories Achikam tells me about his service often remind me of that period. He went in a year after the debacle of the 2nd Lebanon War, and joined a reeling army - but one committed to getting over it. As this article demonstrates, the reeling is over, and the recuperation is in full swing.

The changes are, of course, much deeper than merely the number of days each unit now dedicates to training. The 1990s were the decade of complacency: peace was on its way, and the need for such an expensive army had passed, we foolishly told ourselves as we slashed the military budget year after year. The beginning of this decade was the Palestinian era of the IDF: faced with an entire nation committed to terror tactics, Israel had to forge a method of beating waves of terrorists eager to die killing Jews. The pundits all told us it couldn't be done, and the pundits were all wrong, but the price was that we forgot the other enemies, and the IDF forgot how to operate as an army and concentrated (brilliantly) on counter guerrilla warfare. The war against Hezbullah served as a waking call.


Anonymous said...


Nixon was president.

And, the way Ben Gurion set up the Israel parliament, in that it is "uni-cameral" ... it's got problems where you can't shift out one set of policiticans for another. Golda was riding a dying horse, though.

And, Arik Sharon "invented" Likud. But when he tried to run by himself (in Shlom Zion), the crowds didn't come. Politics (not the IDF), really stinks in Israel.

And, American presidents? Want me to list them? LBJ tanked with the People. And, Nixon was just "so" about Jews. He had his own t'zuris, though, by 1973! And, even though he won a landslide victory in 1972 ... he faced a media circus; and resigned.

What people haven't learned so well; but politicians thrive on this stuff. Is learning how to stay in office, in spite of the fact that the "best" you can do is attract 51% of the voters. (That's, basically, the American story.)

You can also advance your story to this Bush. And, 9/11. Which was funded by the Saudis.

You also notice that the biggest change of all is a lack of real political discussions ANYWHERE! You see the attacks. But what you don't see is how politicians can deftly survive.

So? Bush got into office on a slim margin. Then the Saud's told him "they wanted a new Mideast map." And, believe this or not. Bush bought in!

Arik Sharon didn't. But if you look to see where there are things that match; you see, intead, that one side serves balls that are left alone.

In the summer of 2006 the Saud's were in full stride, again proposing what they proposed in 1992. (When voters took Poppy Bush out of office, after one term.)

The proposal then? Don't you remember? The NY Times gave this front page space. Under Thomas Friedman's byline.

Supposedly, Arafat was also going to go to this big meeting in Beirut.


This didn't stop the Saud's from coming out with the same crap, again. This time backed by America's White House.


As to the Lebanon adventure; if it wasn't tried by Arik Sharon, back in 1982, you'd never know that it didn't work. Because Arabs hate Jews. And, they have no intention, whatsover, of cooperating. So, you learned the hard way.

While, in my opinion, this Bush let all the goodwill Americans felt towards Iraqis slip through his fingers. With the point of contention? The crap he tried to pull with the Saud's.

Maybe, the expression "IT FELL ON DEAF EARS" explains how politicians learn that you don't have to "go to war." You don't even have to respond when the Saud's, for instance, said "take it or leave it."

Did you notice? That map failed on its own. It failed for Bush the same way it failed back in 1982. And, most of the world is now smarter.

Okay. Just because you don't read about it, doesn't mean your average Israeli doesn't know what's going on!

As to the policians? They are who they are. It's not a great system when you don't have TWO legislative branches; where one (like America's HOUSE), seats lots of people. And, they run for re-election every two years. But the beauty of the senate, is that it has a separate group of politicians. No. You won't see dancing. These groups rarely work together.

As to the "training" Yaacov, you didn't have computers. You didn't play with computer games when you were a small child.

Today's kids get exposed to the world in ways that didn't exist when you were growing up!

And, in the future? People won't see "warfare" when they see savages! Instead? They see terrorism. And, they are not afraid.

One of the best ways to fight terrorism, by the way, is to have a MOSSAD that can get "up close and personal."

America's FBI and CIA stinks to the high heavens. But they know all about having to deal with members of the US Congress. Why? Because that's where you'll find the purse-strings.

Are Israelis on the same page as the American public? In lots of cases, I think so. And, Americans want more robots. More drones. And, higher walls so that the savages just can't come "in" and mingle.

Bush was a bust.

But don't wait around for the conversation.

Anonymous said...


Gonen and Bar Lev were incompetent men! Golda Meir just didn't like Arik Sharon; and she was no beauty contest winner, either.

Plus, back in 1973 you had real armies with which to contend. Not this Mickey Mouse stuff that resides on the backsides of the UN midgets.

Anyway, Bar Lev, in particular, couldn't design a defensive line. Okay. "But he did." And, just like Arik SHaron said: IT WAS A FAILURE!

You do not draw one thin line in the sands! You invest in places, dig deep; and hide your handiwork.

Arik Sharon actually did dig such a place; and when the situation for Golda turned dire; Arik Sharon was allowed to run with his plans.

And, ya know what? He almost made it into Cairo! YES, HE DID! Golda was dropping her underwear, and screaming out loud. And, finally, Sharon was pulled back ... to the Suez. Which he captured.

But there's one thing the Eygptians remember from those events backin 1973. Arik Sharon "was this close to Cairo." Let that not be forgotten.

As to the crap brought to you by the UN, and the dying breed of pundits and reporters ... Remember this: THE WAY INFORMATION TRAVELS HAS CHANGED. And, lots of stuff NOW falls on deaf ears.

(Didn't fall on Richard Nixon's deaf ears, so he had to resign from office.) Meanwhile? There's no manual out there, describing how you survive the journalists. Only that Reagan did. (By turning a deaf ear.) And, Bill Clinton did, by making you laugh that his pants were around his ankles.)

The way I figure it, the "styles" of debate changed BECAUSE OF AMERICAN TV!

Let me make this clear. TV changed habits, BIG TIME.


Well, I know from my history books, that when America started out, the average guy in the street listened to long debates. Honest. Check this out. Read Lincoln's speeches. (Like the one he gave at Cooper Union. Or his Lincoln-Douglas debates.) His audiences were average Americans who were able to follow 90 minutes of talking about issues.

TV's sit com's changed these dynamics. And, they changed them while lots of people were watching TV. (And, where lots of people stopped reading the news; to have the news read to them, instead, by good looking dudes and dudettes, with POOFED hair.)

And, it all started because TV began telling small stories, in at most seven minute segments. At which point the audience would be pulled in. And, the stations changed to COMMERCIALS.

I blame all the changes on these commercials. Because the TV shows never went back to where they left off.

Which means? Ronald Reagan perfected "turning a deaf ear."

And, when you're in politics; with the general rule that the people leading aren't necessarly stellar, you can get someone as ugly as Golda, being able to pick her generals. Where what she picked was worse looking than her short hairs.

Sometimes, I think God has a real sense of humor. Because, by outcomes, it took miracles to turn the ship of state in the right direction.

This is true for the US, too.

Meanwhile, we see kids, today, learning to cope with life through computer games. And, they go by so fast; and they let the kids be in charge (instead of Golda), that probably a lot of good will come of this.

As to Hezbollah, and "the wake up call," I think the PHOTO-CHOP-SHOP of the Iranian missiles shows ya that the terrorists "aren't ready for prime time." And, they never will be.

That the Saud's didn't set a map down in the Mideast, with America's blessings?

I'm not sure. But I think Arik Sharon TOLD this Bush, that as soon as the Saud's recognized Israel's right to exist, soon there would be talking. Otherwise? The Bush got doused.

And, soon he leaves office.

Showing ya that the American presidencies can provide bookends. His Poppy didn't fair much better. And, both men get fancy hats. There have been 43 hats awarded to the men who served in the Oval Office.

Most aren't even worth mentioning.

Which has something to do with politics. Where it's much worse when your crappy leadership is a monarch. Or a despotic thug.

As to heroes, mine's Moshe Plesser. Shows ya, right there. In the streets of Jerusalem, a hero can pop out at any minute.

Really, Yaacov, the terrorists don't have the advantage! And, neither did Golda!

Whatever. If you want a "wimper" to return after the commercial break, maybe, you can begin to depend on tourists?

At some point the old voices die out. Heck, even the Vatican lost its ability to call forward progroms full of Jew Haters. And, now, they, too, have their own problems.

Nobody walks on water.

But if you want to skate on ice, wear a helmet.