Posted by: Lister | January 13, 2009

Disproportionate force is Israeli policy

From an article dated Ocober 2008, Haaretz:

In an interview Friday with the daily Yedioth Ahronoth, [GOC Northern Command Gadi] Eisenkot presented his “Dahiyah Doctrine,” under which the IDF would expand its destructive power beyond what it demonstrated two years ago against the Beirut suburb of Dahiyah, considered a Hezbollah stronghold.

“We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction. From our perspective, these are military bases,” he said. “This isn’t a suggestion. This is a plan that has already been authorized.”

Colonel (Res.) Gabriel Siboni recently authored a report through Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies backing Eisenkot’s statements.

The answer to rocket and missile threats from Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, he believes, is “a disproportionate strike at the heart of the enemy’s weak spot, in which efforts to hurt launch capability are secondary. As soon as the conflict breaks out, the IDF will have to operate in a rapid, determined, powerful and disproportionate way against the enemy’s actions.”

[…] “Hezbollah operates under optimal conditions from our perspective. A legitimate government runs Lebanon, supported by the West, but it is in fact entirely subordinate to the will of the Shi’ite organization,” he writes.

Eiland recommends preemptive action: that Israel pass a clear message to the Lebanese government, as soon as possible, stating that in the next war, the Lebanese army will be destroyed, as will the civilian infrastructure.

“People won’t be going to the beach in Beirut while Haifa residents are in shelters,” he writes.

While Eisenkot and Siboni deal primarily with striking Shi’ite strongholds, Eiland sees Lebanon’s infrastructure as a primary target, in a plan highly reminiscent of the one proposed by then-IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz, which was eventually shot down by U.S. opposition.

Neri Zilber, at the Guardian, says it all:

It is striking how consistent, and consistently self-defeating, Israel’s coercive intentions have been. In 1993, Yitzhak Rabin, the then-prime minister, said: “If Lebanon does not want to turn back the clock and relive its bitter hours, it will have to do everything in its power against Hizbullah”. Similar statements about “turning Lebanon’s clock back 20 years” if Israeli demands weren’t met were made by former Israeli chief of staff, Dan Halutz, in 2006 as well.

[…] Moreover, to put in context the sheer obstinacy being exhibited here, it is worth mentioning that in the 2006 war, the Israeli military conducted nearly 12,000 sorties – which was more than the entire 1973 Yom Kippur war and nearly double that of the 1982 Lebanon war – and launched approximately 170,000 artillery shells – which amounted to double the number from 1973.

[…] When occupation is understood to be untenable in the long term, and an air campaign clearly ineffective in strategic terms, then what is required is less military firepower and more political nuance.

To state otherwise and attempt to bolster this chimera of “disproportionate force” with blustery rhetoric is, in Albert Einstein’s formulation, insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

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