What To Do? What To Do?

320pxidf_soldiers_in_hebron_2000 "The Israeli government decided Thursday against expanding its offensive against Hezbollah but called up at least 30,000 troops to begin training for duty in Lebanon."  APnews



The cabinet could not bring itself to "grasp the nettle" and to acknowledge (even to itself) that the "Halutzian" school of warfare is producing nothing but "used people."  Halutz is probably no help in coming to grips with reality.

Nevertheless, they are going to call three of their smallish reserve divisons into active duty for future service in Lebanon.

This last represents the influence of the ground force guys who know that IDF soldiers are not trained to participate in prolonged fighting.  The units now engaged in the Maroun al-Ras/Bint Jubeil salient will have to be relieved some time soon.

Pat Lang


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34 Responses to What To Do? What To Do?

  1. b says:

    I guess Halutz has only a few day’s left in his job. Fine with me. Airman, good as they come, should never lead ground forces into battle. (Maybe Boyd could have.)
    But one also should never underestimate the power of local politics in all this.
    The wrangling for the next Israeli administration did already begin. Who presents himself as strong and who as weak ect.
    Then there are such “unrelated” issues like this one.
    At 17:58 local time today JPost reported that the testiment in a sexual harressment case against Justice Minister Ramon appears reliable.
    At 18:22 it reports that Ramon calls for all out bombing of South Lebanon.
    Politics …

  2. W. Patrick Lang says:

    That would work for me. Citation?
    Of course there is always “Smiling Al” Kesselring to think of. pl

  3. john in LA says:

    My neocon friends — hot with the fight and eager to punish “Arabs” (and making no distinction between Sheikhs and starving Shia/Palestinians)want capitulation.
    There is something rather unhealthy here — they want submission, surrender, humiliation. They seem to believe (!) that by “punishing” Lebanon the country, its national government will whip together a secular/professional Sunni/Christian Army that can march into Southern Lebanon and subdue the Shia.
    But these Shia seem tough. And we have to remember that, after being crapped on for centuries, the Shia Arabs feel that this is their moment. They have a government in Iraq. Iraq! They have a quasi-government in Lebanon.
    And they have a patron in Iran. So this is very much their opportunity to hang tough and etc. They’ll make the IDF pay for every inch — and then they’ll cede it and, upon withdrawal, take it back.
    In so doing they will drive the Israelis crazy. And, perhaps more importantly, they will demonstrate their “props” to their neighboring Sunni.
    What a wiered, inarticulate policy for the United States — to simultaneously hand one of the world’s largest oil fields to a Shia government in Iraq, and then facilitate the Israeli slaughter of a weak, mostly defenseless Shia slum population in South Beirut.
    Next step: my bet is that the Shia in Iraq make their move — either take on the American supply train in Basra, or simply demand that the US begin their drawdown.
    And leave them, in partnership with the Kurds, to wrap up their Sunni problem.

  4. zanzibar says:

    I find it very interesting that the Israeli cabinet was at pains today to signal that there would be no attack on Syria and that everything should be done to avoid Syria getting dragged into the conflict.
    Is this part of the Condi?/Cheney? strategy to try and peel off Syria from the Iranian orbit?
    And does the reported meeting between Nasrallah and Assad today in Damascus mean that Bush’s on-mike comment to get Assad to get Hizballah to stop this shit working?
    Is this the opportunity for Syria and Hizballah to name their price and find a face-saving (on a PR basis) agreement for Bush to claim that he brokered the deal and is a man of peace in time for the Nov election?

  5. confusedponderer says:

    I have to dissent with your Kesselring comment.
    First joining the Imperial Prussian Army in 1904, he then joined the Royal Bavarian Army in 1905 and was trained as a balloon artillery observer. He served during WW-I as a staff officer with the Bavarian artillery. Kesselring knew ground war well.
    In the Weimar years he served in the Reichswehr, also in artillery functions, becoming battery commander in 1919, serving on in various staff functions. Only in 1933 he was eventually tasked with helping build the new Luftwaffe.
    Kesselring was not so much the airman who understood ground war but an artillery officer who understood air war and loved to fly. IMO the emphasis is important 😉

  6. b says:

    @pl Citation?
    Not sure what you are asking for.
    On the airman, ground force thoughts I have none. Just my (reality based) opinion as a former tank officer.
    On Israeli cabinet shuffling there were some opeds in called for a “unity” cabinet (meaning a more pure neocon/likud cabinet) and quite some crizisim on Olmert from peacenik camps.
    (fun detail: Olmert’s daughter protesting in front of Halutz’ house.)
    My impression: If Olmert Peretz want to survive this politicaly, they will have to send Halutz into retirement – and fast.
    On the conflict as such:
    Both sides could escalate now, but it looks like neither side wants.
    Olmert does not want to widen the conflict as the IDF (i.e. Rumsfeld) wants to. There is nothing to gain but much to lose.
    Nasrallah is in talks with Syrian and Iranian folks in Damascus and I bet they will argue to NOT shoot rockets into Tel Aviv. Nasrallah could do so, but he has no interests in doing so – neither have his sponsors.

  7. confusedponderer says:

    Second thought: If anything in the US military is capable of ‘producing’ someone with a comparable experience like Kesselring’s, then it’s the Marine Corps, having both air force and artillery components.
    The only problem might be that esprit de corps (quite literally) prevents people from considering … ‘Flying? Sir, no, Sir! I’m in the mud proudly, Sir!’. Or so.

  8. Pan says:

    At least Kesselring could mount a halfway decent defense on the ground.

  9. jonst says:

    I think it means, at the 100K ft view, that the IDF has met its Buster Douglas.
    This does not bode well for anyone interested in ‘peace’.

  10. BadTux says:

    Any guesses on when we will hear Halutz’s voice on crackly radio transmissions as he mutters about snails and knives and assassins accusing assassins?
    Airheads just don’t understand ground conflict. Never have, never will.

  11. John Howley says:

    Discussions of the endgame all seem to involve some sort of international force, possibly U.S.-led.
    Perhaps you can provide some perspective on the idea of U.S. forces becoming directly involved, on the ground, in the protection of Israel.
    Have U.S. troops ever been deployed for this purpose? If not, why not?

  12. b says:

    Let me recommend Billmon’s take on the emotional side of the issue. I agree with him.

  13. W. Patrick Lang says:

    A+. There were a few more went over to the Luftwaffe on orders, and a few offciers from the Heer who went to the Waffen SS on their own hook looking for promotion. I hope they were happy with the result. PL

  14. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Bad Tux
    Why do I visualize you as the Romanian literatus who used to do a journal in New Orleans called something like “Diseased Lotus” or something?
    “on crackly radio transmissions as he mutters about snails and knives and assassins accusing assassins..”
    Wondrous. What is it? My favorite (current) thing like that is that is “dancing in chains.” I am thinking of changing the name of the blog to that. pl

  15. Paul says:

    Any thoughts on the impact of the reserve mobilization on the Israeli economy? Is this a significant number and if so, how long can Israel sustain the cost?

  16. billmon says:

    “This last represents the influence of the ground force guys who know that IDF soldiers are not trained to participate in prolonged fighting.”
    This is what happens when your state-of-the-art blitzkrieg army becomes a relic of a past century.

  17. pbrownlee says:

    There certainly seems to be a whiff of panic in the air — but this is a helluva way to beat a sexual harassment accusation!
    Ramon has asserted that the Rome time-wasting stunt by the US SoS gave a “green light” to the Israeli adventure but “Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tumioja, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, said the Israeli government’s interpretation of the summit’s declaration as permission to continue its offensive is ‘their own and wrong interpretation’.”
    Chances of EU/NATO involvement in the imbroglio have diminished further I imagine.
    Look out for another sticky Rice stunt soonest – am I the only one that found the grins and joshing and cake eating during the SoS’s Israel meeting eerily discordant – and it certainly played badly in the Dubai news broadcast I saw when juxtaposed with the carnage in Lebanon and Gaza.
    Did you see the Daniel Gilbert NYT piece which has some interesting (and familiar) takes on the nature of conflict:
    “The researcher began the game by exerting a fixed amount of pressure on the first volunteer’s finger. The first volunteer was then asked to exert precisely the same amount of pressure on the second volunteer’s finger. The second volunteer was then asked to exert the same amount of pressure on the first volunteer’s finger. And so on. The two volunteers took turns applying equal amounts of pressure to each other’s fingers while the researchers measured the actual amount of pressure they applied.
    “The results were striking. Although volunteers tried to respond to each other’s touches with equal force, they typically responded with about 40 percent more force than they had just experienced. Each time a volunteer was touched, he touched back harder, which led the other volunteer to touch back even harder. What began as a game of soft touches quickly became a game of moderate pokes and then hard prods, even though both volunteers were doing their level best to respond in kind.
    “Each volunteer was convinced that he was responding with equal force and that for some reason the other volunteer was escalating. Neither realized that the escalation was the natural byproduct of a neurological quirk that causes the pain we receive to seem more painful than the pain we produce, so we usually give more pain than we have received.
    “Research teaches us that our reasons and our pains are more palpable, more obvious and real, than are the reasons and pains of others. This leads to the escalation of mutual harm, to the illusion that others are solely responsible for it and to the belief that our actions are justifiable responses to theirs.
    “None of this is to deny the roles that hatred, intolerance, avarice and deceit play in human conflict. It is simply to say that basic principles of human psychology are important ingredients in this miserable stew. Until we learn to stop trusting everything our brains tell us about others — and to start trusting others themselves — there will continue to be tears and recriminations in the wayback.”
    We see examples of this (and probably perpetrate them) every day – “this miserable stew” seems a fine summary of many conflict-ridden situations but if you are a superpower (or have a blank cheque/check from one) your misapprehension of your own victimhood and what you do next can be catastrophic and may help to explain the shrillness of some of thearguments to escalate just about any conflict since “failure is not an option”.
    Escalation is hard-wired into us – and must be managed.

  18. BadTux says:

    Regarding U.S. forces in Lebanon: Been there, done that, got the bleep outta there after the nascent Hizbullah blew a couple hundred Marines into rubble. Somehow I cannot see the results being different if Dear Leader sends them back in today.
    As for the snails and knives and assassins thing: Scene from “Apocalypse Now”, near the beginning:
    “This was monitored out of Cambodia. This has been verified as Colonel Kurtz’s voice.”
    COLONEL KURTZ (on tape)
    ” I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That’s my dream. That’s my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor, and surviving. ”
    “11th transmission, December 30th, 0500 hours, sector KZK.”
    KURTZ (on tape)
    ” We must kill them. We must incinerate them. Pig after pig, cow after cow, village after village, army after army. And they call me an assassin. What do you call it when the assassins accuse the assassin ? They lie.. they lie and we have to be merciful for those who lie. Those nabobs. I hate them. How I hate them…”
    Halutz and his game plan are appearing increasingly unhinged as every day unfolds. How long before he cracks entirely? I suspect that the person who says Halutz has three days max is close to correct.

  19. W. Patrick Lang says:

    It is bound to be profound. This is a major mobilization, probably 4 division equivalents so far. Combined with the shut-down of tourism, etc. this is bound to be bad economically and the US will pay for it one way or the other. pl

  20. zanzibar says:

    “Halutz and his game plan are appearing increasingly unhinged as every day unfolds. How long before he cracks entirely?” – BT
    Add that to the “sexual harrasment” thingy of Justice Minister Ramon now calling to flatten villages in southern Lebanon before IDF forces enter.
    Hopefully those with their hands on the buttons in Israel do not get so completely unhinged with rage at their war plan not going on plan that they act out genocide in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah as a guerilla force will move out of the way of those bombs but those least able to – women and children will be the unfortunate statistics.
    I believe that all sides want cessation of hostilities now and are working behind the scenes to come up with a face saving deal that appeals to their domestic politics.

  21. John in Los Angeles says:

    Wouldn’t an international force just be what the French call a “tampon” to cover the Israeli withdrawal after they’ve finished whatever they are going to do?
    And when they talk about this ingterpositional force being “robust” and ready to “fight” — well, they aren’t talking about shooting south are they?
    So what Army would like to ally with Israel in a shooting war on indigenous Shia-stan in South Lebanon?
    Motive? Means? Opportunity?

  22. BadTux says:

    My suspicion, BTW, is that the callup is to free up regular army divisions to go into Lebanon. As I noted earlier, the IDF does not appear to have entered Lebanon with anything resembling overwhelming force. More a reinforced infantry battalion than anything else, if I’m reading between the lines correctly. Apparently this strategy’s failure has now been acknowledge and Israel is preparing to enter Lebanon in force, replacing regular divisions on other borders with reservists and shifting the regular divisions to Lebanon.
    In short, Israel is shifting strategies because Halutz’s original strategy has proven utterly useless. Pounding southern Lebanon with air power and artillery has not stopped the rockets from flying and the light force sent in has been unable to secure the two small towns they announced as being “conquered” only two days ago. My suspicion is a heavy invasion, announcement of victory, then withdrawal while touting how they’d beaten Hizballah (which of course will simply step out of the way of the Israelis). Nothing accomplished, except the destruction of Lebanon as a viable state, which surely could not have been Israel’s plan… or could it?

  23. billmon says:

    “Any thoughts on the impact of the reserve mobilization on the Israeli economy? Is this a significant number and if so, how long can Israel sustain the cost?”
    I’m told the BIG financial problem is the virtual shutdown of the economy in the North. Even more than most Americans, most Israelis live paycheck to paycheck. When those paychecks stop coming, the state (Israel is still a semi-socialist welfare state) has to replace them. This could quickly run into the billions of shekals if the rocketing isn’t stopped.

  24. zanzibar says:

    Halutz: “We paid dearly, but so did Hezbollah”
    Not a good headline for cheerleaders!
    I found it interesting that in today’s reserve callup announcement the Israelis stated they will go to training initially. It would imply that the Israeli’s feel they do not have adequate standing ground forces for their plans possibly for a ground invasion. Looks like then the on-the-ground situation for the immediate future is stalemate with Israel air and artillery fire power pounding away at Lebanon with “news” reports of targets hits and mostly ineffectual rocket fire from the Hizbs.

  25. W. Patrick Lang says:

    As you know they don’t have “regulars.” The IDF was built on the Hagganah model which was derived from Kibbutznik experience of the Tsar’s army.
    The Imperial Russian Army had no career enlisted men and neither does the IDF except for technicians and a small group of trainers. They make enlisted leaders out of each conscript class. So that Sergeants major and privates were drafted together. Officer candidates are picked out of the same stream. Some are kept after a couple of years and become Halutz.
    This is about as different from out army as could be imagined.
    As a result their active units are made up of draftees and officers. Some of the officers are career people.
    This is not a professional force. pl

  26. Babak Makkinejad says:

    This explains their lack of discipline and propensity to committing war crimes casually.

  27. McGee says:

    Off-topic, but regarding your query half-way up the thread about the Romanian literary personality whom Bad-Tux’s comments brought to mind: Andrei Codrescu?

  28. W. Patrick Lang says:

    Yes!! pl

  29. b says:

    Interesting Haaretz comment that points to the oversized role of the IDF in policy making:
    Prisoners to the generals

    And this is precisely the difference between us and the others: While in all other democracies, a certain dependency of policy-makers on generals is apparent, together with attempts to reduce it, in Israel, the case is not only one of dependency but the fact that our policy-makers are held captive by the generals.
    The security policy-making process is in fact the domain of the Israel Defense Forces and the defense establishment. In the absence of non-IDF national security planning bodies, the major part of the planning – not only operational and tactical planning but also strategic and political planning – is done within the army.
    The result is that military considerations have often become more dominant than political ones. Thus, Israel’s foreign policies have come to be based on an essentially belligerent perception that favors military considerations over diplomatic ones. Violence is seen not only as a legitimate instrument in international affairs, but almost as the only means that can bring positive results.
    As a result, the chief of staff in Israel is afforded power that exceeds that of his counterparts in other Western armies. He is the one to decide on the policy recommendations that will be presented to the prime minister and his ministers. This, of course, gives him great political power.

    I find it fitting to close with words written in the 1960s by Yigal Allon, one of Israel’s few politicians who tried to both influence the shaping of the national security policy and to deal with defense issues with other than military means: “The need to defend the country against aggression, the military confrontations on the borders… the military achievements, the mass drills… all of these create an atmosphere that necessarily harbors acute social and moral dangers. The danger of the spreading of chauvinist and vulgar militarism is a real danger in Israel… The culture of arms bears with it the danger of losing social, moral and cultural values, to the point of the blurring of the nation’s image as an enlightened society… This applies to all civilians and the youth, and also military personnel, who may be intoxicated by the very charm of involvement with arms.”

  30. pbrownlee says:

    Anyone ever heard of anything like this before?
    “The voice sounded friendly enough. ‘Hi, my name is Danny. I’m an officer in Israeli military intelligence. In one hour we will blow up your house’.
    “Mohammed Deeb took the telephone call seriously and told his family and neighbours to get out of the building. An hour later, an Israeli helicopter fired three missiles at the four-storey building in Gaza City, destroying the ground floor and damaging the upper storeys.
    “Mr Deeb was on the receiving end of a new Israeli tactic of using telephone, radio and leaflets to warn Gazans of impending attacks. The army claims it is an attempt to minimise civilian casualties, but Palestinians say it is a new way of terrorising the population.
    “Raji Serrani, the director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), which has collected several examples of the tactic, described it as ‘psychological warfare’, adding: ‘Since when did Israel feel the need to warn people that they were about to bomb their homes? They are simply playing with people’s minds and inflicting a new panic in Gaza.’
    “The family of Ibrahim Mahmoud in the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza were ordered to leave their home by an Israeli intelligence officer. The officer called back one hour later to say she had made a mistake. She ended her call to Mr Mahmoud by telling him to ‘be safe’, he told the Associated Press.”
    What kind of weirdly lethal Alice in Wonderland world is this?
    “Sorry – wrong number.”

  31. Question says:

    There was talk about an international force today at the WH press conference with the Pres. Bush and PM Blair. This seems like a bad idea, especially if it involves Americans, but that’s what some are saying. How can the US avoid being put into this spot. Does the President see the downside? The politics look grim.

  32. billmon says:

    “Halutz is probably no help in coming to grips with reality”
    Well, it looks like Halutz finally cracked:
    Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, underwent a series of tests at a Tel Aviv hospital on Friday after complaining of abdominal pain.
    TV reports said the 58-year-old Halutz, who has been leading Israel’s 17-day war against Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, was also complaining of exhaustion.
    Halutz: The nabobs. I hate them. How I hate them.

  33. pbrownlee says:

    Has Halutz had a touch of the squitters? I thought this sort of thing was always the deepest of deep secrets but I am obviously wrong:
    “IDF chief Halutz released from hospital after undergoing tests
    “Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, underwent a series of tests at a Tel Aviv hospital on Friday after complaining of abdominal pain.
    “The IDF chief was later declared healthy and allowed to go home, the army said.
    “An IDF spokesman said Halutz had been taken to hospital with stomach pains and had undergone tests. He was released later on Friday after doctors found nothing wrong with him.
    “There is nothing wrong with his health,’ the spokesman said earlier.
    TV reports said the 58-year-old Halutz, who has been leading Israel’s 17-day war against Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, was also complaining of exhaustion.
    Officials at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital said he was sent home after several hours with a recommdentation that he rest and eat properly. The military said Halutz was given a clean bill of health.”
    So what exactly was the problem? Some kind of breakdown??
    Helluva way to run a “war”.

  34. ali says:

    “A well-known Israeli joke refers to civilians as soldiers on 11-month furlough.”

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