Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Myth Of Proportional Response

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The reason for having a strong military is to convince potential enemies not to attack you. If they attack anyway, then the reason for a strong military is to beat the (expletives of your choice) out of them. At no point is there a rational military objective for the stronger nation to have a fair fight with anyone.

Do the numbers. If Israel responds to attacks from Lebanon by Hezbollah in a proportionate manner, if both lose the same number of citizens Israel is a big loser. There are 6.3 million Israelis, there are a total of 90.9 million Lebanese, Syrians, and Iranians. “Whoa,” you may say, “wait a minute here, there are only 3.9 million Lebanese.”

“Whoa,” I say, “wait a minute yourself; everyone agrees that Hezbollah, a state within a state, attacked Israel. No one says Lebanon did. And for whom do Hezbollah toil?”

If you have a tough time answering that question, it’s probably because you have an anti-Israel agenda, and not because you don’t know that Iran supplies Hezbollah all their rockets and other military equipment and training through Syria. If Hezbollah and Israel suffer the same amount of casualties, Iran and Syria can make up Hezbollah’s losses, but Israel is significantly weakened.

So the plain facts are that Israel is fighting Iran and Syria by retaliating against their Hezbollah proxy. In that battle, Israel is outnumbered 14 to 1. What if horrific fighting breaks out, and each side (keeping Israel’s response proportionate to the provocation) loses 3 million people? Now Israel is outnumbered 28 to 1. It is easy to see that Israel can’t allow itself to get drawn into battle where they can only respond in proportion and with the same means as their aggressors. Such an Israeli battle plan would be called “Suicide.”

When Hezbollah kidnapped the two Israeli soldiers, and killed eight others, they and their leader Nasrallah were shocked that Israel would go to war over two soldiers. They must have felt that they could just keep on irritating Israel, while digging trenches and building rocket emplacements to increase their ability to conduct a low-level war of attrition. After all, it’s a lot easier and inexpensive to launch sporadic attacks at selected targets chosen from many in a large area than it is to try to defend against all attacks. When Hezbollah added larger and longer ranged rockets to their repertoire, they multiplied Israel’s defense concerns tenfold.

Hezbollah – read Iran and Syria - has left Israel only one rational choice. Destroy Hezbollah.

The United States has been left with only one rational choice. Don’t stop Israel from destroying Hezbollah.

The Lebanese don’t have any choices, anymore. They made theirs when they allowed Hezbollah to set up operations in their villages.

The United Nations don’t have any choices either. They made theirs when they watched as Hezbollah built up strength in Lebanon, often by locating right next to United Nations units.

Iran and Syria have choices. They can withdraw their support of Hezbollah, or they can escalate the fighting and have both the United States and Israel rain death and destruction upon them as soon as they cross the line.

Hezbollah gets no choices. Allah better have a lot of spare virgins.

(Inspiration for this post is Captains Quarters)

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