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Saturday, May 17, 2008

How not to deal with counterinsurgencies

Caroline Glick has read up on fighting counter-insurgencies, and she says that Israel is doing everything wrong and has been since 1993 when the Oslo Declaration of Principles was signed.
As Galula explained, one of the main advantages that insurgents have over the governments they seek to overthrow is their lack of responsibility for governance. Far from seeking to govern the local population, the goal of insurgents is simply to demonstrate through sabotage, terror and guerrilla operations that the government is incapable of keeping order. And it is far easier and cheaper to sow disorder and chaos than to maintain order and secure public safety.

In Hizbullah's case, Nasrallah and his Iranian bosses have no interest in taking on responsibility for Lebanon. They don't want to collect taxes. They don't want to pick up the garbage or build schools and universities.

Hizbullah and its Iranian overlords wish to have full use of Lebanon as a staging area for attacks against Israel and the US. They wish to maintain and expand Hizbullah's arsenals. For this they need unfettered access, and if necessary, control over Lebanon's borders, its seaports and airport.

They need to raise and train Hizbullah's army and cultivate Hizbullah's loyal cadres among Lebanon's Shi'ites to fight Israel. And so they need to cultivate loyalty and dependency among Lebanon's Shi'ites to use their villages as launching pads for attacks on Israel, as cover to hide from Israeli counterattacks and as recruitment centers to fills their lines with fighters.

Over the past week, Hizbullah secured this freedom through its successful attack on the Saniora government. Today no one will utter a peep of complaint as Hizbullah imports ever more sophisticated weapons systems from Syria and Iran. No one will say a word when Hizbullah openly asserts control over the border with Israel, or places its commanders in charge of Lebanese army units along the border.

Galula argues that the primary goal of insurgents in the early stages of their long campaigns is to secure the support of the local populations. In light of this, it could be claimed that by attacking the Saniora government and its supporters, Hizbullah was acting against its interests. But we are no longer in the early stages of Hizbullah's insurgency. At this advanced stage of its game, Hizbullah considers the sentiments of Lebanese Druse, Christians and Sunnis irrelevant. None has the power to challenge its primacy.

HIZBULLAH'S REFUSAL to take responsibility for the country that it effectively controls confounds the logic that has guided Israeli governments since 1993. From the onset of the "peace process" with the PLO in 1993, through the IDF's withdrawal from South Lebanon in 2000, to Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 to the Olmert-Livni-Barak government's current transfer of control over the Palestinian cities in Samaria to Fatah militias and curtailment of IDF counterterror operations in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, successive Israeli governments have argued that Israel can compel its non-state foes - the Palestinians and Hizbullah - to end their asymmetric warfare and take responsibility for public order by retreating.

The repeated assertion is that once Hizbullah and the Palestinians were placed in charge of territory, and didn't have Israel to kick around anymore, they would transform themselves from insurgents into respectable civilian authorities that would be compelled to abandon war in favor of building economies and keeping public order.

The basic problem with this Israeli strategic assertion is that it ignores the basic interests of the other side. Hizbullah and the Palestinians have no interest in instilling order in the territories they wrest from Israeli control. They wish to use those territories to continue their war against Israel and use the local populations to advance their war efforts. To the latter end, their aim is not to develop local economies but to foster dependency among the local population. The only ones permitted to become prosperous in areas they control are their senior officials. The masses are made dependent on the insurgents for their basic welfare services. And through the provision of welfare, the insurgents indoctrinate the locals to their cause. That is, successive Israeli governments have failed to recognize the simple fact that the absence of Israeli control on the ground can no more compel Hizbullah, Hamas or Fatah to act responsibly and peacefully than the hapless Saniora government can compel Hizbullah to accept its authority.

Galula explained that the starting point of all insurgencies is finding and advancing a political cause or ideology. "The best cause for the insurgents' purpose is one that by definition can attract the largest number of followers and repel the minimum of opponents," he wrote.

In both Lebanese and Palestinian societies, and indeed throughout the Arab world, that cause is the destruction of Israel.

Recognizing the inherent hostility of its enemies' cause, until 1993 Israel used classic counterinsurgency tactics to defeat them. It sought to instill order in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and in its security zone in South Lebanon and to a large degree, it succeeded. The Palestinian uprising of 1987 was fairly tame and by 1991, it was defeated and discredited. South Lebanon, under Israel's security umbrella and controlled by the South Lebanese Army, was the most prosperous area in civil war-wracked Lebanon.

But then the Israeli peace movement took over. At base, its goal is to legitimize the cause of Israel's enemies, delegitimize Israel's own cause and so force the government and Israeli society to capitulate to our enemies in the interest of "peace." By 1993, the peace movement had asserted its ideological preeminence over Israel's governing classes and so inserted Israel directly into the trap of insurgent ideology.

Galula explained, "The [insurgent] cause must be such that the counterinsurgent cannot espouse it too or can do so only at the risk of losing his power." Israel cannot successfully embrace its enemies' cause because their cause is Israel's destruction. Yet that is essentially what Israel has done for the past 15 years.

IN THE Palestinian case, the thinking has been that Israel can compel the Palestinians to accept its right to exist by giving the Palestinians a state. Yet here too, Israel has failed to acknowledge the nature of its enemies or the rationale of their cause. Both the Palestinians and Hizbullah are supported by states whose support for them stems from what is perceived as their role as the vanguards of the global jihad. Israel is perceived by Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others as the Little Satan who must be destroyed in order to bring down the Great Satan - America.


On the surface, Hamas's takeover of Gaza from Fatah militia tends to argue against Galula's thesis. If Hamas wants to sow chaos then why did it run for office and so presumably tether itself to territorial and economic responsibilities? The fact is that neither Fatah nor Hamas have used their control over territory and local populations to facilitate order. To the contrary, under both Fatah and Hamas, the Palestinian Authority has refused to accept responsibility for anything. It has required Israel and the West to finance, feed and care for its population while it builds terror armies and indoctrinates Palestinian society to the cause of Israel's destruction. If in Lebanon the central problem is that the Saniora government is no match for Hizbullah, in the PA the central problem is that everyone is Hizbullah. And in the unlikely event that Fatah's leaders were to accept Israel's right to exist, Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas has far less power to take action against Hamas than Saniora has against Hizbullah.
Read it all.


At 2:13 AM, Blogger NatetheGrate said...

There you go, Carl, you're getting it. The biggest obstacle to peace in the Middle East is that most Arab nations don't want it, no matter what Israel does. That's why they teach their kids to hate Jews. Read Views from the Left Coast (http://viewsfromtheleftcoast.blogspot.com) to see my thinking on the subject.

At 7:33 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

The only real solution to Arab terror is a military solution. But the Israeli peace movement has indoctrinated Israel's elites with the belief that if Israel restrains the IDF, the Arabs will reciprocate. The Arabs have indeed reciprocated - just not in the way Israel's peaceniks imagined.


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