Israel's New Targeting
Policy - Losing The PR War

By Joel Skousen
World Affairs Brief

Even though I have long been critical of Israel's politicians, who do not really represent the best interest of Israel, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) could always be counted on - when they were allowed to fight and win (which was rare) - to assiduously avoid civilian casualties, even in house-to-house fighting. They were the best in the world. Not any more. Ever since the forced expulsion of its own Israeli citizens from Gaza settlements last year when the IDF began hiring thugs and mercenaries, something changed at the policy level and it bodes evil for Israel's reputation for a just and limited defense.
Now that the Israeli Air Force is being ordered to bomb whole towns and civilian neighborhoods in Lebanon, I sense a change in policy and objective. It is remarkably similar to the aggressive and destructive aerial tactics used by the United States in fighting Iraqi insurgents by leveling whole cities - civilians be damned - just to avoid taking casualties.
As a former F-4 pilot during Vietnam (who never saw combat) I wonder how pilots deal with the fact that they are being ordered to target civilians - when it finally becomes obvious. Military pilots are much more detached from death since they never see the face of their intended target when they pull the trigger, as do troops on the ground. Pilots only learn of their killing of innocent civilians after the fact. During their flight briefings they are never told the reason a particular target is chosen - nor are they given an opportunity to protest or question targeting decisions. It's built into the system of rigid obedience to higher authority.
The first hints of a change in Israeli targeting policy came with the bombing of the Gaza power station, followed by the bombing of Lebanese infrastructure - roads, bridges, power plants, and fuel depots - causing tremendous civilian hardship, and inhibiting people's ability to flee. Relief supplies are not safe to move. While these measures sometimes have been justified in a conventional war between whole nations, fielding large armies on the move, they do relatively little to stop a guerrilla war - the only type of warfare anyone can wage against states with vastly superior weapons.
What they do is alienate innocent people who normally have never approved of terrorist tactics. In one very bad policy move, Israeli has destroyed all the good will it may have once had among Lebanese moderates. Worse, Hezbollah is now rising in popularity among Arab nations who have tried to remain on the sidelines. Had Israel limited it's attacks to Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon, as it had many times in the past, this transformation of image and reputation would never have happened. As I pointed out in recent briefings, I feel it is a deliberate strategy and may mirror the globalist intent of the Bush administration to foment more conflict by aggressive intervention in selective nations. Conflict gives neo-conservatives an excuse to reshape world governments under globalist institutions that do not provide protection for fundamental rights of individuals or nations.
This week, King Abdullah II of Jordan warned that Israel's excessive retaliation against Lebanon, backed by the United States, has weakened moderates within the Muslim world. Moderate voices everywhere are silent in the face of Israel's ferocity in attacking civilians. He said that, "Even if Hezbollah is destroyed, the hostility toward Israel is so high that another such group could arise in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, or even in my own country ... The Arab people see Hezbollah as a hero because it's fighting Israel's aggression." Before, Arab complaints of Israeli aggression could easily be dismissed as self-serving, masking their own assaults (5) on Israel since independence was declared in 1948. But no more. The complaints now ring true, and it undermines Israel's moral authority, as well as its traditional image as an underdog struggling to survive in a sea of hostile Arabs.
Jean Daniel of the Le Nouvel Observateur [The New Observer] agrees and points out that during the initial retaliation, Arab moderates condemned Hezbollah: "[T]he Sunni allies (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt) went so far as to denounce "Hezbollah's irresponsible adventurism." But it didn't last. "Several days later, with 'eradication' in Lebanon being transformed into disasters and the razing of cities, Hezbollah's epic resistance against the IDF has become so irresistibly contagious that, under the enormous pressure of Arab public opinion, the religious authorities first of all, then the political ones (even in Riyadh!) condemned Israel and declared themselves in solidarity with the Lebanese 'people,' Hezbollah having suddenly become the sole expression of the people ... Since then, the entire Muslim world has tilted toward Hezbollah, which, after preening itself (a little quickly) on having kicked the Israelis out of the Lebanese fatherland in 2000, today reveals itself capable of resisting one of the best armies in the world so effectively and so long. Thus, having failed to conquer quickly enough or to stop when they should have, the Israelis have transformed their enemies into heroes."
What Daniel says is quite true. Israel's growing reputation as the military you "don't tangle with" has been severely degraded by the ability of Hezbollah to continue firing rockets into Israel, even as they are under heavy attack. This week saw record days of rocket assaults on Israel, exceeding 230 in a single day. Even the growing ground assault upon Hezbollah positions is showing signs of needing a lot more man-power. Israel announced a call-up of two more brigades this week, almost doubling the number of troops they are going to commit to the fight - and even that won't do the job.
Israel is suffering a form of defeat not only by losing the public relations war, but by giving Arab militants everywhere the hope that they, too, can resist Israel's mighty IDF. First, Iraqi insurgents foiled the US "victory" in Iraq, and now Israel is sinking into the same quagmire. No wonder Israel doesn't want to reoccupy Lebanon.
However, destroying Lebanon is not the answer either. This week's aerial attack by Israel on a civilian apartment building in Qana, killing at least 28 and being billed as a "massacre" has now become the photo image of choice, illustrating the evils of Israeli targeting. Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch put it straight: " I think it's important that this slight controversy over the numbers of those killed in Qana does not distract from the fact that a very brutal attack took place in Qana, a totally unjustified attack took place, and that Israel has had to backtrack significantly on its original statement. Originally Israel said that they had attacked Qana because Hezbollah was there and was firing rockets at the time of the attack. Now, Israeli officials have been forced to admit, under heavy scrutiny, that they had no information about Hezbollah present at the time of the attack or rocket firing and that Qana had simply been put on the target list, because several days before, rockets had been fired from nearby Qana.
"Giving the lie to the 'human shields' theory, [where Israel claims Hezbollah is hiding among civilians] we found numerous cases in which the IDF launched artillery and air attacks with limited or dubious military objectives but excessive civilian cost. In many cases, Israeli forces struck an area with no apparent military target. In some instances, Israeli forces appear to have deliberately targeted civilians.
"In fact, of the 24 incidents they document, HRW researchers could find no evidence that Hezbollah was operating in or near the areas that were attacked by the Israeli Air Force ... The location of Hezbollah troops and arms had nothing to do with the deaths because there was no Hezbollah around."
"And that just shows you how indiscriminate many of these attacks are. Israel is not adhering to the laws of war, because it's failing to distinguish between military objects it's entitled to attack, and civilian homes, cars and infrastructure, which it should refrain from attacking. And that's why so many civilians are dying." Bouckaert also condemned "Israel's use of cluster bombs, phosphorous weapons and depleted uranium," all provided by and resupplied by the US, which implicates America in the blame.
For more, see
World Affairs Brief August 4, 2006 Copyright Joel Skousen.
Partial quotations with attribution permitted.
Cite source as Joel Skousen's World Affairs Brief



This Site Served by TheHostPros