The Death of "Shock and Awe"

Econo-Girl has decided to use this forum to continue the same kind of commentary she indulged in while on Intelink.

"Shock and Awe" is dead. The current Israeli military campaign has demonstrated that the fantasy of air power to control territory is not effective, just as the U.S. military operations in Iraq did. There is no long-distance war without casualties. The armchair ruminations of our Secretary of Defense have been disproved a second time, with a loss of momentum on the side of the Israelis.

Econo-Girl has great faith in Israeli military power and strategy. With the start of a ground campaign, Hezbollah will have a new war to fight and win. It won't be easy.

Now, before all that hate mail from military types rolls in, I have no classified knowledge of any of this. My sources are the PBS Newshour and CNN.


The Lazy Iguana said...

Hezbollah has already won. Even if the current leaders are all killed (and it is likely this will happen), they still win. Lebanon used to have a somewhat moderate government. There used to be a US Embassy, dipolmats, and established diplomatic channels.

That is all gone. Hezbollah will grow in political power. The next government will be more in line with the philosophy of Islamic Extremist groups than with moderate views.

Simply killing more people will only drive home the message of the extremeists, which is "the west hates arabs and wants to kill them all". We are proving them right.

But what do I know? Probalby nothing. I probably hate America and WANT the terrorists to win. We all know that bombs are democracy seeds. It is an established fact that the "roses at our feet" senario talked about by Rumsfield happened in Iraq. Everyting there is fine - tens or hundreds of thousands of people did NOT take to the streets in Baghdad chanting "death to America and Israel" recently. There is no civil war.

And of course my prediction in 2003 that a war in Iraq would open the door for an Iran style government to take power was total crap. That will just never happen. No way the shi'ite fundamentalist majority would vote for that!

Thanks for raising my blood pressure :)

Anonymous said...

Apparently, this was a real shock to the Israelis.

Really, though, is it a surprise? "Air Power" advocates have been making claims that they can win wars on their own since Douhet and Billy Mitchell, and so far, they haven't come to pass.

I think the Kosovo War led to real problems along these lines. After it was over, you had people like John Keegan annoucing that the had been proven wrong, and that "air power" was finally able to win wars all on its lonesome.

From what I understand, a lot of the damage done to civilian infrastructure during "Shock and Awe" still hasn't been repaired in Iraq.

The Israelis are currently talking about occupying Lebanon up to the Litani river.

In our case in Iraq, destroying civilian infrastructure made the occupation harder.

The Israelis may not suffer as much for it, since they've driven out a lot of the civilian population in southern Lebanon. (This kind of thing was what led us to go to war against the Serbs in Kossovo, of course, but we were able, in the Balkans, to decide that ethnic cleansing was okay when our allies did it.)

I don't share your faith in Israeli military power and strategy. The Israelis don't seem to have thought this fight out too well (I personally think that Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz are trying to establish a reputation for toughness, and haven't thought things out too far beyond that), and it's increasingly looking like their military prowess isn't what it used to be (perhaps because too much of Israel's military effort the last 18 years has been devoted to the military occupation of the Palestinians, who are an annoyance, but not a real challenge)...or maybe their military prowess is unchanged, and they're having trouble dealing with people who don't fight like idiots.

But I do think it's obvious that Hizballah is proving to be pretty tough. I also think that there has been a neat flip-flpping of roles: Israeli propaganda has been hysterical and braggadocious (think of Bint Jbeil, occupied one day, then retconned so that the Israelis can avoid admitting that they retreated) while Hizballah's propaganda has been fairly accurate.

The indiscriminate bombing of areas all over Lebanon (even Christian towns like Jounieh) has made people who used to hate Hizballah into fervent supporters of Hizballah, and that big oil slick caused by bombing the Jiyye oil refinery is going to have consequences across the Med.

Another thing to consider is what the Israeli casualties so far mean. A left-wing blogger has looked at this. While I take hi with a grain of salt because of his political views (and I recommend taking any political site with a grain of salt), I think that he's done a good job of analyzing the impact of Israeli casualties on the Israeli public. Losing 6 people is a much bigger deal for them than it is for us.

I doubt "Shock and Awe" is dead. It's an idea that keeps coming back-kind of like malaria does to its victims. It woudl be nice if it joined all of the other corpses being produced in Lebanon.


Anonymous said...

To my mind, the failing is not with the Rumsfeld Doctrine; it is the insistence on applying it outside the circumstances of conventional warfare.

Traditionally, the legal condition of war relies upon two or more sovereign states in conflict with one another. This condition sharply defines the parameters of the conflict; the war is with the entire enemy nation. In an anti-terrorism operation, by contrast, the enemy is not represented by any government. The people of that nation are in no way culpable for the actions of terrorists within that nation. Collateral damage in an anti-terrorism operation (as opposed to conventional war) is not merely discouraged; it represents engaging persons who were not involved in the conflict, forcing them to defend themselves. It is akin to bombing Kuwait in an operation against Iraq.

Our insistence on treating the "war on terror" as a war, and not a committed anti-terrorism campaign, may be producing bad tactical decisions. I do not know if the Israelis share our mindset, but their example does illustrate the dangers of the course we have set.

I do think Israel could have enjoyed some success, and far fewer civilian casualties, had they not embraced bombing and indirect fire as a way to reduce their own losses. Soldiers can discriminate, to some degree, between terrorists and innocent families; bombs cannot. This was a conflict which called for boots on the ground, not shock and awe.

Unknown said...

This is treason. If the enemy finds out what's on CNN, there will be nowhere on Earth for Anderson Cooper to come under fire. And now that they know about PBS, they probably hate our freedom even more.

Thanks a lot.

Anonymous said...

Shock and awe campaign does not win, at all! In the ancient past (read: Genghis Khan, Attilla the Hun, and Hannibal Barca of Carthaginian fame, et al), this might have worked. I sippose that shocj and awe would still work, if and only if, we were prepared to ruthlessly sluaghter at one fell swoop all the enemies, with no letup, for any reason, whatsoever. (Unfortunately, we all live in a "civilized" world!) Israel is no match for the animus of the fundamentalist Islamic world. (Militarily, yes, Israel is superior; but remember that is guerilla warfare, where the Number One Rule is that "There are No Rules," and human lives do not mean anything to the terrorists - apparently, it is also lately true of Israel!) The best path forward is to find a political solution. I posted some of my thoughts on my blog, an excerpt of which is below.

I am neither a Christian, nor Jewish, nor Muslim, but only a human. Is Israel a true democracy? Why should Israel be allowed to establish a "Jewish State"? Does the mere statement of a "religious state" not connote racism and second-class citizenship? What is the real difference between Israel and many other Islamic States? I fail to see a difference. Is a religious democracy better than a secular, pluralistic autocracy? Israel did not exist before 1949, and that too, because of the expediency sought by the British, the U. S., and the League of Nations. (It goes to show that by solving one problem temporarily, we are only creating another, much bigger problem.) One has to remember that Palestine existed before Israel did (though only in name) and that Jews, Christians, and Muslims coexisted there peacefully (albeit tensely) before the creation of the State of Israel.

I feel that Israel should cease trying to be a "Jewish State." By the same token, Islamic Fundamentalists, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, should learn to disarm immediately and recognize Israel as a State, not just as a "Jewish" state and that they are also its citizens. Religion has no place (absolutely none, whatsoever, in my humble opinion) in politics and world affairs. One has to ask oneself why our (U. S.) Founding Fathers called for the separation of the State and Church. If neither Israelis, nor Islamic Fundamentalists, are willing to accept each other's fundamental human rights, then the world at large must totally shun them. In this case, they should resolve their issues themselves without any interference from outside. Why should we get involved if neither of them is willing to listen to us? The way I see it, there is no difference between erstwhile slavery in the U. S. and Israeli policies toward Palestinians. Having said that, I abhor the fundamentalist violence in the Middle-East. We are only fanning those parochial flames and making the problems much worse by interfering. We are not achieveing the much desired/ballyhooed, long-lasting peace in the world, because of our terribly myopic view on issues.

Anonymous said...

Could you please change your blog settings to show comments (by expanding and collapsing) on the same webpage, rather than on a pop-up window? Thanks!
A. U. American.

Anonymous said...

Why should Israel be allowed to establish a "Jewish State"?

The state of Israel is not exactly a "religious" state.

Anonymous said...

The state of Israel is not "exactly" a "religious state?! Would you be
sufficiently kind to pardon my ignorance and explain it to me as to what it is
A. U. American

Anonymous said...

CC - I think your unshaken faith in Israeli military prowess and strategy is taking a bit of pounding and a reassessment is in order. I would suggest you take a look at Pat Lang's blog at http://turcopolier.typepad.com/ . Col (Ret) Lang's analysis so far has been dead on, and it's not a pretty picture if your sympathies are with the Jewish State.

Econo-Girl said...

Anon, good link there about the MidEast conflict. Definitely sounds like an informed opinion.

CC's sympathies are with Israel. I mean, what are they supposed to do with people suicide bombing them and kidnapping their soldiers? The Palestinian state wants independence? Then support yourselves. A handout nation cannot be an independent nation.

Anonymous said...

CC - if you want to talk about handout nations, let's talk about all the $$$ the US sends Israel every year.

Anonymous said...

I'm certainly not an authority on that region but it seems to me that Israel gets the money because Israel, for a long time, was the US's source in the Middle East. It can usually be depended on to parrot US foreign policy.

Reference to the "Jewish state" is a propaganda effort to make it appear sympathetic.

I'm open to correction on this. As I said, that is not my region. I could be way off-base.

Econo-Girl said...


Yes, Israel gets a lot of our money each year. But they do have a standalone economy, unlike the Palestinian Authority.

Econo-Girl said...

A.U. American, changed the comment settings.

Anonymous said...

CC - The PA is not a real state, rather another bantustan. In order to be a real state, it would have total control over its economy, government, freedom of movement. It has none of these.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for changing the settings - much appreciated! On another note, we (the U. S.) should financially support neither Israel, nor Palestinians, other than for strictly humanitarian reasons. An interesting observation made by one of the bloggers on the web (I cannot rememberexaclty who posted it) - the U. S. has not sent any humanitarian aid to the Lebanes, while Hezbollah is providing $12,000 for each homeowner, whose home was detsroyed. Guess who is collecting all the goodwill?

A. U. American.

A. U. American.