Here’s a quote which caught my eye this week from a Haaretz story about IDF units preparing for another possible round against Hezbollah:
When you stick an [Israeli] flag [on enemy territory], there’s no question who won,” says a high-ranking officer who requested anonymity. “You need to seize a geographic space. This is the only way the concept of victory can be established.”
I couldn’t disagree more. I think this is very old-school thinking, and quite meaningless in a wired world, where everyone is fighting for the perception of victory, for that very special victory shot that will go viral on YouTube and will be played over and over on the satellite TV channels.
For Hezbollah it would be a massive victory (victory shot) if they managed to plant their yellow flag on top of the municipal building in one of our northern towns, for instance. For them, conquering Israeli territory has massive PR value, as they, and the Arab world, would see it as liberating stolen Muslim land from a powerful enemy. Israeli forces will have to work to deny Hezbollah this victory, if they ever dared cross our border and raid a town.
But what does placing a flag on top of a poor, bombed out building in a southern Lebanon village give us? The perception of victory? Rubbish. It strengthens the
perception of us an invaders on massive tanks, as occupiers, as killers of civilians, of women and children. And to hold a Lebanese village and to keep our flag on a building there will cost us men and treasure. Just look at the 18 years we spent in southern Lebanon, and the ‘victory’ we announced on the Lebanese village of Bint Jebel in the Second Lebanon War. Taking Bint Jebel gave us nothing.
Instead of focusing our efforts on capturing territory and planting Israeli flags on top of Lebanese buildings, (those images will do nothing for our standing around the world and will not increase sympathy for our cause) we should rather focus on killing terrorists, or better yet, capturing them alive.
That “there must be no question who won” next time, a directive given to all army officers who will have to tangle with Hezbollah next time, is a valid and legitimate goal [even though nobody has actually won a clear-cut war since the Vietcong defeated the US Army]. But the way to do it is not to flatten villages and plant flags on bombed out buildings. That thinking is very 2006, if not 1982. The way to do it is hit the terror leadership, capture the rank and file, and show them for what they really are: just flesh and blood men who have dragged the Lebanese people into yet another war, under the orders of the mullahs in Tehran.