IN THE NEWS
ZenPundit has an excellent post about Israel's war in Lebanon. His conclusion?
The only meaningful strategic goal here for Israel was the total
demilitarization of Hezbollah, an objective that coincided with the
national interests of not just the U.S. but that of France, and
therefore, in a languidly trailing and desultory way, the EU. The key
to that objective was Syria, not Lebanon, and making the hapless and
ineffectual Lebanese government instead of the "strong", generally
unpopular and very "targetable" Syrian regime the focus of Israeli
wrath - followed by real negotiations of things Damascus is interested
in talking about - was a mistake.
He also touches on an important question. It takes a bit of digging to figure out the answer to this one, so I've been delaying saying anything about this topic until now.
It's pretty clear that Israel's reliance on air strikes is counterproductive. However, it is not a unique failure in this campaign. During the second intifada, the ongoing struggle with Hamas, and even the stand-offs with Arafat in his compound, the Israeli Defense Forces have been increasing their reliance on airpower. For anyone who remembers the Entebbe Raid or has studied Israel's regular cross-border raids into neighboring countries, it looks as though Israel has swapped a scalpel for a meat cleaver as its military instrument of choice.
As ZenPundit argues, the installation of an Air Force officer as the IDF's chief of staff provides a partial explanation for this shift in operational methods. However, it's not the whole story. It's beyond my capabilities to provide a full explanation here today, but it's important to recognize the strategy for what it is--and how different it is from, say, the hard road Israel once traveled in tracking down and eliminating the Black September terrorists responsible for the Munich massacre. That operation may have fallen short of success, but it's preferable to bombing Lebanon into rubble.
It's also important to remember, back in the early days of the Global War On Really Bad People Everywhere And Nowhere, how the White House and top officials in the Department of Defense looked to Israel for lessons on how to handle counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. Given the IDF's increasing reliance on airpower, I worry that they drew the wrong lessons.