Monday, May 07, 2007

Strategic vs. Evocative

This opinion:-

Israel can't pretend anything away. In a world in which so many openly seek its destruction - while others secretly long for the same thing - Israel is going to have to play flawless political chess. That means giving up the spaces on the board that don't help it checkmate its enemies.


is rampant among seemingly well-wishers of Israel.

I found it in an oped, WHAT TO GIVE UP, by Ralph Peters.

He makes a few good points, like:-

No matter how self-destructive and murderous Palestinian behavior may be in Gaza, how nakedly corrupt Palestinian leaders are, or how hypocritical Arab governments remain, the global left will always make excuses for them, while blaming Israel for every boil on a terrorist's backside.


and

so why should Israel surrender any land to its enemies, if it gets in return nothing but empty promises and more security problems?


His approach is that:-

In this unjust world, Israel will be forced to make very difficult choices. Some of the toughest will have to do with the land it must surrender to thugs who'll turn it into yet another patch of self-made Arab misery. And there's a very real danger that, for internal political reasons, a future Israeli government will make faulty decisions.


His conclusion?

ISRAEL must be severely pragmatic, distinguishing between strategic terrain and evocative terrain - between those stretches of land critical to security and those whose appeal is purely emotional.


Well, actually, that phrase strategic vs. evocative terrain reads well but then he begins to go fanatic:-

Israel's internal enemies are the rogue, extremist settlers who invoke a real-estate-magnate god to occupy West Bank territory that the state doesn't need and can't digest - and whose seizure plays into the hands of Israel's foes and complicates the support of her all-too-few friends.


Actually, without those "territories" Israel is extremely vulnerable in its security field as well as its water resources, those underground acquifiers.

And this remark is really nasty:-

Yet the fateful evolution of the Israeli parliamentary system has made those who return the least benefit to Israel - who drain its resources and give nothing back - into political kingmakers.

Jews who insist that their god cares more about a plot of bedeviled dirt than the reverence in their hearts are behaving like Arab militants (complete with the intolerance). No religious text is a valid deed.


and

Don't get me wrong: Jerusalem belongs to Israel...But when it comes to strategic terrain, forget about Hebron - the West Bank town that's home to less than 1,000 Israeli settlers, and well over 100,000 Palestinians. It's just one of the many settlements that hurt Israel's security instead of helping it.


So, what do we keep (as if anyone really would 'permit' us to do anything we really need?

Israel can never surrender the Golan Heights. We might as well be honest about it. Syria repeatedly - three times - attacked Upper Galilee from the Golan. Three strikes and you're out.


But what about Syria?

Syria's a phony state, anyway, its borders drawn to please France. Israel has administered the Golan longer - and far better - than post-independence Damascus did. Borders change. Get over it.


Ah, their borders can change but Israel's can't? Am I missing something here? Logic? Rational thought?

And he goes on:-

traditional strategists have it wrong. They claim that whoever holds the mountainous "spine" running down through the West Bank controls the land that now comprises Israel. But Israel's survival and victorious wars disprove that "law."


I don't agree. But then he comes back with his strategic treasure:-

What matters is control of the lines of communication - the roads - that enable Israel to shift military forces rapidly, and the control of foreign borders across which weapons can be infiltrated.

Thus, control of the Jordan Valley and its vital north-south highway is essential. The string of hilltop settlements east of Jerusalem that dominate the direct route to Jordan can never be given up.


Oh, those communities are not negotiable and will be agreed to?

But he's really off the wall, or road, here:-

And the recently floated scheme to swap Arab towns in northern Israel for part of the West Bank is madness - it would cost Israel control of a militarily vital highway from the coast into Galilee.


And what's his view "in short"?

...there are vital locations within the West Bank. They're just not the ones obsessing the fanatics who shame their faith. If Israel doesn't do a cold- blooded analysis of what it truly needs to retain, the world will ask too much, its government will make decisions based upon political pressure rather than military necessity - and the result will be a far-worse mess than the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip created.


My thoughts?

Peters isn't thinking strategically and there's more starategy that evocativeness to the regions of Judea and Samaria than he can perceive.

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