Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Republican blogger was wrong to show disrespect for American soldiers and marines

I was rather surprised today to see a wrong-headed and misinformed attack on American fighting men and women by a well-known Republican blogger in Virginia who calls himself "The Republitarian." In his post "Israelis fight to win," this blogger has the following to say about the American soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen serving our nation in combat overseas:

"If our military would have gone into Iraq and Afganistan with the same ferocity
that the Israelis fight with, both wars would be over."

That statement is both false and extremely disrespectful to the men and women who serve in the United States' military, and the Republican blogger should blush to have written it--even in ignorance, as surely it was. The United States' military is the most powerful and professional fighting force the world has ever seen and I would match its fighting spirit against any other military in the world, including the vaunted Israeli Defense Force ("IDF"). In 2003, the U.S. military crushed Saddam Hussein's still numerous forces in a matter of hours. As recently as 2006 the IDF, for all its heavy equipment, was unable to dislodge Hezbollah fighters from their positions along the Israeli-Lebanese border even after a month of fighting.

The reality is that this is not your grandfather's IDF. The contemporary IDF has shown itself extremely reluctant to accept casualties. In recent years, actions in Lebanon have shown an IDF that seems reluctant to close with and grapple with its enemies. This is in marked contrast to the continuing high morale of the American military even as it has been asked to accept losses that could have been prevented by better equipment or planning.

As for the current fighting in the Gaza Strip, let me say that there is nothing particularly heroic or "ferocious" in the way the IDF has chosen to fight. So far, the IDF has restricted itself to killing almost defenseless enemies with guided weapons delivered by helicopter gunships and fighter jets. The Hamas fighters in Gaza have no heavy weapons, no anti-aircraft defenses to speak of, and no guided weapons other than perhaps a few small anti-tank weapons.

The Hamas fighters in Gaza deserve to be attacked in retaliation for their rocket attacks on Israeli civilians, but let's not kid ourselves. Standing off at a great distance and killing your defenseless enemy with a push-button operated guided missile might be necessary at times, but it is far from what most people would consider heroic.

As for the "ferocious" IDF, where is it? Apart from the handful of IDF personnnel operating the American-made guided weapons crushing Hamas, the IDF is doing very little. The contemporary IDF has no stomach for the kind of casualties it would take if it actually engaged Hamas in street fighting. There has been no lightning combined arms assault of the kind that made the IDF among the most feared fighting forces in history. As a result, Hamas is being given the opportunity to dig in and prepare itself if actual fighting becomes necessary. But given the IDF's reluctance to take casualties, the more dug in and fortified Hamas can make itself, the less likely an Israeli ground offensive actually becomes.

So much for the IDF's vaunted "ferocity."

No comments: