U.S. Military Assistance and the LAF

A reader, Emile Hokayem, contributes this commentary in response to recent discussions about U.S. military assistance. Emile is a non-resident fellow at the Stimson Center.

The starting point of any discussion on the LAF and its needs must begin with an honest assessment: it is a dysfunctional and inefficient organization that has no vision, no serious doctrine, no strong leadership, etc. And after its passive behavior during the Hezbollah takeover of May 2008, does anyone doubt that significant swaths of the population have trust issues with the Army? If anything, it is in the image of the country. The reality is one of an overstretched force, poor managerial and strategic skills at the top, inadequate equipment and training and perennial concerns about force cohesion.

Understandably, most Lebanese like to think otherwise because they need to hold on to something that unifies them and makes them proud and the LAF is that thing. But such emotions cannot be the starting point of a policy that aims at building up a serious military that can provide for the security of the country.

The Lebanese complain about US military assistance because complaining can be done at zero-cost and is politically expedient, but anyone who has any notion of defense reform and modernization, especially in weak countries like Lebanon, and has worked with the LAF knows that the US is a secondary problem. Of course, the US will continue to deny Lebanon high-tech weaponry and other cool toys we would love our soldiers to handle, but that is missing the real point.

Here is an analogy that could help:

It may be true that the QME (Qualitative Military Edge, the Pentagon’s fancy term for saying that it will not provide weaponry to Arab allies that would given them an edge over Israel) is a problem, but right now the LAF is a broken car, with a shaky steering wheel, windows that don’t go up or down, no reliable brakes, no possibility of speeding or slowing down at will, no ability to safely negotiate steep curves, only a functioning AC and nice leather seats in which an officer can sit and parade around in, and the QME is that big hole a hundred kilometers away.

A sense of perspective is in dire need here, lest we Lebanese want to continue making fools of ourselves.

Elias Muhanna says it is all about image, and he is right – we need to create the perception that the LAF is a competent and capable force so that the country has something to hold on to, and cool toys may do just that. But if is about that and just that, then let’s drop the pretense that we are having a serious discussion about defense modernization and let’s stop blaming the Americans for the support they are providing, however inadequate it may seem.

In the absence of a Lebanese national security strategy, a defense doctrine, a division of labor between LAF and ISF, a better chain of command, procurement, training and HR policies, reorganization of the force (do we really need mechanized brigades? can we pay engineers to fly Apaches? can we train Lebanese technicians to maintain the F16s we dream of?) etc, let’s be thankful that the Americans are helping us with mobility, communication, ammunition and training. No one else is doing it at this scale, albeit a modest one compared to the LAF needs. Could or has anyone else provided the kind of crucial help that the LAF needed during Nahr el-Bared?

The fundamental problem is that we are nowhere close to defining our defense strategy. Hezbollah does not want a serious discussion about its weapons, much less a defense strategy. It wants to set it, and enroll the LAF and the rest of the country in it. The Syrians don’t want it either. When they were occupying Lebanon, did they bother to turn the LAF into a better army or did they turn chunks of it into an instrument of domestic control? The IDF is happy with a heavy Lebanese military that can be bombed from the air and scared into not doing anything. The Lebanese officers want their army clubs and SUVs and benefits. The Lebanese MPs don’t even know the size and breakdown of the defense budget (all they have is the number of the MI officer in their region for some wasta). There is no professional civilian staff at Yarze.

In the best of all worlds, we would have a serious defense review that would conclude that we need a military fashioned à la Hezbollah – special forces, light infantry, officers and NCOs that have a sense of initiative, good communication, anti-tank weaponry, good intelligence and reconnaissance assets, some helicopters, coastal radars, even air defense at some point – but hopefully without the thousands of rockets and missiles that Hezbollah deploys. Such a force would do a far better job at protecting Lebanon at a much cheaper cost, and the QME would not be an insurmountable problem. But poking fun at the Americans, it seems, is too good a game to face reality.
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48 thoughts on “U.S. Military Assistance and the LAF

  1. “let’s be thankful that the Americans are helping us with mobility, communication, ammunition and training.” Yes, let’s be thankfull for the 1960s out-of-service tanks, the overused Hummers and some takie-walkie equipments.

    “Could or has anyone else provided the kind of crucial help that the LAF needed during Nahr el-Bared.” It seems that our non-resident fellow (hopefully he will get a residency some where) is unaware that the party that helped the attacks on Nahr el-Bared the most is Syria. The bombs that were shipped from Egypt under Washington’s orders were useless and costed big money, although US propangadist were saying in Beirut and elsewehere that it was free.

    “that we need a military fashioned à la Hezbollah – but hopefully without the thousands of rockets and missiles that Hezbollah deploys.” Brilliant military doctrine!

    Posted by Jihad | January 12, 2010, 11:30 am
  2. The only and best defense for Lebanon against outside forces is a strong alliance with the US. The US got the Syrians out and are keeping them out. The US limited the damage in the 2006 war to mostly Hezbollah affiliated areas. The US is the only country that can limit both Syrian and Israeli “aggression”.

    That is the best Lebanon can do given the state that it is in.

    Posted by AIG | January 12, 2010, 12:37 pm
  3. Sacred cows are a recipe for disaster and the above post by Mr. Hokayem provides an excellent start to a serious discussion that should have started decades ago.
    One of the gems that the post touches upon is the need to make a distinction between ISF and the LAF. The LAF seems to have no function except to duplicate the ISF. If the function of the army is to maintain domestic security then there is no need for an army and all the paraphernalia that is geared to fight and deter an aggressor.
    Lebanon needs a well trained, disciplined and an effective small force that can be deployed rapidly.
    I had an opportunity to learn from a well connected person about the sorry state of organization and preparedness of the ISF. I have no reason to believe that the LAF is in a better shape. To set a goal without a detailed plan is a wish and remember that pigs don’t fly no matter how hard you wish them to.

    Posted by ghassan karam | January 12, 2010, 12:42 pm
  4. Ghassan,
    What you say makes a lot of sense and I am sure that Hokayem would agree with you. The problem with your direct and clear approach is the following. Hezbollah has managed to make a “defense strategy” as an accepted part of the conditions of giving up its weapons. Therefore, you must address this issue even though Hezbollah knows that Lebanon can never come up with one. Hokayem addresses the issue by saying that the LAF will look like Hezbollah. For PR purposes it is a good position.

    Posted by AIG | January 12, 2010, 12:56 pm
  5. “The only and best defense for Lebanon against outside forces is” blah blah blah…

    … says AIG, the same guy who wrote in a previous comment [#73 News and Notes – January 6, 2010]:

    “This is not a position acceptable to Zionists.”

    So AIG’s sweet talk and generous advice to Lebanese people – “Goyim”, as he also wrote – sounds to me like the French fable : Le Corbeau et le Renard by Jean de la Fontaine.

    When is Lebanon supposed to let fall the cheese, ô Maître AIG ?

    Posted by quelqu'une | January 12, 2010, 3:08 pm
  6. quelqu’une,

    I’m not sure who the cheese is and or what it stands for but remember that in the end the “cheese stands alone”.

    Instead of attacking me why don’t you present your position and argue for it? It would make the discussion more interesting.

    Posted by AIG | January 12, 2010, 3:21 pm
  7. AIG,

    Ah non! “The cheese stands alone” only in your song : )
    My position is : it’s to Lebanese people to decide about the “best defense for Lebanon against outside forces” – and it’s also to Lebanese people to decide who these “outside forces” are.

    I think your point of view is biased. I’m not attacking you, I’m attacking this bias.

    Posted by quelqu'une | January 12, 2010, 3:48 pm
  8. Jihad ” the party that helped the attacks on Nahr el-Bared the most is Syria.”

    Syria helped provide us with Shaker el 3absi and fat7 el eslam also. a smal detail you probably dont like to admit or mention.

    Posted by V | January 12, 2010, 4:08 pm
  9. That’s not why people make fun of the Americans. Let me take the analogy a bit further.

    While driving this heap you are flagged down by a team of crack engineers. And those engineers look your car up and down, look at all its deficiencies and tell you what the car really need is go-faster stripes along the side!

    The joke is that the US, while demanding the disarmament of Hizballah, only provides the LAF with the type of weaponry that makes it a glorified riot police.

    We don’t need offensive “cool toys”; We don’t need Apaches or F-16s or tank brigades. But refusing a so-called ally even defensive weaponry is a joke.

    And “Could or has anyone else provided the kind of crucial help that the LAF needed during Nahr el-Bared?” Should we be more appreciative?

    Hows that help compare to the crucial help the Israelis got in 06? It was US supplied bombs that were bombing army barracks in 2006 – And its the lack of US help that left those soldiers defenseless.

    Posted by mo | January 12, 2010, 4:36 pm
  10. quelqu’une,

    If you think my view is biased, you have to explain why it is biased. Of course, a priori, there is some possibility that my view as an Israeli COULD be biased. But that is not relevant since I put forward a concrete point of view that can be examined on its own merits, and it does not matter who put it forward. So what is biased about what I wrote? Why does it not make sense? Which assumptions of mine are wrong?

    As for the Lebanese deciding how to defend Lebanon, that is good in principal but in fact it is Hezbollah through the threat of their weapons that decide for all Lebanese as May 8th proved.

    Posted by AIG | January 12, 2010, 4:42 pm
  11. Mo,
    Israel do use the military aid from the US to buy bombs, but most of the bombs we use are made in Israel.
    Take a look at:

    may also interest you.

    Israel EXPORTS weapons, even the Russians recently bought drones from us.

    Posted by AIG | January 12, 2010, 4:50 pm
  12. Mo,
    So? Israel was bombing Lebanon well before the extra bunker busters were sent. Bunker busters are not needed against the Lebanese army barracks.
    One of the lessons for Israel from 2006 was not to underestimate the amount of bunker busters the IDF needs on hand to fight Hezbollah. Since then Israel has stocked up with plenty of both US made and Israeli made bunker busters.

    Posted by AIG | January 12, 2010, 9:32 pm
  13. AIG,
    1- “As for the Lebanese deciding how to defend Lebanon, that is good in principal but”…
    There’s no BUT if you really think it’s to Lebanese deciding how to defend Lebanon.
    2- “Israel do use the military aid from the US to buy bombs, but most of the bombs we use are made in Israel.”
    And how do you make these bombs? From expropriated olive trees?


    “The U.S. Army will double the value of emergency military equipment it stockpiles on Israeli soil, and Israel will be allowed to use the U.S. ordnance in the event of a military emergency, according to a report in Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz. An American defense official said that the U.S.-Israel agreement reflects the Obama administration’s continued commitment to Israel’s security and the understanding that changes in U.S. economic conditions and inflation have limited the weapons available to Israel. The deal allows Israel access to a wider spectrum of military ordnance, and the U.S. official said his government was considering which forms of military supplies would be added to stores in Israel. Missiles, armored vehicles, aerial ammunition and artillery ordnance are already stockpiled in the country.”

    Posted by quelqu'une | January 13, 2010, 2:04 am
  14. What on earth is wrong with the deployment of rocket artillery? These types of weapons were crucial to the defense of Lebanon during the 33-Day War. Without them, and the siege-like conditions they imposed on the attacker’s northern territory (including its only port), the war would have been lengthened with possibly a different outcome.

    You have perhaps the best asymmetric fighting force in the world- and you want to mess with that? Replace it with a known quantity of, let’s face it, far lessor grade?

    You’re far better off reforming your political structure to better reflect the demographic reality, than supplanting your successful-in-battle southern defense forces.

    Posted by Mark Pyruz | January 13, 2010, 3:12 am
  15. There is much appreciation for American help to Lebanon. Although, Israelis do grumble that US-supplied technology has been one of the factors that helped with the big spy round-up. Oops.

    AIG. Did you read the Haaretz piece about the bogus sales job done to you poor Israelis about the efficacy of the “Iron Dome”? Ya’ll were lied to. Imagine that! It seems that the primitive weaponry that the LAF should eschew is still a threat. A big one.


    Think of Lebanon as a porcupine. Not many lethal predators past the cub stage will mess with ’em.

    Posted by lally | January 13, 2010, 3:58 am
  16. A pretty pragmatic way to see things, I especially liked “… and the QME is that big hole a hundred kilometers away.”

    However, I ask myself and you:
    what if Hezbollah becomes a special unit of the Army?
    We create a new whole image for the LAF and Hezbollah is its CTU, how about that?
    I guess we’ll be among the cool & feared nations…


    Posted by Samah | January 13, 2010, 4:11 am
  17. V,
    “Syria helped provide us with Shaker el 3absi and fat7 el eslam also”.

    Evidence? Everyone was blaming everyone else for Fateh El Islam. Seymour Hersh (who to me is a lot me credible that Future TV) pointed the finger at the Hariri et al.

    The rumour that Syria created Fateh El Islam cannot be used to undermine the fact that Syria provided the LAF with a lot of materiel for the Nahr El Bared campaign.

    Posted by RedLeb | January 13, 2010, 5:56 am
  18. Lally;

    Just to set you right on some facts:
    The price calculation in Haaret’z is completly bogus.
    The 100,000$ iron doeme rocket does not measure aganist the cost of a Kassam, rather the costs of the damage it causes. And those are huge: Just the economic damage inflicted by one million Israelis leaving their homes during the 2nd lebanon war is measured at five billion NIS. That’s enough to finance 12,000 Iron dome rockets – far higher than the number of rockets fired by Hezbollah during that period.
    This is also true for any other rocket threat.

    As for the technicalities of whether the system can respond to the short range threat: I remember the experts quoted in Haaretz two years ago saying that a system like that will not be able to handle even a 20km range. The system has now been demonstrated to work, and even if it’s limit is not the reported 5km but actually 10km, it doesn’t change it’s relevance. Shderot may on the limit of the system’s capability in term of response time, but it will still make a huge difference in protecting the larger cities in both the northern and southern fronts.

    Just preventing the mass evacuation from the larger cities at the 20-70km range will take most of the ‘sting’ out of both Hebzullah
    ‘s and Hamas’s missile strategies – which was never about actual missile damage but more about perception and moral, economic damages.

    I am betting after the system is demonstrated in the next war (sadly around here its just a matter of when, not if), both Hizbullah and Hamas will go for the longer range missiles. Bummer for them, because those missiles are bigger, bulkier and easier for Israel to track & intercept prior to launch, as was demonstrated in 2006 when practically all ZilZal missiles were destroyed on the ground.

    That is until the mid-range missile defense is in place, of course (though I suspect Iron Dome’s maximum range has been deliberately downplayed).

    But you can keep pretending that it’s only the USA’s But giveaways that give Israel it’s military edge, if it makes you feel better.

    Posted by G | January 13, 2010, 6:21 am
  19. “will take most of the ’sting’ out of both Hebzullah’s and Hamas’s missile strategies”

    You keep fighting the last war, we’ll fight the next 😉

    Posted by mo | January 13, 2010, 7:31 am
  20. Near as I can tell, anti-missile systems don’t work. I’m not sure why governments spend so much money on them, perhaps they think one day the will work.

    The Patriot missiles did not stop one Scud from landing in Israel, and I doubt the Iron Dome system will amount to anything.

    The best way to deal with missiles, is to remove the lauchers and take out the support structure. In short, make it too costly for the enemy (and give Goldstone another reason for a ME visit).

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 13, 2010, 8:52 am
  21. AP,

    We shall have to wait and see how the iron dome actually performs in a war. I am more optimistic than you but then the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

    I agree with you though about what the best strategy is. Even though it was not employed fully in 2006, it has brought already to Lebanon and Israel several years of quiet and it does not seem Hezbollah is planning any adventure soon. The situation on its northern border could not be better for Israel. In fact, it is the best it has ever been since the founding of Israel. In this regard, the 2006 war was very successful.

    Posted by AIG | January 13, 2010, 10:21 am
  22. AIG,

    Well, at least it keeps engineers and scientists employed.

    Now the real “outrage of the week” is the following:

    How dare the fascist Zionist Entity denegrate the Great Turkish People in such a fashion? I mean who do you think these uppity Jews are? Armenians?

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 13, 2010, 10:28 am
  23. mo;

    Yes, learning lessons from the previous war is a good idea. You should try it sometime, it can even prevent the next war from happening…

    You seem a little trigger happy, so I assume you are more of an armchair general than a foot soldier. We will just have to wait and see. I, for one, am not looking forward to the next war. Nonetheless, I am glad my country is taking whatever measures it can to provide better protection for it’s citizens.

    Akbar P:
    The patriot missile deployed in Israel during the Gulf war was not even a proper anti-ballistic system. It was an anti-aircraft system which was setup as a provisional solution and that’s how it performed – badly. That is nowhere similar to the Patriot-3 or arrow missiles.

    Posted by G | January 13, 2010, 10:40 am
  24. G –

    Agreed, but no one really knows if they work substantially better in the field. I’m a skeptic. Of course, I hope they do work.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 13, 2010, 10:43 am
  25. Well, I think that the most important effect such defense systems have is deterance. That is, if the other side believes they work of course.

    I think the arrow has allready some effect in this sense and I believe the publication of the Iron dome’s succsess was with that deterrence purpose in mind.

    If this thread is any indication, it isnt working. Sadly proving the system does work will mean more loss of life, most of it in Gaza and Lebanon.

    Israel’s record does indicate it delivers as promised on the technological front. It’s almost as if the other side thinks this (defensive) step has breached some unwritten ‘code’ on how PA/Leb-Israeli wars can be fought.

    Posted by G | January 13, 2010, 11:09 am
  26. Everybody in Lebanon know how the Siniora government, through the ISF, facilitated the entry, the arming and even the renting of appartments in Tripoli by Shaker al-‘Absi movement. One can only call on Fida ‘Itani of al-Akhbar newspaper who wrote numerous and detailed articles in which he named many names in the Siniora government, in Hariri’s al-Mustaqbal, etc. And Shaker al-‘Absi was formerly in a Jordanian jail before entering Syria then Lebanon.

    Posted by Jihad | January 13, 2010, 11:13 am
  27. G,

    The iron dome will have a lot of deterrence value once it is deployed in the Sderot area and works well. That will happen in about 6 months.

    Do not expect Hezbollah or their supporters to ever acknowledge that their missiles are useless. If they do so, they will only be inviting more pressure to disarm.

    The best way to measure deterrence is with facts on the ground. That the Israeli northern border has never been more quiet is a fact. It is therefore clear that deterrence is working. Given the problems of Iran and the estimates that by 2015 Iran will be a net importer of oil, all bode well long term. Short term, there is a good chance of war when the US/Israel attack Iran.

    Posted by AIG | January 13, 2010, 11:54 am
  28. Beggers can’t be choosers.

    Why the heck should the US give Lebanon ANY military equipment that could fall into the hands of an organization who says “The U.S. is a Beast, one bite by our nation and Israel is gone” while the crowd replies “Death to America?”

    The US is so evil. That’s why like always we’re pouring aid into Haiti – not just our government, but us common folk who may only have $10 or $20 to give. So evil. Such beasts.

    Nothing is going to change in Lebanon until the Lebanese stop blaming everyone else for their problems and start pointing fingers at themselves while they look in a mirror. Like the saying goes, every time you point one finger, three are pointing back at you.

    Posted by G.I. Joe | January 13, 2010, 12:11 pm
  29. Short term, there is a good chance of war when the US/Israel attack Iran.


    Again, I’m not as optimistic as you on this front as well.

    For the past 10 years (maybe I’m older than you;), I’ve heard Iran has another year/months/days before they “go nuclear”.

    Hear we are. The line in the sand moved again for the umpteenth time!

    No one knows the real story, except that Israel and the US are good at scaring us and moving the line always backward. Now that no one believes these predictions, any war will be considered “a lie”.

    Iran will be another Pakistan: a muslim state with a nuclear bomb capability.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 13, 2010, 12:14 pm
  30. Interesting that this thread has turned into an evaluation of the latest Israeli ‘super weapon’ that will ‘do the business’ nest time round, and the blog an arena for Zionist propagandists to practice their trade of disinformation, repetition of half-truths and elaborating on outright falsehoods.

    Has nobody divulged to them the secret yet! Well, I will: “zaman al awal tahawal” (get your dictionaries out), and consequently Lebanese are no longer intimidated, psy-ops or no psy-ops. Israelis need much more than mere propaganda to regain the upper hand of old. Just ask the ‘mighty’ Israeli army about 2006!


    Posted by Questionmarks | January 13, 2010, 2:39 pm
  31. Questionmarks,

    Here’s another “half-truth” for your files:

    Late Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said a letter of apology has been written, and the premier “hopes this will end the affair.” Israeli officials said the letter was delivered to Turkish officials in Ankara.

    According to quotes obtained by The Associated Press, the letter said in part, “The disputes between Israel and Turkey will be solved in a respectful and mutual manner between the two governments. There was no intention to humiliate the ambassador personally. I apologize for the way Israel’s protest was presented.”

    There was no immediate response from the Turkish government.

    As far as the “super weapon” is concerned, I wouldn’t worry about it. It shoots up, not down.

    QN –

    This Turkish ambassador/apology would make a great QNION article.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 13, 2010, 3:34 pm
  32. G.I. Joe writes :
    “… like always we’re pouring aid into Haiti”…

    Just a few facts about the US/Haiti relations unfortunately slipped G.I. Joe’s IDQ – Imperialist Drama Queen – mind.
    Maybe some historical background would help him to understand why those ill-mannered Haitians are so ungrateful.

    [The Occupation of Haiti, Recalling 1915-1934 By Bob FELDMAN – Counterpunch – 20 March 2007]

    “According to THE UNITED STATES OCCUPATION OF HAITI 1915-1934 by Hans Schmidt, ‘those who did not come to terms with the Americans were subjected to…decimation by marine patrols.’ Although only 16 U.S. soldiers lost their lives during the first five years of the U.S. military’s first occupation of Haiti, over 2,250 Haitians were killed by U.S. troops during this same period.”

    Posted by quelqu'une | January 13, 2010, 3:35 pm
  33. quelqu’une,

    So who has got it better, Puerto Rico or Haiti?
    I bet 99% of Haitians would be willing to change their status to that of Puerto Ricans.

    Posted by AIG | January 13, 2010, 5:03 pm
  34. Jihad,

    Can you please name me a country other than the U.S. giving the LAF or ISF any FREE trainings, ammunition, and vehicles (regardless of their state)?

    And btw there are many other very competitve new jet fighters made in the world … Gripen for example. Trust me EU, Russia, China, India would be more than glad to sell us weapons. But guess what we don’t have money.

    Lets get real, we are only mad at the U.S. because they won’t give us QME …. for free.

    فظيعين نحنا، شحادين و مشارطين

    Posted by Ali | January 13, 2010, 5:09 pm
  35. Questionmarks,

    Perhaps Hezbollah is not intimidated, but since the 2006 war it is certainly deterred. It did not even help the Palestinians by shooting ONE rocket at Israel during the Gaza offensive. The northern border of Israel has never been more quiet in the history of Israel. How do you explain these facts?

    Posted by AIG | January 13, 2010, 5:29 pm
  36. As much as I hate to admit it, AIG, Akbar, and G have you guys chasing your tails here. For God’s sake, even Nasrallah admitted that had they known what Israel’s response would have been, they would not have carried out the operation in 2006. That is the definition of deterrence. When you weigh your actions in the face of the most likely response to your actions, and determine that it’s just not worth going through with your plan, this means that you’ve been successfully deterred.

    Pretty straightforward, wouldn’t you say?

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | January 13, 2010, 5:36 pm
  37. QN,
    I don’t see anyone besides AIG, Akbar, and G even arguing about whether or not Hezballah is deterred. The closest is Questionmarks claiming that the Lebanese are no longer intimidated.

    Nasrallah’s statement is not *that* straightforward, since he continues on say that: thank God we actually ended up carrying it out when we did, because the war took place in June and not October, and the Israelis lost the element of surprise, and now they have to think three times before launching a new war on Lebanon.

    The whole issue is meaningless anyway, since Israel initiates all the wars. The real question is whether Israel has been deterred. The whole Iron Dome project, for example, is not intended to prevent Hezabllah from launching an attack on Israel (when has it ever done that?). It is intended to lower the cost of Israel’s wars by minimising the damage of retaliation. It is designed to prevent Israel from being deterred.

    Posted by RedLeb | January 13, 2010, 7:57 pm
  38. QN’
    And that is one reason why I have often argued that Hezbollah has sold the Lebanese a myth when they sold them the idea that their militia is needed to counter a threat that is either non existent, over exagerated or may be neutralized in a much more effective and less costly way than to have an extralegal militia that responds to Qom.

    Posted by ghassan karam | January 13, 2010, 7:59 pm
  39. Elias, are you aware of the extensive Israeli preparations for “Operation Do-Over”?

    Israel’s friends always mention Nasrallah’s statement in order to “prove” that deterrence “works”. What they ignore or perhaps are ignorant of is the history of tit-for-tat kidnappings, prisoner exchanges and sporadic firing of ordnance that was SOP between Hezbollah and Israel under Sharon. The low-intensity status quo was acceptable to both sides. (Sadly, the relaxed attitude among Goldwasser’s patrol led to their ambush. Why was that warning of seeing Hezbollah operatives by the previous patrol ignored?!)

    Nasrallah was fooled by Olmert’s declaration that he would follow Sharon’s policies. Sharon would not have been so stupid to launch another war on Lebanon/Hezbollah; in particular, Sharon would never have ordered a ground invasion. Typical of flyboys the world over, Dan Halutz was convinced that HIS AF could do the job. And the gormless DC neocons pushing for it were as always, clueless.

    G. I’m quite aware of the extent of Israeli/American military cooperation in terms of missile and civil defense (including evacuation scenarios) and am glad to see that some Israelis and their friends are expressing at least some skepticism about the usefulness of the ballyhoed protection methods. Evidently, they are not entirely persuaded that “perception” trumps “reality” when it comes to the possibilities/probabilities of widespread death and destruction.

    But, thanks for your input as it demonstrates the strategery in action. Would you care to explain the dismal failures of the recent co$tly test of the upgraded Arrow off the California coast? Or why the numbskulls promoting the “Iron Kipa” claimed that it could stop MORTARS? The only way that is possible is if my country has allowed Israeli access to the top level classified American X-band radar technology installed at OUR military base in the Negev.

    BTW, the danger of the unguided rocket barrages (porcupine quills) is that guidance systems on the larger missiles provide an electronic signature for “locking on to” and targeting. In addition, many Israeli intel assets providing humint targeting info to MI are no longer in business. But the amount of destruction done is dependent on what’s hit. Civilians living around military installations/arms caches and vulnerable toxic industrial sites magnify the potential damages of low yield explosive loads.

    Akbar. You’re right that the whole business of the latest Turkey/Israeli diplo debacle is ripe for satire. Although, it would be better if penned by one of the many talented Israeli commenters/TV skit producers who excel at darkly satirical writing. (I’m a great fan). The whole set-up as recorded and explained by “Danny the Diplo” Ayalon MUST be included.

    In fact, I fully expect to see some such penned efforts soon although not in the “conversational” form that QN has mastered. I’m not sure that he would “get” the Israeli tactic of insisiting that the target audience stop believing their lying eyes.

    Posted by lally | January 13, 2010, 8:03 pm
  40. Lally;

    I find you talk of perception a clear victory of the first over the second.

    Perception IS reality for everybody, including you and me.

    In 2006 Israel did not declare victory but rather investigated into its faults on the decision level and on-the-ground level. Pushing ‘Iron Dome’ forward is one of the results. You may not like the results, but that is mostly a matter of perception.

    It seems really important for you guys to promote the perception that Israel has no technological achievements of it’s own, rather everything is ‘stolen’ of ‘given’ by the US. I don’t agree – but it’s useless to argue.

    So what if test missile X failed? I am glad such failures are admitted instead of the cover-ups you may be more used to.

    I work in research & development myself, and I am sure Iron dome had may failed tests before achieving a success. That’s how you develop a system, for failure to failure.

    Red Lab:

    Hezbullah never launched an unprovoked (missile) attack on Israel?? That is not even in the realm of perception.
    In 2006, Hezbullah kidnapped the two soldiers across the border and used Katyusha attacks on the surrounding villages as cover and distraction. It is ridiculous to suggest Israel was bound by some unwritten code “You kidnap and launch a couple of rockets, we respond by this & this”.

    The fact that your enemy & declared nemesis has responded thus in previous incidents is no guarantee for the future, which should always be taken that into account.

    Fighting the previous war, anyone?

    Posted by G | January 14, 2010, 4:01 am
  41. G,
    As you said: ‘as cover and distraction’. In the context of my original comment, I meant an attack as in launching a war, or where the military aim is the damage and destruction itself. As in, say, Operation Litani, or Operation Peace for Galilee, or Operation Accountability.

    My point was that diversionary attacks cannot be deterred by missile shields because the attacks are not even meant to hit their target, only to focus attention elsewhere.

    And its RedLeb.

    Posted by RedLeb | January 14, 2010, 4:48 am
  42. G #41,

    I am increasingly of the belief that what is going on these days between Lebanon and Israel is truly a ‘battle’ for public perception; more so on the Israeli side.

    A couple of days ago, Barack, in his near-daily threats to Lebanon (..and I do mean Lebanon and not only the resistance) added a notion that is worthy of further consideration. He said, and here I am paraphrasing, that the borders have been quite for some years now, and it is in both sides’ interest for this state of affairs to be sustained.

    I believe that Israel has all the reasons/rationale on a national level to direct a crippling blow to the resistance in Lebanon, not least for 2 strategic considerations: to regain the status of its army that suffered in 2006 a reversal domestically as well as regionally, and to pre-empt the escalation by the Lebanese resistance in its efforts to maintain and indeed enhance its military capabilities. That said, Israel remains ‘hesitant’ in its active endeavours towards achieving these strategic objectives. We constantly hear that efforts are underway to deal with these issues; military manoeuvres, mass public preparations and most importantly an effective response to mid and long range missiles. Notwithstanding the validity of such ‘new’ high-tech response -or lack of it- the issue remains to be one of who will blink first. In other words, which community will be able to handle the human, political and economic repercussions for longer!

    Looking at the past six decades or so and the nature and social fabric of both societies gives us, perhaps, an idea of who is prepared to tough it out better!

    As to your view in the second to last paragraph about “provocation”, let me borrow a sentiment from almost all international norms and conventions: resisting occupation is not only legal, it is an obligation. The taking of two Israeli soldiers as POWs in 2006 falls within the realm of such legitimate obligations.

    Lest we forget: the invasions of 1978 and 1982, not to mention earlier transgressions against Lebanon, and the umpteen UN resolutions that Israel failed to abide by until such time in 2000 when the occupation was rolled back from most of Lebanese territories, and 2006-7 when the vast majority of Lebanese civilians and members of the resistance, dead and alive, were brought home. In view, the achievements resulting from taking the POWs, including the establishment of a ‘balance of terror’ that insured 3 years of ‘stability’ to the Lebanese people in the south, are very much worth it.


    Posted by Questionmarks | January 14, 2010, 5:22 am
  43. RedLeb (sorry, didn’t even get the meaning til now):

    Come on, do you think it matters to Israel that the missile were “only meant for distraction but not destruction”?

    That kind of subtlety is good maybe for diplomacy, not for war (not that Israel’s diplomacy of late was subtle in any way). Making such claims is not just distorting reality, its turning it inside out.

    And all those hints about how Israel is all about destruction while the Lebanease are better?
    Like “death by a thousand cuts” is not the current declared approach for Hezbullah and it’s copycats.

    The fact we have good shelters and radar warning systems doesn’t mean we have to be ‘tolerant’ about missiles being launched on our territory. Are you ‘tolerant’ of Israel surveillance flights over Lebanon? I am sure you would justify the use of deadly force in that case. I mean, they don’t even physically harm anyone – but that’s hardly the point, is it?

    Posted by G | January 14, 2010, 5:27 am
  44. G,
    Apparently you would rather have a debate over Israeli tolerance to being attacked, and Lebanese expectations of tit for tat exchanges.

    I don’t.

    Posted by RedLeb | January 14, 2010, 7:08 am
  45. It’s ABSURD! This is precisely the point made in the post. Instead of discussing the issue in a constructive way, everyone devolves into pointless and self-indulgent potification on everybody else’s faults.

    OF COURSE the US doesn’t intend to give Lebanon the Army it really needs. OF COURSE the not-so-shiny not-so-new Hummvees they’re unloading on the LAF are shabby hand-me-downs. But the sad reality is, they are improving the LAF’s capabilities, that’s how sad a state of affairs we’re facing. Is it enough? Of course not. Does it mean we should swear fealty to Uncle Sam? Who’s asking us to do so? Has it stopped us from acquiring Russians MiGs (as useless as they might be)?

    The way to improve the LAF is to exploit all available sources, starting with cost-free ones. In fact, accepting aid from the US has probably stimulated Russia to pitch in which will probably stimulate the US to pitch in even more. We are too far away from an even marginally effective LAF to refuse any help, but that doesn’t mean we have to accept any conditions. The day the Lebanese government presents an unconditional peace treaty with Israel or open a US base in Lebanon or whatever we consider to be a breach of national sovereignty, we’ll all hit the streets and protest and chain ourselves to whichever monument is relevant. Until then, let’s not look gift horses in the mouth, shall we?

    As for the Hezbollah-is-great-why-do-we-need-an-army argument, every single of tenet that doctrine has been disproved. Even if you consider the armed pacification and occupation of Beirut, the silencing of (admittedly partisan) media through sheer thuggery and political blackmail by force of arms (not to call it a coup)to be not much of an offense to your delicate-yet-selective-sensitivities, Hezbollah is an ineffective weapon against Israel.

    Hezbollah’s rhetoric holds that Israel would have gone through the 2006 war even without provocation, and will go through new wars, because its very existence is built on continuous aggression. In that case, Hezbollah has been unable and will be unable to stop the Israeli Air Force and all the destruction it has wreaked. Maybe, MAYBE, if the much vaunted “secret weapon” materializes, they might down a couple of helicopters, MAYBE even a couple of jets, but it will be like the attack on the Israeli Navy: a one-shot media stunt that would simply force the Israelis to bomb from further away (higher up) unimpeded.

    Similarly, the argument that Hezbollah allows Lebanon to resist without suffering Israeli retaliation has been obviously shot to pieces.

    What remains is the any-unit-in-the-army-is-compromised argument. Most armies in the world have deep cover special forces groups whose existence is barely acknowledged to the political establishment and who have complete operational freedom as long as they stick to the decision of war and peace held by the government. There is absolutely no reason this would not work in Lebanon, it has for the past 15 years, with the only difference that Hezbollah make their own decisions of war and peace.

    Posted by Gobbeltygook | January 14, 2010, 8:26 am
  46. RedLeb states:

    The whole issue is meaningless anyway, since Israel initiates all the wars.


    That, of course, is the brainwashed Arab-street version.

    The actual version is the following. Note, nothing like this was tried again after the conflict, and Hezbollah has already admitted it was a mistake.

    The conflict began when Hezbollah militants fired rockets at Israeli border towns as a diversion for an anti-tank missile attack on two armored Humvees patrolling the Israeli side of the border fence.[21] Of the seven Israeli soldiers in the two jeeps, two were wounded, five were killed, and the bodies of two of the dead were taken to Lebanon.[21] Five more were killed in a failed Israeli rescue attempt.


    Lally said:

    …Sharon would never have ordered a ground invasion. Typical of flyboys the world over, Dan Halutz was convinced that HIS AF could do the job. And the gormless DC neocons pushing for it were as always, clueless.

    Sharon may not have sent ground troops, but he sure would have fought. I lot of blame went to the defense minister, Amir Peretz, who, at the time had a famous photo of him taken showing him gaze through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars. A fitting photo indeed. He and Olmert were symbols of bad military planning.

    Nevertheless, the neocon “strategy” was to simply give Israel the freedom and time they needed to do the job (or the best job) they could under the time constraints they seem to always have due to international pressure. It was also the necon strategy to get a favorable UNSC resolution. UNSC Resolution 1701 was good idea, because it is a given that Hezbollah would not abide by it, thus providing the GOI a reason to overfly and go back into Lebanon the next time hostilities begin.

    The neocons also wanted Israel to bite on Syria as well. The GOI decided to forgo that advice.

    The only way that is possible is if my country has allowed Israeli access to the top level classified American X-band radar technology installed at OUR military base in the Negev.

    YOUR country is my country. YOUR country almost suffered another commercial airplane incident from the typcial brainwashed jihadist last month. YOUR country naively tutored jihadists how to fly commercial airliners for their 9-11 “coming-out party” before YOUR country ever set foot in Afghanistan and Iraq. YOUR country was duped by a Jordanian double-agent.

    OUR country would do better if they worked more closely with Israel.

    The enemy isn’t “the neocons”.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | January 14, 2010, 8:42 am


  1. Pingback: The Inside Scoop on U.S. Military Aid to the LAF « Qifa Nabki | A Lebanese Political Blog - January 18, 2010

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