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26 July 2014


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Patrick Lang


I have never received a lot of mail from crazies. There have been a few and the intention is always clear that what is desired is to intimidate me. I have had a few of those recently. One, in particular is a former Israeli who writes to tell me that I know nothing. Well, I may know only a little but I will continue to share it with you all (Southern touch).

The trolls have been more successful in dealing with me in respoect to the corporate media. I have been told by insiders at several networks that a concerted and succesful effort was made over a long period to force the networks to stop interviewing me. Some of that was Bush Administration IO ops, but a lot was just straight Zionist muscle. In the recent past I have been told that the effort is being made to make me look as bad on TV as possible in the few times when I appear. I consider that to be "cruel and unusual punishment."(sob)

Basically, I just don't give a damn about ahything but the truth and never did.

I think "obsrver" represents an official position of the Israeli government. His criticism was reasonable and not excessively ad hominem and so I posted it.

I welcome the chance to argue my points. pl


I'm curious. I see a lot of analysis and all but is that all you guys think about?

I don't care how well trained they are. They are a bunch of racist thugs.

The only difference between the Israelis and the Nazis is that the Israelis are en vogue but genocide is not. Not in the West at least, which Israel is considered a part of (European).

Medicine Man


Thank you for your insights on the IDF. A very informative blog entry.



Thanks Col. for the sharing your observations and insight. As a seasoned traveler to this site, I appreciate and value your point-of-view.

Meanwhile medialand reporting that Reid/McConnell have sponsored and passed a bi-partisan resolution reaffirming US support for Israel and its right to self-defense.


The Israeli civilian leadership along with their military's command staff need to face a international criminal docket for their actions in Gaza.

Israel needs to be held accountable for their War Crimes against innocents.

Patrick Lang


We lack your depth of soul and unable to express our feelings conceal our hurt in mere intellectualism. pl


I am not a military man so perhaps you or some of your posters with military backgrounds can help me.

The much vaunted IDF infantry entered Gaza on the 3rd, a full 5 days ago. This is a piece of land 35km long and 10km wide.

In those 5 days the Israelis have not taken a single town.

Does that mean that they do not want to take the towns, which begs the question what was the point of the ground of operation?

Or does it mean they have not been able to? Which begs the question, do the low fatalities mean that the clashes reported around all the major towns have resulted in a quick withdrawl by the Idf?

Bill W, NH, USA

"Basically, I just don't give a damn about anything but the truth and never did."

3 Cheers for that!!!

From recent reading, Israel and Lebanon are now trading rocket fire.

When I was at DaNang we were told how many rockets were aimed at us for the coming evening and we're also told that even though we knew where they were set up there was nothing to be done about it as permission from the RVN Govt was not forthcoming to attack the villages where the rockets were set up. Whether that's true or not I don't know. But, supposing it is true, why couldn't the IDF just take out the rockets, they don't seem all that sophisticated and there's no need to get anyone's permission to do so?

Patrick Lang


Mo has asked a good question. Try to answer it for him. pl

otiwa ogede

a very informative post. thank you.


Thanks you, Col.(or is it SSG?) Socrates.

"In Socrates' eighteenth year, Sophroniscus presented him to the deme to be examined and entered onto the citizens' roll, making him eligible -- subject to age or class restrictions -- for the many tasks of government determined by lot or required of all citizens, beginning with two years of compulsory training in the Athenian militia...

"Athens was a city of numerous festivals, competitions, and celebrations, including the Panathenaea which attracted visitors to the city from throughout the Mediterranean. Like the Olympics, the Panathenaea was celebrated with special splendor at four-year intervals. [450 Parmenides] Plato depicts the nineteen-year-old Socrates in conversation with the great visiting philosophers from Elea, Parmenides and Zeno, at one of the Greater Panathenaea festivals, in late July or early August of 450.

"After completing his two years of military training, Socrates was subject to being sent beyond the borders of Attica with the army, but these were years of relative peace, so he is likely to have practiced a trade, at least until he gave his mother in marriage to Chaeredemus.

"Only at the age of thirty was eligibility established for such responsibilities and offices as jury service, generalship, and Council (executive body for the sovereign Assembly), so Athenian men lived at home with their parents during those ten years, and -- depending on their class in Athens' rigid four-class system, based on wealth and birth -- they spent that period learning a trade or acquiring the skills in public speaking and persuasion that would serve them well in Athens' citizen Assembly and courts. [433/2 Protagoras] When Plato next writes of Socrates, he is attending Callias' "open house" where famous educators of the day (Protagoras, Prodicus, Hippias) are vying for the lucrative opportunity to teach the wealthiest and most prominent young men of the city.

"Athens was even then, however, sliding toward war with Sparta on a scale that would involve all of Greece over the next three decades. Two of Plato's longer dialogues are set loosely throughout the war. [431-404 Republic, Gorgias] Both Socrates and Alcibiades were posted that summer, 432, to Potidaea to put down a revolt, Socrates as a footsoldier (hoplite). After an initial battle, a long siege reduced the population to cannibalism before it surrendered (Thucydides 2.70.1). As the army made its way home, it engaged in battle near Spartolus and suffered heavy losses (Thucydides 279.1-7). Socrates distinguished himself there by saving the life and armor of the wounded Alcibiades (Plato, Symposium 220d-e). When the army finally returned to Athens in May of 429, nearly three years had elapsed since its deployment. Soon after his return, Socrates was accused by a comic playwright of helping Euripides to write his tragedies, a claim that was to be repeated at least twice more by other comedians on the Athenian stage. Plato illustrates Socrates' arrival and return to conversation in the Charmides [429 Charmides], where participants (including Plato's relatives Critias and Charmides) discuss the nature of moderation.

"Socrates' active duty continued at the battle of Delium in 424, under the command of Laches. This was another defeat for the Athenian army which, while already under attack from Boeotian footsoldiers, was surprised by a troop of cavalry. Socrates' heroic behavior in the retreat is praised by Laches (Laches 181b) the following winter and later by Alcibiades (Plato, Symposium 221a). [424 Laches] The dialogue, on the nature of courage, shows Socrates as a friend of the famous Athenian general Nicias and makes a point of Socrates' being a favorite of the city's youths while remaining unknown to most of his fellow citizens. Any anonymity Socrates may have enjoyed came to an abrupt end at the annual Dionysian festival in the spring of 423. In the comedy category, at least two of the plays involved Socrates: one had the title of Socrates' music teacher, Connus; the other was Aristophanes' Clouds (§2.1).

"A year later, Socrates fought at Amphipolis, another Athenian disaster following another surprise attack. Plato sets a dialogue about the etymologies of words [422 Cratylus] upon his return. Socrates, so far as we know, did not return to war again. Athens and Sparta entered into a treaty named for Nicias that -- while never completely effective -- allowed Attica to remain free of Spartan invasion and crop-burnings for several years. During the peace, Socrates is represented as carrying on with his dialectical conversations with Athenians, concentrating on the nature of erotic love [418-416 Phaedrus], especially in relation to the education in rhetoric that had been especially popular in Athens since Gorgias' visit in 427. Plato's Symposium also focuses on erotic love, bringing together in February of 416 renowned Athenians -- Socrates, the tragedian Agathon, the comedian Aristophanes, the general Alcibiades, a doctor, an orator, an unknown follower of Socrates, and Agathon's older lover -- who give speeches in praise of love [416 Symposium]. Again education is a central theme, but so is the democracy, and so is Mystery religion. In fact, at least half the persons who celebrated Agathon's victory in the tragedy competition were implicated in acts of sacrilege -- profanations of the Eleusinian Mysteries -- presaged in the dialogue, that were said to have taken place in the months following the symposium but were not reported to the authorities until much later."


Indifference to everything but "the truth" (whatever that is), a modicum of self-knowledge and a willingness to ask difficult questions are among the higher human qualities.

The IDF "talking heads" at the moment are particularly odious and ineffective -- watch 'em now get stuck into the Red Cross/Crescent and UN. These incompetent IDF puppets go far to convince you of the opposite of what they are trying to say.

Perhaps in their zealotry the Ziocons have also lost some control of the public debate? Or their talking points are simply too preposterous to be believable except among the Koolaid addicts.

It is possible that essential conversations about statecraft, wisdom, courage and the useful application of power are not being well conducted at the moment in Tel Aviv --- or anywhere else.

Present company excepted.

Patrick Lang


There was an interesting little book that suggested that Shakespeare must have been a sergeant becasue he dealt with militaria so well. "seeking the bubble reputation..."

I was a sergeant(E-5)in the Army National Guard when I was 18 and still in high school, but in the Regular Army I was always a commissioned officer. pl



I have been contemplating your question since the Israeli attacks began more broadly. Why did Israel choose to attack Gaza now?

I have no military experience and its one of the reasons why I come to SST to get a more realistic perspective on geo-political matters.

However, my uninformed speculation to your question is that the IDF does not want to take the risk to "find out" if taking a Gazan town is easy or not. Since this whole gig seems to be the demonstration of "strength" and ruthlessness as well as to generate fear in their opponents it may not be wise to "push the envelope" and fall short.

Patrick Lang


I now know that you live in Arlington, Virginia. My apologies to the Israeli government.

OK,come out of the closet and debate me where I can see you. pl

Patrick Lang


Ah, Boston, the consulate maybe? The offer stands. pl


Historical Israeli control of Gaza was by the five fingers. Settlementson the sea accessed by roads from the south. Armor on the roads cut the contiguity of the Filistin (no P in Arabic) community and hindered commerce and communication. Thus the IDF exercised dominion and control over them.

I would think they have reasserted their old pattern after some reconnaissance by fire.

Rashid Khalidi (Obama's erstwhile dinner partner) reminds everyone in today's NYT the origin of the ?Gazans- refugees from the cities of pre 48 Filistin.

Avi Shlaim in the Guardian has a good article. Here's a snippet of how things were when the settlers were there

"In Gaza, the Jewish settlers numbered only 8,000 in 2005 compared with 1.4 million local residents. Yet the settlers controlled 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and the lion's share of the scarce water resources. "



I'll take a stab at your questions from my comfortable armchair.

Given the limited info available (and a lot of that is bound to be deception and IO), I believe the answer is that the IDF is choosing not to try to take the towns. My reasoning is as follows:

Modern armies don't like to fight in cities against guerrilla forces unless they really, really, really have to. The US in OIF, for example, limited most urban ops to cordons or "thunder run" type operations.

In this case, the risk-reward benefits don't favor the Israelis. They are sensitive to their own casualties and, despite what some may think, the negative effects of too many civilian casualties would end the war before Israel is ready and/or risk Israel's relationship with the US. It's impossible to assault occupied and densely populated cities without killing a lot of noncombatants, particularly when the opponents are Hamas, who aren't overly concerned with preventing civilian deaths. Unless such a bloody operation nets some significant value to Israel, it simply isn't worth the risk.

The IDF leadership probably realizes the force limitations Col. Lang described in this post and are fearful that their forces would precipitate some kind of incident that would negatively affect US support for Israel during a Presidential transition. Israel is already suspicious of Obama - an incident with the potential for long-term negative political effects on the US-Israeli relationship is something Israel cannot afford.

That Israel's casualties appear to be very light tells me they are not making a serious attempt to take the towns. These are probably spoiling attacks or recon in force.

In my estimation Israel intends to cordon the cities for the time being and hope for intel that will allow them to kill leadership targets, which they tend to prefer, until some kind of face-saving ceasefire is forced upon them. The beginnings of that are already moving forward, so I believe a ceasefire will be a reality sooner rather than later.

One alternative to my theory is that Israel is conducting probing attacks to gain intelligence and prepare for a larger assault on one or more towns or cities, but I don't think this is very likely.

James McKenzie-Smith

Dear Sir,

Re. your request to all to answer Mo's question about why the Israelis have not taken any towns. It would seem as though someone in the IDF cracked open a copy of Sun Tzu's book The Art of War, for a change.

By not pressing a desperate enemy, they are giving it a way of avoiding a fight to the finish, which would only harm Israel in the PR war, and make matyrs of Hamas. Also, as has been suggested before, what follows Hamas might be a good deal worse. Does the Israel really want to destroy Hamas?

They are also not attacking towns in order to avoid urban combat, which is a variation on Sun's declaration that city sieges are the lowest form of warfare, being both excessively destructive on both the target, and on the attacking army. If the IDF attacks into the towns, they will take losses, exhaust themselves, and either be defeated, or win and own the wreckage and humanitarian disaster. Neither is a desirable result, and there is little possibility of an acceptable excluded middle to these extremes.

By controlling the countryside, the IDF might be thinking that it can reduce the will of the people to resist, without so much trouble as would be caused by entering towns. Eventually, conflicts peter out for a while, and a ceasfire or truce might be the result again.

When the Israelis eventually leave after some sort of ceasefire, it will not have been defeated as happened in '06; Hamas will remain, but will be seen as less potent as many hoped; Israel will not be accused of installing a puppet regime or utterly destroying the towns; and Hamas' reputation will be damaged due to their inability to gain a Hizzbollah-like victory. When elections are eventually held again, Israel may well hope that the Palestinians remember that Hamas was defeated (or at least did not win, and brought suffering), and that Fatah might win instead.

It has been said by many that the IDF's current operations are designed to influence an election. I think that they are, but not the one that people think. The lack of an effort to actually squash Hamas in the towns seems to me to indicate that.

Of course, I am probably dead wrong.

Best regards,

James McKenzie-Smith



taking three steps back and looking at how the israeli government claims to be the only democratic government in the middle east, all the while israel's governments actions/behavior [gaza as the most recent example] are of a fascist behavior, not democratic.

a fascist is a fascist is a fascist irregardless of their purported religious beliefs.

FB Ali


I don’t think the Israelis ever intended to take any towns (that would have led to too many casualties among their troops, and too many civilian casualties on the other side – not that this bothers them, but the international outcry would have been irresistible).

As I suggested in an earlier post (in another thread) their aim appears to be to get an international force to come in and police Gaza’s borders, so that Hamas is prevented from firing rockets into Israel (and acquiring more and better weapons through the tunnels into Egypt). The US and several European countries seem ready to oblige them, as do Abbas and the US’s Arab allies. But the critical factor is getting Hamas to agree, and their price seems to be to get a guaranteed lifting of the Israeli and Egyptian sieges of Gaza.

It remains to be seen whether this deal will go through. If it doesn’t happen soon, Israel may be forced to accept a ceasefire because of the horrific humanitarian situation in Gaza, which is getting worse by the hour. That will prove sooner than otherwise that the operation was a bloody failure. And quite unnecessary – they could well have got such a deal without their brutal invasion.



Thanks for answering. But if they don't take a single town, does their failure in Lebanon not become amplified a thousand times? After all, "media wisdom" is that while Hizballah are worthwhile adversaries, Hamas is just a bunch of "thugs". And if the IDF is too scared to take them on in even one town, well that surely tells you all you need to know about the Israeli infantry.


FB Ali,

that is why that there must be pressure applied on the international stage to make sure that israel's civilian and military leadership are held criminally accountable for their war crimes against the children of gaza.

Mark Logan

Mo, I'll take a stab.

I agree with FB Ali.

If I had to guess, but only tactical goal I can think of for them in there is to set Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar (LCMR) sites,assuming they have them, and maybe
make firing rockets so uncomfortable as to make them stop however temporary that stoppage might be. Then they might claim a "success" of sorts.

Now, I was just a lowly NCO, so take this with a grain of salt. Same goes for any medical or stock recommendations I might venture to make as well.


Thanks for all the replies and the consensus seems to be that they are not taking the towns because they do not want to because of risk/gain ratio is too high.

I can accept this as as likely as any other reading of the situation. But if a: This is the case and b: Part of all this was to restore the IDF's credibility that it lost in 2006 I would have to say that the Israeli govt. is going to get in the neck when all is finished. Hamas will claim, with some legitimacy, that it didn't bother defending the open ground and allowed the Israelis to take it, but that its troops held off the Israelis where it really mattered. Add to that the fact that no matter what they do, I'm betting a missile will be fired into Israeli one minute before any ceasefire comes into effect, and again the perception will be that while the IDF did not lose, they killed a lot of people for nothing.

"particularly when the opponents are Hamas, who aren't overly concerned with preventing civilian deaths"

Seriously, I know we have our differences and ideologically we sit on different sides of the Blue line but that line is, well let me leave it as simply untrue.



Very off the mark, sounds like it owes much more to their opposite numbers, the Soviet Red Army, which didn't have the authoritative NCO corp and was largely conscript in the same vein.

And also had some mild fire discipline issues from time to time.

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