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17 January 2016


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I have always been a practitioner of the Socratic method. pl


The short answer to why Israel has become so anti-Iran can be summed up in one word -Hezbollah. Israel knows well that a conventional military campaign by any of the State actors in the region can be repulsed with Israel's weapon superiority, especially the IAF. Hezbollah is another story as Israel has found out in the past. Hezbollah is dug in and spread out over all South Lebanon. Israel cannot bomb them out and knows it's troops are no match for the close in man to man fight that war against Hezbollah would entail.

The crux of Israel's concerns with Hezbollah is the vast number of missiles (10,000 to a high estimate of 50,000) that can rain down on Israel's civilian population. The missiles themselves are not an existential threat to Israel but Israel's population cannot tolerate this piercing of Israel's superiority complex. Such an event would lead to intolerable emigration of Israeli Jews. Consequently, Israel has been trying to push Iran into the backwaters economically and militarily so Hezbollah's patron and supplier would be enfeebled.



I had this conversation last year with a senior IDF officer. He is retired but an adviser to the IDF general staff. He freely admitted that they have no effective defense against Hizbullah rocket and missile fire against Israel proper. The ground defense is too tough for the IDF to face any longer given the Gucci generation phenomenon and the air defenses and camouflage would protect the Hizbullah rocket forces long enough for them to salvo all they have against Israel. It would be devastating. and then, following the Syria war Hizbullah will be even tougher. pl

Babak Makkinejad

They Israelis finally succeeded to teach a group of Arabs how to fight; just like the Swedes taught Russians (under Peter the Great) how to fight.

As for enfeebling Iran, they have failed.

In my estimation, their best policy choice would be to accept the HAMAS 99-Year-Long Cease-Fire deal.

Of course, there is always the Utopian choice of de-nuclearizing and giving Palestinians in the Occupied Territories Israeli citizenship (after they have shipped all their nuclear goodies out).



As Clausewitz wrote, there is no school as effective as combat that you survive. pl


turcopolier, you might also check the Christian Evangelicals in the U.S. who make all this Israeli influence possible. Our biggest problem in the middle east lies in the U.S. Alex



Thanks for the advice. I don't know how I missed that over the 40 years of my work with this issue. pl



Does the type of combat experience matter in the performance of a military force in a future combat situation?

What I am getting at is that it seems most of the combat in Syria is urban, block to block fighting (at least that is what I see in the videos). Israelis with their superior weaponry with armor and artillery may fight differently. Does it matter to the Hezbollah forces performance the circumstances under which they received their combat experience?


I think it's mostly about the revolution too. Every time a power emerges that defines their own interests not in lockstep with US interests, the US throws a decades long hissyfit. It was that way with the Soviet Union, with a brief interlude where we needed them to do the heavy lifting against the Nazis. Then the threat of mutual annihilation kept things in check. It was that way with China in 1949, enhanced by the confrontation in Korea and the general meme of the Yellow Peril. Never mind that China was really a very weak nation with an incompetent army that got its butt kicked by Vietnam in 1979. China became the Big Fuzzy Panda of Asia when they became a foil against the Soviets. Now that China is reasserting its own interests, the pendulum is swinging back again. It was that way with Vietnam. Not only did Vietnam assert its own interest, it actually fought the US to do it. We nursed a bogus POW grievance years after we stopped bombing the shit out of them, until Phil Knight decided he wanted to make sneakers there. It's happening now with Russia, who had the temerity to assert a sphere of vital interests rather than decline into vassalhood.

With Iran, it was compounded by their former status as a bulwark against the Soviet Union, the hostage crisis, their support for Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the periodic outbursts of frenzied anti-Americanism from that quarter. The Beirut bombing is also given as a reason, but I don't agree with that. The chain of responsibility to Iran for Beirut is weaker than the chain of responsibility to KSA for 9/11, a far less justifiable, far more cold-blooded and heinous act. But KSA gets a pass and Iran doesn't. But I think Iran's biggest sin next to the revolution itself is that they are successful while defiant. Their ally in Lebanon is the only force to frustrate a military occupation by Israel. They are part of a coalition that is successful at blocking the American regime change project in Syria. They are one of the most successful Muslim societies in a social, political, and material sense. That just frosts somebody's shorts.



I have done COIN. I have done land mass maneuver war. I have done John Le Carre cleverness. It does not seem to me that the varieties dictate a difference in ability, but this may be a case of special pleading on my part. pl


Case in point re Israel's short-sighted tactical alliances: Shia and Christian militias used by Israel to dogpile the largely Sunni Palestinians in Lebanon. Those same Shias decided that they didn't care for Israeli occupation any more than they did for living under Sunni or Christian rule and formed Hezbollah, the most successful force resisting Israel, with Iran's help.


As in Low German "von/van" is the equivalent of "aus" (from) and usually does not indicate a person of noble birth I worked always with van Crefeld as "aus Krefeld".

Hoffmann von Fallersleben is the same case: the "von" simply meant that the guy came from the town of Fallersleben (near Wolfsburg), it was an useful addition to a quite frequent name in northern Germany.


PB, your comments reminded me that I have attended a talk by Gerhard Konzelman around 1985. The local Stadtsparkasse (bank) of my hometown spent each year real money on cultural events, one year they invited Konzelmann who gave a very good talk on the history, current situation and politics of Christian family clans, usually with French roots, in Lebanon (and IIRC Syria).

Part of his talk was very very similar to your comments, no claer fronts, only short term alliances, no issue with killing competing clans from the own religious fraction.


re "van Crefeld":

Martin van Creveld was born in Rotterdam, in the netherlands.

The 'van' or 'von' in "van Crefeld" means that this is Martin from "Crefeld" i.e 'aus Krefeld'.

It isn't a noble title, but rather a cognomen like Philip the Bold, John the Bald, Tim the Short - here - Martin from Krefeld.

Likely his ancestors originally came from there. Krefeld is a town, close to Düsseldorf, in the Rhineland which is some 12 or so km off the border and the dutch town Venlo. The local dialect there has similarities to dutch. It wouldn't have been much of a journey to Rotterdam. To get there, all they'd have to do was to take a Rhine boat and drift downstream.

A liklely time for the move would have been after the end of the spanish rule, when a degree of religious tolerance came to the Netherlands under new, protestant rule. Some time in the 17th century I guess.


I have read pro-Israeli types gloating that Hezbollah has taken great losses in Syria, crippling them as a fighting force.


I take that with a grain of salt, and assume while they certainly have taken losses, I doubt it is reducing their deterrence vis a vis Israel by all that much. Then, while losses undoubtedly hurt them as much as any military force, Hezbollah has a different attitude towards casualties and sacrifice as the Israelis do.

I have yet to see indications that Hezbollah has reduced the defence of Lebanon's southern border - i.e. robbed Peter to pay Paul - over Syria.

Hezbollah is in the meanwhile gaining invaluable combat experience, small unit leader development and their fighters who fight in Syria is not what Israel considers its greatest threat - Hezbollah's artillery. And, iirc, when Israel was ground to a halt in 2006, they weren't even fighting Hezbollah's main force, only their skirmishers in their heavily fortified skirmish line.

With that mech batallion in Syria Hezbollah are actually learning a couple new tricks, like mobile and combined arms warfare skills.


Here's anotgher interesting article about the various sects - pro-Assad Sunni copoperating with Hezbollah's Shia - fighting together against Jihadis in Syria.


It suggests, interestingly, that Gulfie and Turkish backing of the headchoppers has had some uninteded consequences - nation and alliance building.

The forces fighting on Assad's side have one characteristic largely absent from the salafist crowd sponsored by Turkey and the Gulfies - tolerance - suggesting strongly that these people are the West's natural allies (in sharp contrast to Turkey and the Gulfies).



I have been watching the Lebanese media and see no indication that Hizbullah has suffered "crippling" losses. There are a lot of Shia in Lebanon and they raise large families. The Hizbullah ground force in Syria is acquiring a lot of experience. That is a very valuable commodity. The Hizbullah rocket forces themselves are, of course, different people from the grunts. pl


The Saudis reliably let us control theirs, the Iranians resist.
The Saudi elite is intertwined with ours. That was somewhat true of Iran in the Shah's day but not since.



Don't post things twice. if you think the Saudis let us control their oil you live in cloud cuckoo land. pl


Rep Johnson calls out Saudis for its state sponsored funding of Islamic terrorism.




if you are interested, here's the who full HASC hearing on outside views of the US strategy on Syria and Iraq and the evolution of Islamic extremism

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