Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toots his own horn that during his term as prime minister, we have not gone to war. He explains his success by stating that war became superfluous once the Israel he headed demonstrated a resolve and determination that deterred its enemies.
Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu claims that during the last four years, Israel has not been fighting a war. Yaron London writes that the prime minister can't avoid that distinction simply by narrowly defining the term and refusing to establish clear borders between Israel and the outside world.
Yedioth Ahronoth (Israel)
This, too, is war
October 29, 2012
October 29 2012
Before we verify his statement, we first have to ask: What is war? If war implies invasion by our forces into enemy territory, then he is correct. But if war also connotes continuous attacks from the air and shooting from tanks in our territory to theirs, then he is mistaken. During his term in office, and even as I pen these lines, hundreds of rockets have been fired at us. Factories and schools were closed, citizens and soldiers killed and wounded. We “repaid” in kind with damage to the other side, and so on, in the Gaza Strip as well as in very faraway places. What shall we call this situation in polite language? Perhaps we should call it a “succession of incidents” — or maybe “low-intensity warfare.”
Last week [Oct. 24], Netanyahu toured the Gaza Envelope area and promised that the government he heads would reinforce the protection of thousands of structures in communities that are located a few kilometers from the Gaza Strip border. If his intentions are sincere and it is not just an election promise, the significance is that Netanyahu does not believe in his ability to tame the enemy. What will he do? He will continue to maintain an armed conflict that is not a war. The price inherent in this approach will only rise, because Hamas and the splinter terrorist organizations are constantly enlarging the range of their rockets. We will be forced to expand the reinforced strip and at the same time, continue to confront the launchers of the rockets and their handlers. The price will reach incredible sums — a fortune that we need for other national interests.
Netanyahu adopts a strategy that is in stark contrast to that taken by former prime minister Ehud Olmert. While others lambasted him for his rash decision to go to war due to provocation that did not justify such sweeping measures, I believe that Olmert’s strategy was correct, though his tactics were erroneous. Although these tactical mistakes cost us the lives of many soldiers, they were compensated by an indisputable result: Ever since that war, Hezbollah has not provoked us even once. Imagine what our circumstances would be like today, if we had adopted Netanyahu’s restraint strategy opposite Hezbollah. Think about it. If you knew that it would be possible to uproot the most warmongering of the Gazan brutes, in exchange for a price similar to the one we paid to silence the warmongering Lebanese brutes, would you support this course of action?
This is a difficult question to answer because no responsible forecaster could safely assert that a war that yielded substantial results in one battlefield would yield similar results on a different front. Anyone who disagrees with my opinion should remember that Cast Lead deterred our Gaza enemies for only a short time. Is that because we did not finish the work, or because there is no power on earth that can impose its will on Hamas and its splinter groups? My answer is based on the assumption that while power may not deter, a great deal of force will, indeed. During the Second Intifada period we even succeeded in emptying the reservoir of suicide bombers. It turned out that the 70 virgins waiting for the shahid in paradise have only limited power of enticement.
I have a theory about the difference between Netanyahu's and Olmert’s attitudes to large-scale war. Olmert advocates the return to clear borders that will define our national territory and what lies outside its borders. Netanyahu has no borders. He wants to snatch whatever he can get. One who champions the formation of clear borders adopts the desired geo-political reality the way all the other nations do: There is my land, and there is my neighbor’s land. Woe to the neighbor who violates my land. On the other hand, one whose borders are blurry and unclear will find it hard to decide when the time comes to break the neck of the assailant.