The Fate of Israel

Summary:  This is chapter two in a series of articles about grand strategy in our era, when 4GW has become the dominate form of war. This post shows the difficulty of distinguishing strong from weak in 4GW, and that choosing a wrong grand strategy can be terminal for a state.  It could easily prove fatal for Israel.  This was revised and reposted on 28 July 2014.

JFK: rise & fall of nations



  1. Introduction: about the war being fought in Lebanon
  2. Everyone knows Israel is stronger than the Palestinians
  3. Planning a Grand Strategy
  4. Strengths of the Palestinian people
  5. How can the Palestinian people defeat Israel?
  6. Other predictions of doom for Israel
  7. For more information

(1)  Introduction:  about the war now being fought in Lebanon

Current events in Lebanon might be of the highest importance, but not for the reasons usually given. The war shows no sign of spreading to Syria. Iran gives no sign of overt intervention. Middle East oil production appears safe from interruption from this particular conflict.

The real significance could be far greater than any of these things.  Israel appears to be losing.  This might be a turning point in Israel’s history, the start of its decline and fall.

Of course the campaign is not over, although the rising civilian casualties in Lebanon suggest that the US might be forced to broker a cease-fire in the next few weeks. There remains time for – as Stratfor believes – a surprise move by Israel to quickly win.  Still, Israel appears to be losing. Worse, losing not to a 4GW insurgency, but to static defenses more typical of 2nd generation warfare – which the IDF, skilled at 3rd generation war, should be able to easily defeat.

The IDF exhibits some of the classic symptoms of looming military defeat:


  1. Before the start, reconnaissance/intelligence failures plus underestimation of their opponents.
  2. Over-emphasis on air power, in contexts under which air power has typically failed.
  3. Slow progress, far below that required to meet minimum objects in the available time.
  4. Public debate by senior political and military officials on strategy, which suggests that the IDF”s elite officers have failed to adapt to the failure of their initial plan.

A tie by Hezbollah would be a major inflection point for the region. When the weak tie the strong it is a big psychological win for the weak. Hezbollah’s prestige would be greatly enhanced. The morale of Israel’s enemies (i.e., everybody else in the region) would rise. Hamas, taking notes on this campaign, would be emboldened.

A Hezbollah win – the IDF retreating while Hezbollah retains ability to fire rockets at Israel – would likely reshape geopolitics in the Middle East, intensifying the looming defeats of US in Iraq and Afghanistan.  A Hezbollah win would also mark another step in the rise of the Shiites, after centuries of defeat and oppression by both their Sunni “cousins” and colonial masters. Iran would rise in influence, nearer its probable goal of becoming the regional hegemon.

The consequences of all this are difficult to foresee, but likely large and long lasting.

(2)  Everyone knows Israel is stronger than the Palestinians

True, they do not even have a state, or a real one at any rate.  But measuring strength becomes more difficult in the age in which 4GW is the dominant form of war.  And this was never easy to do.

“So confident of victory were the French that many sat up late drinking, gambling and boasting about who would kill or capture whom. Some knights even painted a cart in which Henry V would be paraded through the streets of Paris!”
Description of the French camp on 24 October 1415, the night before Agincourt – the last of the 3 great English victories over the French during the Hundred Years War.

“You are now my prisoners. Let this be a lesson to you that Americans are weak. You must realize that Japan will rule the world. You are stupid for letting your leaders take you to war.”
Speech by Tetsunosuke Ariizumi, Commander of His Imperial Majesty’s submarine I-8, addressing captured Americans from the SS Jean Nicolet on 2 July 1944.

“No Viet-Minh cannon will be able to fire three rounds before being destroyed by my artillery.”
— Colonel Charles Piroth, French artillery commander at Dien Bien Phu, quoted in Hell in a Very Small Place, Bernard Fall (1966), p. 102.

“What we’re seeing here, in a sense, is the growing – the birth pangs of a new Middle East.”
— Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Special Press Briefing at Washington, 21 July 2006

Who has the best odds of long-term survival, Israel or the Palestinians?  Let’s compare their grand strategies.

(3)  Planning a Grand Strategy

To plan a successful grand strategy the strategist must know if he has a weak or strong position. Failure almost certainly results if he gets this fundamental fact wrong. Realist or idealist, this is the starting point for developing a grand strategy.  Unfortunately, history shows the difficulty of correctly determining weak from strong during times of rapid change.  For example, which looks stronger: a stateless people with no modern government, economy, or army – or a developed state with its vast superiority in ideas and hardware?

(1)  Israel, a western industrial nation, has rationally educated elites in a modern bureaucratic government. Israel’s army and intelligence service (the Mossad) are superior to their Palestinian counterparts in every way.

(2)  Israel has wielded these advantages to win many tactical victories over the Palestinians. For example, Thomas X. Hammes (Colonel, USMC, retited) describes how Israel won the second Intifadah in chapter 9 of his book, The Sling And The Stone.

(3)  The Palestinian people have none of Israel’s advantages: stateless, politically mobilized in only a primitive manner, with severe internal fractures, and a history of weak and self-interested leadership. Each year their enclaves on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank sink further into poverty and chaos.

So it seems reasonable that most analysts see Israel as strong and the Palestinians as an oppressed or weak underdog.

There are other perspectives on this war.  No matter how many or great are its tactical successes, Israel’s strategic picture grows dark. Losing allies. Losing land. Losing people. Perhaps even losing internal cohesion.  This should surprise nobody familiar with history. Germany proved that tactical excellence cannot overcome strategic weakness. And strategically Israel is very weak.

Grand Strategy: a state’s collective policy with respect to the external world.

Paul Kennedy defined it as “the capacity of the nation’s leaders to bring together all of the elements {of power}, both military and nonmilitary, for the preservation and enhancement of the nation’s long-term … best interests.”  (Grand Strategies in War and Peace, 1992)

From a Trinitarian perspective, it focuses and coordinates the diplomatic and military efforts of a state’s People, Government, and Army.

Israel’s national survival – perhaps even that of its individual citizens – depends upon a sound grand strategy to turn these strengths into victory, or at least survival. Whatever their Strategy, it’s not working.

Primal Strategy: often found in the early years of a society when its people have a “single-minded” commitment to a goal, often just a drive to grow. A “primal strategy” is an expression of a people’s core beliefs. It is non-intellectual, with no need for theories and plans.

The Palestinians show us the raw power of a primal strategy, a belief in a shared dream. They dream about the extermination of Israel. That is the official goal of Fatah, the former ruling party. Which is in turn losing strength to Hamas and Hezbollah, who seem even more dedicated to eliminating Israel. Their primal strategy forges the Palestinian people into a powerful weapon, against which Israel has few defenses.

Forging this resolve has taken generations. After Israel’s creation the Palestinians hoped that their fellow Arabs would destroy it. After Israel’s construction of atomic weapons circa 1968 and the failure of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Palestinians abandoned hope of eliminating Israel through conventional war. They chose the path of 4GW, which brings them victory – as it has for so many other peoples fighting modern western states.

Why is this so difficult to see? This quote from T.X. Hammes (Colonel, USMC, Retired) explains this blindness of western experts to Middle Eastern 4GW, one that applies equally well towards the Palestinians and the Iraqi insurgents. From his “Dealing With Uncertainty“, Marine Corps Gazette, November 2005 (reposted at the Small Wars Council):

Today’s insurgents do not plan for the Phase III conventional campaigns that were an integral part of Mao’s three-phased insurgency. They know they cannot militarily defeat the outside power. Instead, they seek to destroy the outside power’s political will so that it gives up and withdraws forces. They seek to do so by causing political, economic, social, and military damage to the target nation.

After being driven out of Fallujah in November 2004, Abu Musad al-Zarqawi wrote, “The war is very long, and always think of this as the beginning. And always make the enemy think that yesterday was better than today.”

(4)  Strengths of the Palestinian people

The Palestinian people have, in addition to greater and more rapidly growing numbers, seven great strategic advantages over Israel.

First, the Palestinians are weaker than Israel. Not only do Americans often admire underdogs, but also weakness is in itself a profound advantage. From Martin van Creveld’s “Why Iraq Will End as Vietnam Did” (2004):

In other words, he who fights against the weak – and the rag-tag Iraqi militias are very weak indeed – and loses, loses. He who fights against the weak and wins also loses. To kill an opponent who is much weaker than yourself is unnecessary and therefore cruel; to let that opponent kill you is unnecessary and therefore foolish. As Vietnam and countless other cases prove, no armed force however rich, however powerful, however advanced, and however well motivated is immune to this dilemma. The end result is always disintegration and defeat.

Much recent 4GW literature attributes an exaggerated significance to this theoretical effect, despite many counter-examples-near-genocidal warfare waged by states against weak groups with little or no global criticism. But given the Palestinian’s support by important elements in the developed nations and most less-developed states, is a powerful advantage for them – giving themselves and their supporters belief that they have the moral high ground.

Second, entropy acts as the Palestinian’s ally. It is easier to destroy than build. Israel must defend everything, while the Palestinians in the refugee camps show their willingness to tolerate a low standard of living while waiting for victory.

“He who defends everything defends nothing.”
— Frederick The Great (1712-1786)

Third, the increasing concentration of global oil production in the Middle East strengthens the Palestinian’s allies, and weakens willingness of developed nations to challenge them. Ever since Nigeria’s 1966 blockade and starvation of the Biafran people, developed nations will tolerate almost anything to ensure reliable access to oil.

Fourth, western nations-on whose support Israel dependents for financial support and trade-hold Israel to higher ethical standards than they hold the Palestinians. Palestinians can kill Jewish children with only mild condemnation. The UN does not stop food and medical supplies to the refugee camps. The EU does not stop financial aid to Palestinian Authority. Their Arab brothers never threaten to disown them unless they follow the Geneva Conventions.

Fifth, demographic trends point to increasing and inevitable weakness of Israel vs. the Palestinians. Demographics often decide ethnic rivalries. The Palestinians’ higher fertility rates inexorably increase their advantage over Israel and might eventually give them a voting majority in Israel. Neither certain nor precise forecasts are possible due to lack of reliable data on Palestinian population, emigration rates, and fertility rates.

The recent fighting in Lebanon has revealed two more strategic advantages of Israel’s opponents:

Sixth, the success of Israel’s counter-insurgency strikes against Hamas and Hezbollah have resulted in a “Darwinian ratchet”.  Israel’s security services cull the ranks of the insurgency. This eliminates the slow and stupid, clearing space for the “best” to rise in authority. “Best” in the sense of those most able to survive, recruit, and train new ranks of insurgents. The more severe Israel’s efforts at exterminating the insurrection, the more ruthless the survivors.  Hence the familiar activity pattern of a rising sine wave, seen in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Iraq, and a dozen other places: successes by the security forces, a pause in activity, followed by another wave of activity – but bigger and more effective. The resurgence of Hamas and Hezbollah fits this pattern, and both have obviously taken Israel by surprise.

Seventh, in 1978 Egypt dealt the IDF a serious blow, which may prove fatal for Israel. The Camp David accords eliminated any serious conventional military threat to Israel. Since then the IDF has acted as police agency, fighting various kinds of insurgents.  It is possible this has “rotted” away the IDF’s core competencies, explaining its otherwise baffling strategic and tactical failures in the current campaign.

(5)  How can the Palestinian people defeat Israel?

Their actions appear limited to exerting pressure – economic, terror, political – on Israel, pushing individual Israelis onto one of two tracks.

  1. Supporting negotiations with the Palestinians. The Palestinians can sequentially renegotiate these into total victory, as we did with the American Indians, and as Rome did with Carthage. This is incremental surrender.
  2. Emigrating, leaving Israel for safer and more prosperous lands.

Progress has been considerable on both tracks, especially the second. Immigration to Israel peaked in 1990 at over 200 thousand. In 2003 and 2004, for the first time, Israel had almost equal number of immigrants and emigrants. This powerfully magnifies the Palestinians’ higher fertility rate.

Mao would have appreciated the commitment of the Palestinians as they wage a protracted struggle against Israel. From Mao ‘s “To be attacked by the enemy is not a bad thing but a good thing“, 26 May 1939:

I hold that it is bad as far as we are concerned if a person, a political party, an army or a school is not attacked by the enemy, for in that case it would definitely mean that we have sunk to the level of the enemy. It is good if the enemy attacks us, since it proves that we have drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves. It is still better if the enemy attacks us wildly and paints us as utterly black and without a single virtue; it demonstrates that we have not only drawn a clear line of demarcation between the enemy and ourselves but also achieved a great deal in our work. …

We still have to wage a protracted struggle against bourgeois and petty-bourgeois ideology.

It seems obvious who will win. Israel might last 100 years if its people are both lucky and skillful. Nevertheless, in the future only historians will know that the war’s outcome was ever in doubt. Much as today’s students see the Hundred Years War between England and France, Israel’s end will seem inevitable to them.

Whatever grand strategies Israel has used since their conquest of the West Bank and Gaza — and this paper has discussed only the results, not the specifics — have failed. However theoretical the debates over a state’s grand strategy, the stakes are of the highest kind.

Can any grand strategy by Israel overcome such odds at this late date?  As Peter O’Toole said as Lawrence of Arabia in the movie of that title, “Nothing is written.” However, it seems clear how to bet. As so often in history, bet on the horrible outcome. It looks like another tragedy in the making, another destruction of Israel, and Diaspora for the Jewish people.

Israel might provide another example of a failed grand strategy proving terminal.

Could another strategy have succeeded, allowing Israel to survive? That’s a debate for historians, but a powerful warning for America.

And the tears flow on forever
Southward in silent ranks
They flow to the Jordan River
And overrun the banks.

— Heinrich Heine’s Rabbi of Bacharach (1840)

(6)  Other predictions of doom for Israel

  1. “Will Israel live to 100?, Bernard Schwartz, The Atlantic Magazine, May 2005. (Subscription required)
  2. History and demographics are ganging up on Israel”, Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times (2 July 2002)
  3. Israel is Doomed”, Israel Shamir, May 19 2001
  4. Preparing for the Evacuation of Israel, Franz Gayl (Major, USMC, retired, 6 March 2012

(7)  For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp relevance to this topic:

  1. About Iran – will the US or Israel attack Iran?
  2. About Military and strategic theory

Posts on the FM site about Israel:

  1. The Fate of Israel, 28 July 2006
  2. The War Nerd shows how simple 4GW theory can be, 22 January 2009
  3. Are Israel’s leaders insane?  Jeffrey Goldberg thinks so., 15 August 2010
  4. We can only watch as the nation of Israel slowly commits suicide, 30 November 2011
  5. Israel leads America on a march to war.  A march to folly., 16 February 2012
  6. Preparing for the Evacuation of Israel, 6 March 2012
  7. Israel becomes its enemy, 20 November 2012
  8. Why Israel didn’t win in Gaza, 6 December 2012

Posts on the FM site about a possible attack on Iran by Israel:

  1. Will Israel commit suicide? More rumors of a strike at Iran , 22 December 2007
  2. Does reading Debkafile make us smarter, or dumber?, 15 June 2008
  3. A new story about a possible war with Iran, 21 May 2008 — About the 20 May Jerusalem Post story, originally reported by Army Radio (see below).
  4. “As things look, Israel may well attack Iran soon”. 3 June 2008 — About the Fischer story in the 30 May Daily Star.
  5. “Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable” . 8 June 2008  — War-talk by a former Defense Minster of Israel.
  6. Der Spiegel: “Israeli Ministers Mull Plans for Military Strike against Iran”. 17 June 2008 — Rumors in Der Spiegel of a strike by Israel on Iran.
  7. More rumors of a strike at Iran by Israel, 1 July 2008 — More rumors.
  8. Leaks about a possible strike at Iran (this is a hot issue), 7 July 2008 — Leaks of concerns about the effectiveness of a strike by Israel, and the consequences.
  9. The most expensive psy-war campaign – ever!, 13 July 2008
  10. ISIS: “Can Military Strikes Destroy Iran’s Gas Centrifuge Program? Probably Not.”, 8 August 2008



26 thoughts on “The Fate of Israel”

  1. I do not understand Israel except to comment that never in the history of Mankind has a nation been so determind to “snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory”. There are so many examples but to take one: Lebanon 2006.

    Hezbollah had been constantly reducing its forces as it continued to evolve into a social/political group (e.g Labour or Republicans). There was real hope of a united Lebanon. It’s economy was doing well. There was real hope of a stable, properous country emerging.

    So what did Isreal do. Not pump money into it. Not do a ‘Sadat’ moment and have a peace treaty. No, that would have meant an, at least, neutral Northern neighbour. Prosperous, with growing economic links to Israel. Ah, a peaceful border at last.

    No can’t have that can we, so they blew the crap out of the country and got thumped militarily.

    So you have to ask some questions about their brains and their desires. Do they want peace, no hell not. Do they want security, no hell not. Do they want economic development, no hell not (their economy has been tanking for years, without US money they would go down the tubes).

    So what do they want? Obviously by their actions they want .. whatever as long as the US kills Moslems, it changes from day to day. Water from the Lantani river? Well pay for it, don’t invade (well you can try but Hezbollah will thump you).

    As I said I don’t understand them. Maybe the leaders are all morons, that would explain it, sort of.
    Fabius Maximus replies: “Their leaders are all morons” assumes that “their people are all morons”, since it is a democratic republic. I think we can dismiss this explanation.

    This post gives an alternative explanation (implicitly): defective grand strategy. This is often terminal. Bad tactics are quickly obvious, and relatively easy to change. Bad strategy becomes apparent more slowly, and is more difficult to change.

    Grand strategy, one’s relationship to the world, is so large as to be difficult to see — let alone determine if working well — and often impossible to change except in the face of abject failure.

  2. Rene Louis Beres wrote an interesting article called the “Paradoxes of Power” (Washington Times, 17 November 2004), he points out that Israel is starting to be seen as a Goliath and is therefore in fact weak in usable power. I cannot help but notice that those whose constant refrain that Israel is losing are in fact Israel’s staunchest (some might say fanatical) supporters. Martin Van Creveld’s assertions may fall into that category. Israels biggest long term problem may be that it is not LA — many of its young would rather be in LA acording to Beres.

  3. Israel is mentally weak. If they ignored the press, they would crush the Palestinians as the Palestinians wish to crush them. If they worry about world opinion they will lose — since world opinion wishes them all dead, as do the Palestinians.

  4. Israel is mentally weak. If they ignored the press, they would crush the Palestinians as the Palestinians wish to crush them. If they worry about world opinion they will lose — since world opinion wishes them all dead, as do the Palestinians.

    Israel isn’t “mentally weak”, it’s sensible (at least in this case). Its leaders know that Israel isn’t dependent for its survival on world opinion. It’s dependent for its survival on American elite opinion. And American elite opinion wouldn’t tolerate a solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant policy towards the Palestinians, especially one paid for with American aid money and carried out with American weapons, and probably beamed live onto TV screens around the world.

  5. Israel is suffering the same problems as the West. Declining populations, lack of internal cohesion, and a lack of confidence in it’s own beliefs. This leads to policy out of desperation instead of planning to acheive specific goals. It is a form of rot which only the extreme challenges of national survival seems to clear out of the system. We just may get to learn this lesson very soon ourselves.

  6. Robert Petersen

    Good points of view. Israel is today at a position were it is forced to wage constant war against the Palestinians. They win – of course – but the conflict simply won’t go away because the Palestinians won’t go away. In many ways Israel is like a so-called Gated Community complete with its own security wall or fence – surrounded by a slum of poor and angry Palestinians. The wall or fence keeps them out, but can’t prevent rocket or mortar attacks. There is no real solution to this problem except if the Israelis one day would make a genuine peace, simply because it is only a matter of time before the strategic balance will begin to favor the Arabs. Israel is only a military superpower in the Middle East because of its own military excellence and because of strong military and financial support from the United States. As the war in Lebanon in 2006 showed Israel’s military excellence is failing and the financial crash of 2008 heralds the beginning of the end of the American superpower. Support from the United States will not be assured forever.

    So unless the Israelis would like to suffer the fate of the crusaders, who ended up hiding themselves in their castles like Krak de Chevaliers in Syria they should make peace. However – as I pointed out – since Israel in many ways is like a gated community this is not only a political problem but also a social and economic problem. Real peace would mean that Israel would become a multinational country and not a Jewish nation. It would have to share its resources with the Palestinians and accept a lower living standard for its own citizens. That strikes at the very center of the identity of the Israeli state and perhaps this price is simply to high to pay. Peace is the only solution, but the price might not be acceptable.

  7. I think the Iranian Nuclear Capability will have a balancing effect on the regional power balance and will accelerate the leakage in Israeli population.

  8. What a fascinating and unexpected response to this topic. What would you do next , if you were the Israeli and US govs ?

    Offer any Israelis who could be persuaded to leave , free homes ( to save demolition ! ) in the US ; make Palestine a united , non discrimatory secular state , containing Palestinians and those Israelis who wanted to give it a go ; occupy the angry young men with rebuilding projects . But does even a reunited Palestine have the natural resources to support its poplation ? If there is insufficient farmland , no significant oil or minerals , the recession means the world doesnt want to buy high tech or tat , surrounding countries have enough cheap labour …

    When I was a student , working on a Kibbutz was a popular thing for lefties to go do in holidays (anti apartheid protests were for termtime!) , talk was of a land of crops and orchards ; but pictures of Israel now seem to show sand and sparse grass .

  9. FM’s 2006 post is pretty thorough and indisputable. The following though is not true:

    western nations-on whose support Israel dependents for financial support and trade-hold Israel to higher ethical standards than they hold the Palestinians. Palestinians can kill Jewish children with only mild condemnation. The UN does not stop food and medical supplies to the refugee camps. The EU does not stop financial aid to Palestinian Authority. Their Arab brothers never threaten to disown them unless they follow the Geneva Conventions.

    US elite and media routinely ignore the realities of Israeli occupation and call Israel’s criminal military actions defensive measures against Palestinian provocations.

    Martin Van Creveld and others may be right that the Zionist vision of Greater Israel, or any Israel at all, is doomed in the long run, but getting there will require a major change in US strategy toward the Middle East, which strategy is so deeply embedded in our culture and political institutions it’s practically unthinkable.

  10. Old South Confederate

    Hezbollah will thump you

    Hezbollah (and Hamas) are cowards. They hide behind civilian human shields. Any opponent with the strength of Israel willing to use full-force, we-do-not-care-about-collateral-damage rules of engagement would wipe them both out in a month – or less. Like the Syrian Army did to the Muslim Brotherhood at Hama in 1982. Fortunately for the two cowardly terrorist organizations Hezbollah and Hamas the Israelis choose to show tremendous restraint and fight with one hand tied behind their back.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Calling folks “cowards” is a reminant of a long-lost “honor culture” (about which James Bowman has written at length).

    We rain death down from sky, from manned and unmanned aircraft — killing scores, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands. The Syrian army used artillary to kill thousands (perhaps tens of thousands) of unarmed civilians, women and children, in the city of Hama (1982, see Wikipedia). And you call Hezbollah and Hamas cowards.

    You have a fine sense of the different distinctions to calculate courage and honor.

  11. Comment above, in part:

    “There is no real solution to this problem except if the Israelis one day would make a genuine peace….Real peace would mean that Israel would become a multinational country and not a Jewish nation. It would have to share its resources with the Palestinians and accept a lower living standard for its own citizens.”

    I have trouble believing my eyes here. I believe that “genuine peace” in this instance means a negotiated surrender. Goodnight, goodbye, farewell. It much reminds me of the phrase, “better red than dead.” Perhaps, but I would choose liberty and take my chances.

  12. Against international law and several repeated commitments, Israel has relentlessly pushed its settlement program in the West Bank, to the point that there is no contiguous land left on which to base a viable Palestinian state. Ironically this has eliminated the “two-state” solution as an option.

    If Israel is to remain a Jewish-only theocratic state, it must then either drive out or eliminate all the remaining one and half million Palestinians, or confine them in apartheit-like bantustans, without full citizenship rights. This is the pattern that’s been emerging for the past ten years, and it’s one that will never achieve peace and security for Israel because it will leave an increasingly desparate Palestinian society with no way to achieve its goals except though violence.

    The other option is the “one-state” solution, a multi-religious, multi-ethnic state in which Palestinians have equal rights as citizens. This is anethema to Israel’s current leaders because they know that in ten years Palestinians will outnumber Jews in Israel. But such a state could be devised with constitutional protection for future minorities. It sounds utopian, but it may be the only way to avoid total annihilation or expulsion of the Palestinian population, and/or Israel’s eventual collapse (the latter coming about throough ex-migration which will increases as life in Israel becomes more and more insecure.)

    Helena Cobban (Just World News) has a post today which argues convincingly that Israel can’t possibly achieve the goal of its current offensive of eliminating Hamas.

  13. I strongly recommend reading this: “For Sderot, Help Is Not on the Way“, Martin van Creveld, op-ed in The Forward, 24 December 2008 — Here is his Wikipedia profile. Excerpt:

    The war with Hezbollah in the summer of 2006 revealed what Israel has become after 25 years of fighting opponents much weaker than itself, first in Lebanon and then in the occupied territories — a weak country with a weak government populated by a people with little appetite for a real fight.

  14. The van Creveld article is a revelation… one of the best military analysts of the era predicting that what would happen two days later would absolutely not happen. Of course he misread the political/emotional aspect, which is easy to do. The situation is way too muddled by that… I mean, what is the mayor of New York City doing over there taking tactical positions?

    The sad thing is that there was an opportunity post 9-11 to fix this with money… take the trillion or so we have bled into the sands of Mesopotamia and instead of the Iraq War, extend the no fly zone to the Shias, and plunge the rest of the money into a territorial solution with peacekeeping forces involving the Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, Syrians, Lebanese and Egyptians. That would leave Saddam Hussein in charge of a rump Sunni state, and he and bin Laden and Ahmedinejad would be stripped of the high ground, no grand cause to support. But now the money is gone.

    And as moronic as American policy has been in the area, the real culprits are the Germans, Turks, and British… they should be the ones to have to fix it. Justice will be served, however, in the next world;-).

  15. Rome defeated Carthage mainly because of the superiority of its political institutions, and I think this is the decisive factor in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Israel’s political institutions (and military ones as well) are more flexible, adaptable, and resilient than those of their opponents. A small amount of “give” on the settlements issue at some point in the indefinite future might start the Palestinian Authority down the slippery slope of “governance” where the energy needed to improve people’s livelihood absorbs more and more of the energy required to wage even 4GW. Long-term optimism, to be sure, and I confess to frequent lurches into Panglossianism. But I wouldn’t write off the Israelis yet, even if a revered intellectual giant like van Creveld is ready to do so.

  16. Great note I missed in 2006.
    But I’m wondering about this: A Hezbollah win – the IDF retreating while Hezbollah retains ability to fire rockets at Israel – would likely reshape geopolitics in the Middle East, intensifying the looming defeats of US in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Maybe this Israeli loss inspired Bush to call for the surge?
    That surge which is, in fact, winning in Iraq, contrary to the “looming defeat” expected of the West?

    I’m glad you mention evacuation of Israel — letting any and all Jews from Israel leave to come to America might be a fine way to reduce the US housing over-supply, as well as increase the power of the Israeli fundamentalists who remain.

    Israeli’s democracy is, perhaps fatally, flawed. It has a proportionate representation system which allows too many parties to get into parliament, and then have too much influence over the coalition gov’t. Israel should copy Slovakia (for instance) and require some 5% of votes for any party to get any seats. The far more stable ‘two party’ system of the US is a better long term system.

  17. 1. “Demographic bomb” is highly exaggerated thing. Ultra-orthodox sector of Israeli society has higher growth rate than Arab sector. The Western Civilization should worry about their demographic survivor, not Israel.

    2. Yes, Israeli generals have to take into consideration western standards of treatment of war opponents, but these standards are falling dramatically. And I’m not sure how much of these standards will stand after the next “911”.

    Only patience will help Israel, not radical solutions.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Do you have any evidence to support your point #1? Contrary evidence is easy to find.

    * “The demographics point to a binational state“, Yair Sheleg, Haaretz Newspaper — This is a long and detailed article. A brief excerpt:

    In the third area, birth, the Arab population enjoys a clear-cut advantage. While the average birth rate for a Jewish woman is 2.6 births, for an Arab woman it is 4.6. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the Arab sector recorded 30 percent of all births in the country in 2002. … According to the CBS, birth rates in the Jewish sector have remained very stable: from 3.5 births at the establishment of the state, the average rate has slowly and quietly dropped to the current 2.6 births (with a brief leap to four births in the early 1950s, when large Jewish families arrived from the Muslim countries).

    For more detail see “FERTILITY IN ISRAEL: IS THE TRANSITION TO REPLACEMENT LEVEL IN SIGHT?“, Dov Friedlander (Department of Population Studies, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), published by the UN.

  18. The Israelis remind me both of the first Western outpost in the Levant – the Kingdom of Jerusalem – as well as their philosophical parent, the French First Empire. Like that regime Israel was founded as a martial state. Like Napoleonic France, Israel is an order of magnitude better organized militarily than their enemies. Like the First Empire, Israel fights and wins and fights and wins without ever translating that into long-term survival. It can win the war, but not the peace.

    For Napoleon it was perfidious Albion; for the Israelis it will be the wearing reality that they cannot genocide the Palestinians and they can’t stand living forever with the constant pinprick bloodshed and the wartime tension that keeping a boot on the Palestinian neck requires. Eventually, I suppose, the Arabs will throw up another Saladin and that will be the end for Israel.

    Sykes, Picot, Balfour and the “statesmen” of 1948 and 1967 have a lot to answer for…
    Fabius Maximus replies: No, IMO they do not. They are dead. Like the rest of us, they did the best they could. They saw the errors made 50 years in their past just as clearly as we see their errors.

  19. Fabius Maximus, from the link, you gave me: “FERTILITY IN ISRAEL: IS THE TRANSITION TO REPLACEMENT LEVEL IN SIGHT?“

    The fertility level of these two groups combined has been high, probably around 5.5 births per woman in the 1950s. Between these two groups the ultra-orthodox experienced the highest, over 6 births per woman in the 1950s.

    Even National Religious group has higher birth rate (5.5), then Arab group (4.6).
    Fabius Maximus replies: There is no point trolling thru these for factoids. Look at the conclusions, which take into account relative numbers and trends.

  20. OK, I can agree on one thing, that Israel as a DEMOCRATIC and SECULAR state is doomed. The fact that Israel will be forced to follow Jordan’s or Egypt’s style of governing will not affect good relations with USA in military and financial area.

    However, it would be a major defeat to the West in this part of the world.

  21. Oh God, 2 years later and we are here back again. More deaths, more US taxpayers money wasted. Heck Israel could kill everyone in Gaza and strategically achieve nothing.

    Sorry, best guess is that this whole thing is an election ploy to boost certain parties in Israel, which is the most tragic thing at all. Because it means they have no strategy at all.

    Bye Israel, in its present form, you will not be missed. Not by many Israeli’s (economy tanking, regular wars, ever increasing amount of people in poverty, and what do you think the global financial crash will so to them?), not by Palestinians, not by Lebanese, not by Syrians .. well actually not by a lot of people just about everywhere.

    I mean let’s face it, it is an embarassment to the West and a financial and strategic drain on the US, e.g. lots of people in the US air force would love all those shiny new planes they have, especially given that just about every F-15 and F-16 is clapped out.

    It hampers every strategic move the US makes in the Middle East, leaving the way clear for China and Russia (et al) to move in. Its influence over many in the political and bureaucratic US ‘elites’ borders on treason (seems at times it crosses the line). And, as we all know, it will sell the US down the gurgler anytime it can make a buck (hey China want the secrets to the F-22, well do have we a deal for you).

    Time for the US to cut it off at the knees (“bye and thanks for all the fish”).

    Gut feel? Without endless and limitless US economic and military support Israel will get its nut jobs under control and will make some very fast deals in its region, to both its own and its neighbours betterment. You never know, they might actually start getting a real economy going again.

  22. Good f***in’ riddance. But I’m worried ’bout how those HATE israel to the core MIGHT DO in future to those livin’ within its borders. What goes around…

  23. YT, even ‘worst case’ (from an Israeli perspective) with total end of US military and economic aid Israel will easily be able to defend itself.

    What will end is its overwhelming superiority that encourages overreach, so its propensity to deal with any problem by reaching for the ‘military solution’ (an oxymoron if you have ever came heard of one), will end.

    Morever it may actually find that diplomacy and economics will achieve far, far more, probably even in the quite short term.

    Think it through, even with its current economic problems, it still has capital and a highly educated population. It also has cousins right next door to it who also have a similar love of education, plus they are poor. Doesn’t take much of a capitalist brain to see those opportunities. Add in Lebanon (always quick to grab a chance of a buck), Syria (ditto), etc and you can see quite a regional economic powerhouse developing before too long.

    And nothing, just nothing, erodes political/religious/tribal/etc differences faster than making money.

  24. FM note: this comment was moved to this thread:

    I’m posting a comment on a very obvious threat, which is being deliberately ignored. Request Fabius Maximus to re organize the blog contents to place this where it belongs.
    I wouldn’t bet any long term money in the State of Israel. Israel is unlikely to survive, it has at most a decade left. Once Islamic Republic of Iran acquires a nuclear strike capability, it will wage a traditional military war against Israel and destroy it.
    India will survive for the rest of my lifetime.Beyond that, I don’t know.
    That also goes for all the Western nation states. Within a span of a couple of generations they will be destroyed. Replaced with Islamic Republics.
    Fabius Maximus will deny my prescient conclusions and my factual analysis of the history of Islam. Islam was militarily forced on an area larger than two modern continents through the process of the Quranic Jihad. The Quranic Jihad is back again in full force. This time it will consume the rest of the world.

  25. what our friend does not realize is that the modern nation state of israel does not exist in a vacuum it is simply a smaller part of the larger, primal force of the jewish people if israel is simply a creation of herzl and an outgrowth of british imperialism, then it is doomed but it is not

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