Monday, November 26, 2012

Essays on War

Essays on War

Prof. Paul Eidelberg

Carl von Clausewitz (1770-1831)

Clausewitz’s magnum opus, On War, is studied in military schools to this day. He defines war as “an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will. Violence is the means; submission of the enemy to our will the ultimate object.” For as long as the enemy remains armed, he will wait for a more favorable moment for action.

The ultimate object of war is political. To attain this object fully, the enemy must be disarmed. Disarming the enemy “becomes therefore the immediate object of hostilities. It takes the place of the final object and puts it aside as something we can eliminate from our calculations.”

Clausewitz warns: “Philanthropists may readily imagine there is a skillful method of disarming and overcoming an enemy without causing great bloodshed, and that this is the proper tendency of the Art of War. However plausible this may appear, still it is an error which must be extirpated; for in such dangerous things as war, the errors which proceed from a spirit of benevolence are the worst.”

Not that Clausewitz advocates indiscriminate slaughter. He warns, however, that “he who uses force unsparingly, without reference to the bloodshed involved, must obtain a superiority if his adversary uses less vigor in its application.” Hence, “Let us not hear of Generals who conquer without bloodshed. If a bloody slaughter is a horrible sight, then that is a ground for paying more respect to War, but not for making the sword we wear blunter and blunter by degrees from feelings of humanity, until someone steps in with one that is sharp and lops off the arm from our body.”

It follows that moderation or self-restraint as a principle of war is absurd and suicidal. To defeat the enemy the means must be proportioned to his power of resistance, and his power of resistance must be utterly crushed.

The statesman must take into account not only the forces of the enemy. He must solidify the confidence and determination of his people. They must believe in the justice of their country's cause and understand the importance of victory as well as the consequences of defeat. The statesman must display wisdom, decisiveness, and moral clarity.

Above all the statesman must have, in his own mind, a clear view of his post-war goal or political object. The political object will determine the aim of military force as well as the amount of force or effort to be used.

This, by the way, is the crucial point of any Israeli attack on Gaza. Does the Government have a clear view of the goal or political object of this war? Is its military echelon geared to go beyond “Operation Iron Lead” and so devastate Hamas as to sear from the consciousness of these Muslims any further desire to attack Israel?□

Sun Tzu

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, written about 500 BCE, is the oldest military treatise in the world. Even now, after twenty-five centuries, the basic principles of that treatise remain a valuable guide for the conduct of war. Indeed, Sun Tzu may be of interest to the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, in view of the Arab Terrorist War that erupted in September2000. Since then some 1,500 Jewish men, women, and children have been murdered by Arab terrorists, and 15,000 more have been wounded, many maimed for life.

Referring to the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF’s) limited response to this Arab terrorism, former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said, “self-restraint is strength”! At first glance one might suspect that Mr. Sharon had been influence by Mother Theresa. It may well be, however, that he derived that dictum from a misreading of The Art of War? Sun Tzu would have an army general exhibit, at first, “the coyness of a maiden”—to draw out the enemy—but thereafter he would have his general emulate the fierceness of a lion.

Of course, when the forces of the enemy exceed your own or occupy superior ground, then self-restraint is prudence. But when this situation is reversed, self-restraint is weakness. In fact, Sun Tzu goes so far as to say, “If fighting is reasonably sure to result in victory, then you must fight, even though the ruler forbids it.”

In referring to various ways in which a ruler can bring misfortune upon his army and his people, Sun Tzu cautions a ruler against “attempting to govern an army in the same way as he administers a kingdom.” Although “In war, the general receives his commands from the sovereign,” “he will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.” Sun Tzu emphasizes that there are even occasions when the “commands of the sovereign must not be obeyed.”

Of course, this would violate the principle of military subordination to civilian authority, which Israel’s political leaders would proclaim to preserve their democratic reputation, especially in the United States. This perfidious attitude would multiply Jewish casualties and Jewish soldiers on the alter of PR.

In this connection, recall the Yom Kippur War, in which 3,000 Jewish soldiers perished. Certain general officers of the IDF obeyed the commands of the Meir Government by not launching a pre-emptive attack. Later, the Agranat Commission of Inquiry blamed them for the disaster. Sun Tsu might have agreed with the Agranat conclusion, but for different reasons. He would have faulted the generals for “self-restraint,” that is, for heeding the commands of their Government.

Admittedly, Sun Tzu did not have to worry about journalists and humanists who make the rational conduct of war impossible, and who therefore prolong the killing. When U.S. Admiral Bull Halsey said, “Hit hard, hit fast, hit often,” he was merely echoing Sun Tzu’s advice. By the way, this advice can also be gleaned from the Sages of Israel.

Thus, concerning Deuteronomy 20:1, “When you go forth to battle against your enemies,” the Sages ask, “What is meant by ‘against your enemies’”? They answer: “God said, ‘Confront them as enemies. Just as they show you no mercy, so should you not show them any mercy.’”

Sun Tzu would therefore be appalled by the alacrity with which Israeli governments engage in cease fires or “hudnas,” which allow Arab terrorists to regroup and accumulate more and deadlier weapons. Sun Tzu calls for the uninterrupted attack. He unequivocally opposes a protracted war: “There is no instance,” he says, “of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.”

Hence Israel’s Government must ignore the inanities of sheltered critics—of jaded intellectuals and politicians who preach “self-restraint” as if Hiroshima and Dresden never happened. The paramount concern of Israel’s political and military echelons is to minimize Jewish casualties. Horrible as it is, peace-loving Israel, confronted by a genocidal enemy, must kill for peace.□

A War Silent About God

   Prof. PaulEidelberg               Israel, a nation that bears God’s Name, has leaders who cannotpronounce the Name of God. It seems that not a single Prime Minister of this countrycan invoke the Name of God without choking.   Nor is a word is there heard a word inspired by the Prophets ofIsrael or by King David. This treasury of wisdom has been left to rabbis. Allhonor to them, but they seem silent.   Imagine: Suppose the rabbis invoked the name of Clausewitz orof Sun Tzu or of General George Patton. Wouldn’t that be marvelous (as well as hilarious)?     Hence it’s hardly an exaggeration to say that Israeli primeministers are not only without God; they are also far removed from the greatestmasters of war—and who is a greater master of war than He Who gave Israel the wisdomof the Torah?   Having banished God from the domain of statecraft, and withoutan illumination from Israel’s rabbis, is it any wonder that Israel’s governmentlacks wisdom, courage, and Jewish national pride and purpose?   Why is Israel always on the defensive? Is it because herruling elites are godless in contrast to Israel’s enemies? Notice how Jewish primeministers have consorted with Arab despots such as Yasser Arafat or hissuccessor Mahmoud Abbas who never fail to invoke the name of Allah. Nevermind the hypocrisy and murderous heart of these Arabs. Because they sanctifiedAllah, the world sanctified them, while Israel, in the eyes of the world, is a pariah.   The asymmetry between Arab and Jewish leaders can be seen inthe psychological consequences of their respective goals.Whereas the Arab goal of conquest arouses Arab pride and arrogance, the Jewishgoal of “peaceful coexistenceâ€� or “two states for two peopleâ€� arouses Jewishself-effacement.   Israel without God is Israel without spiritedness, without thewill to conquer her enemies by fulfilling their desire to enter paradise. 

Daniel Greenfield article: Incidentism 

This is just brilliant!Daniel Greenfield article: Incidentism ________________________________Incidentism Posted: 18 Nov 2012 09:24 PM PST Once upon a time it was the objective of the military to win wars. Now the objective of the military is to avoid incidents. An incident happens when civilians are killed, prisoners mistreated or some other event that is photographed, videotaped and then flashed around the world. This results in an Incident, capital I, that triggers much artificial soul-searching by the media which spends the next two years beating the incident to death and flogging its corpse across television programs, newspaper articles, books, documentaries and finally, if it's a big enough incident, a real life movie version that is based on the book, which was based on the article, where the idealistic reporter/lawyer/activist who uncovered the truth about the incident will be played by Matt Damon or George Clooney. The main objective of the military in most civilized countries is to prevent this chain of articles, programs, books, documentaries, dramatized plays and Matt Damon movies from coming about by making sure that no Incident can ever happen. And the best way to do that is by not fighting. Andif the enemy insists on fighting, then he must be fought with razor sharp precision so that no collateral damage takes place. And if someone must die, it had better be our own soldiers, rather than anyone on the other side whose death might be used as an Incident. Incidentism isn't derived from a fear of Matt Damon movies, but from the perception that wars are not won on the battlefield, but in the minds of men. And that perception has a good deal to do with the kind of wars we choose to fight. The military, whether in the United States or Israel, does not exist to win wars. It exists to win over the people who don't want it to win a war. The guiding principle in such conflicts is to use the military to push back the insurgency long enough to win over the local population with a nation building exercise. This program has never worked out for the United States, but that doesn't mean that generations of military leaders don't insist on going throughthe motions of applying it anyway. In Israel, the last time the military was sent to win a war, was 1973. Since then the military has been used as a police force and to battle militias in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. In the Territories, the ideal Israeli soldier was supposed to be able to dodge rocks thrown by teenagers hired by Time correspondents looking to score a great photo. Today the ideal Israeli soldier is capable of visiting an American college campus to dodge the overpriced textbooks hurled at him by the local branch of Students for Justice in Palestine or the International Socialist Organization, while explaining why the IDF is the most moral army in the world except for the Salvation Army. The ideal Israeli soldier, like his American, British and Canadian, but not Russian or Chinese, counterparts, is supposed to avoid Incidents. That means operating under Rules of Engagement which make firing at an assailant almost as dangerous as notfiring at an assailant. The ideal American soldier is supposed to avoid the Taliban, or as one set of orders urged, patrol in places where the Taliban won't be found. And that's sensible advice, because if the goal is to avoid creating an Incident, then avoiding the enemy is the best way to avoid an Incident. Unfortunately the enemy has a bad habit of appearing where he isn't supposed to be and creating his own Incidents, because Taliban and Hamas commanders are not concerned about being yelled at in a fictional courtroom by Matt Damon. They actually welcome Incidents. The bigger and bloodier the Incident, the more hashish and young boys get passed around the campfire that night. American soldiers operate under the burden of winning over the hearts and minds of Afghans and New York Times readers. Israeli soldiers are tasked with winning over New York Times readers and European politicians. But some hearts and minds are just unwinnable. And most warsbecome unwinnable when the goal is to fight an insurgency that has no fear of the dreaded Incident, while your soldiers are taught to be more afraid of an Incident than of an enemy bullet. Israeli leaders live in perpetual fear of "losing the sympathy of the world", little aware that they never really had it. The "Sympathy of the World" is the strategic metric for conflicts. And so Israel does its best to minimize any collateral damage by using pinpoint strikes and developing technologies that can pluck a bee off a flower without harming a single petal. But invariably the technocratic genius of such schemes has its limits, an Incident happens, the Israeli leftist press denounces the Prime Minister for clumsily losing the sympathy of the world, and international politicians order Israel to retreat back behind whatever line it retreated to during the last appeasement gesture before the last peace negotiations. And its experts ponder how to fight the next one without losing the sympathy of the world. American and Israeli generals live in fear of losing political support and so they never put any plans on the table that would finish aconflict. Instead they choose low intensity warfare with prolonged bleeding instead of short and brutal engagements that would finish the job. They talk tough, but their enemies know that they don't mean it. Worse still, that they aren't allowed to mean it because meaning it would be too mean. Incidentism leads to armies tiptoeing around conflicts and losing them by default. Avoiding them becomes the objective and that also makes Incidents inevitable because the enemy understands that all it will take to win is a few dead children planted in the ruins of a building; in a region where parents kill their own children for petty infractions and frequently go unpunished for it. The more an army commits to Incidentism, the sooner its war is lost. Prolonged low intensity conflicts are ripe with opportunities for Incidents, far more so that hot and rapid wars. And so the hearts and minds, those of the locals and those of New York Times readers, always end upbeing lost anyway. War is no longer just politics by other means, it actually is politics with the goal of winning over hearts and minds, rather than achieving objectives. The objectives of a war, before, during and after, have become those of convincing your friends and your enemies, and various neutral parties, of your innate goodness and the justice of your cause. Propaganda then has become the whole of war and those who excel at propaganda, but aren't any good at war, now win the wars. The actual fighting is just the awkward part that the people who make the propaganda wish we could dispense with so they can focus on what's really important; distributing photos of our soldiers protecting the local children and playing with their puppies. Take all that into account and the miserable track records of great armies are no longer surprising. Armies need to prove their morality to win a war, but are never allowed to win a war because it would interfere with proving their morality. Conflicts begin on the triumphant moral high ground and end with the victors slinking back defeated after an Incident or two has been splashed all over the evening news and the book based on the article on it has already been optioned by Matt Damon's production company for a movie to be funded by the same people who fund the terrorists. The war of words, the conflict of images and videos, the clash of arguments, has become the sum of war. And that war is unwinnable because it must be fought on two fronts, against the cultural enemies within and the insurgents outside. An army cannot win a war and win over the New York Times at the same time. And so long as it fears Incidents more than operating in an aimlesscounterinsurgency twilight that eventually shades into defeat, then it is bound to lose both to both the terrorists and the New York Times. Daniel Greenfield is a New York City based writer and blogger and a Shillman Journalism Fellow of the David Horowitz Freedom Center. You are subscribed to email updates from Sultan Knish To stop receiving these emails, you may unsubscribe now. Email delivery powered by Google Google Inc., 20 West Kinzie, Chicago IL USA 60610

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Shabbat Siren

Shabbat Siren

Sat Nov 17, 2012 1:27 pm (PST) . Posted by:

"judy" judybalint

From: Stuart Pilichowski, Mevasseret TzionFriday. It was 4:45PM. We had already begun Shabbat services in our quaint little trailer / synagogue in Mevaseret Zion. We're a small town of 30,000 people just north of Jerusalem.Then it came. The Siren. The Warning. We're a caravan in the midst of an open, not yet developed field. No bomb shelter. We left the services immediately and proceeded outside. This memory will live with me forever. Forever. It was chilling.We all lay down on the ground. We had no shelter. The siren was still sounding. I realized I had just followed "those in the know." The veterans. Although I listened to countless radio and television interviews with the Israeli Home Front Defense on how to proceed during an attack - yes, an attack – a missile or rocket attack - that's what the siren signals – for me it was always meant for the population in the South, nearest to Gaza, not for me, in Mevaseret Zion, bordering Jerusalem, Israel's capital. I didn't realize I didn't check if my friend Bob was ok until I saw him lying next to me. Yes, the rules of evacuation to a shelter say specifically to go directly to the shelter – others will follow, do not risk delay by assisting others. They'll get to shelter on their own as well. But I still felt strange.Lying on the ground those few minutes I thought of my mother-in-law, may she rest in peace. She, upon the start of the SCUD War in 1991, immediately took a leave of absence from teaching (in NJ) and flew to Israel and sat in a sealed room as the SCUDS fell on Ramat Gan.After a few endless, eternal minutes, the siren ended. We all rose and went back inside to continue the Shabbat prayer services. "Prayer is boring." I've been hearing that for years. Well Friday evening's prayers were anything but boring.I still can't put my finger on it. But I simply can't understand this whole situation. I spend 5 days a week, from 6:00AM to 3:00PM with Palestinians and Israeli-Arabs. We work together, schmooze together, exchange a piece of fruit or a piece of gum, and talk about our families. Hakol B'seder. Everything's great. I teach them a word or two of English and they teach me a word or two of Arabic. I'm nice to them and they're nice to me. I don't believe they want to harm me, much less kill me. And I've been doing this ever since I moved to Israel 13 years ago – in Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey as well.Some think I'm naïve. Some think I'm a bleeding-heart liberal.Maybe. MaybeSo why do Arabs (generally speaking) want me (Israelis) dead? They don't even know me (us). To make a long story or intellectual discourse short: WHY THIS HATRED?Why do people bring up their children with rage rather than tolerance, understanding and love? Do you have an answer? Any ideas?I'd love to know the answer to the question I've been asking all my life.I am, by the way, not oblivious to the Hand of God in all this.There's a message in what's happening in the world as we create history here, in the State of Israel. And there's no better place to be than Israel for history in the making.A peaceful week to all. Shavuah tov.Stuart PilichowskiMevaseret Zion

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Zionism's Sephardi father 

 Zionism's Sephardi father by Michael FreundThe Jerusalem PostOctober 25, 2012 Send RSS Share: Be the first of your friends to like this. Modern Zionism is largely an Ashkenazi creation, or so popular thinking goes. After all, the World Zionist Organization was founded in Europe in 1897 and dominated by Ashkenazi Jews, who also made up the bulk of the pioneers who built the land and later declared the establishment of the state. So it should come as no surprise that it is possible to read histories of the emergence of the Zionist movement in the early 20th century without encountering the word "Sephardi" other than in passing. But to ignore the contribution made by Sephardi Jews to the return to Zion is a grave injustice, not only to our eastern brethren but to Jewish history itself. Though it has gone largely unacknowledged, the Sephardi role in preserving Zionist yearnings throughout the long centuries of Jewish exile was indispensable, dating back to the 12th-century Spanish rabbi and poet Yehuda HaLevi, whose poem "My heart is in the east" still resonates today. Indeed, this month's anniversary of the passing in October 1878 (4 Tishrei on the Hebrew calendar) of Rabbi Yehuda Alkalai, a Sephardi Jew from Serbia, presents an opportunity to correct the record and restore the Sephardi impact on Zionist renewal to its rightful place. While his name may not be overly familiar to most Israelis, his intellectual legacy laid the groundwork for the modern rebirth of Israel. Though he was born in Sarajevo in 1798, Alkalai's formative years were spent in Jerusalem, where he delved into ancient Jewish texts and became steeped in Jewish mysticism. At the young age of 27, he was offered the post of rabbi in the town of Zemun, which is today part of the Serbian capital of Belgrade. At the time, however, it fell within the boundaries of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and straddled the border of Turkish-occupied Serbia. Nationalism was on the rise in the Balkans, as Serbs and others chafed under the heavy hand of Ottoman control. This had a profound effect on Rabbi Alkalai, whose Serbian neighbors longed for liberation and increasingly agitated for independence. As Prof. Arthur Hertzberg noted in The Zionist Idea: A Historical Analysis and Reader: "ideas of national freedom and restoration came easily to Alkalai's mind from the atmosphere of his time and place." Within a decade, in 1834, he produced a booklet called Shema Yisrael (Hear, O Israel) proposing something which at the time was considered radical: to create Jewish colonies in the land of Israel as a prelude to redemption. In other words, Rabbi Alkalai advocated that man take action to bring about Jewish national emancipation. This notion ran counter to conventional wisdom, which primarily believed that Jews should wait passively for Messianic deliverance. Nonetheless, he developed the concept further, writing additional books and pamphlets and traveling throughout Europe to spread his message. IN HIS 1845 work Minhat Yehudah, Rabbi Alkalai wrote, "In the first conquest, under Joshua, the Almighty brought the children of Israel into a land that was prepared: its houses were then full of useful things, its wells were giving water, and its vineyards and olive groves were laden with fruit. This new Redemption will – alas, because of our sins – be different: our land is waste and desolate, and we shall have to build houses, dig wells, and plant vines and olive trees." "Redemption," he wrote, "must come slowly. The land must, by degrees, be built up and prepared." To accomplish this, Rabbi Alkalai offered novel, and highly prescient, suggestions, which included the launch of a national fund to purchase land in Israel, the convening of a "Great Assembly" to oversee Jewish national affairs, and a redoubling of efforts to revive Hebrew as a spoken language. At a time when many Jews were beginning to despair after centuries of persecution, Rabbi Alkalai offered concrete hope. More importantly, by highlighting practical measures that Jews could take, he empowered people throughout the Jewish world to become involved in a national act of self-redemption which would engender Divine mercy. In 1874, at the age of 76, Rabbi Alkalai and his wife made aliya, settling in Jerusalem to fulfill his life-long dream. He passed away four years later. Looking back on his ideas, we might easily take them for granted, as many have become part and parcel of our modern reality. But that only underlines Rabbi Alkalai's profound success, for we are merely enjoying the fruits of his labor. As a matter of fact, the extent of this Sephardi sage's influence may have been greater than we will ever know. In one of those curious twists of fate that even the most inventive novelist could not contrive, one of Rabbi Alkalai's faithful congregants and most ardent disciples was a man named Simon Loeb Herzl, whose grandson Theodor would later alter the course of Zionist and Jewish history. Is it possible that Simon Loeb came home from synagogue on the Sabbath, fired up by the rabbi's sermon about the need for Jews to head to Zion, and shared this passion with his offspring? Might the ideas that he read in his rabbi's writings been passed down in one form or another to his famous progeny? The answer to this question, like many others, has been lost to history. But Rabbi Yehuda Alkalai's impact, and that of other Sephardi Jews, cannot and must not suffer a similar fate. They played a key role in the unfolding of the Zionist drama, and we owe it to them to preserve their memory and the heritage they bequeathed us. For even after more than a century, Rabbi Alkalai's words have the power to guide and inspire us in our national mission. "We, as a people, are properly called Israel," he once wrote, "only in the land of Israel... Though this venture will begin modestly, its future will be very great."