Friday, July 21, 2006

Hezbollah Builds Its Identity

Fighting Force Amid Ties to Iran,

Hezbollah Builds Its Own Identity

Shiite Group's Leader Vows Defiance After Israeli Hit;

A Gift for Propaganda

'Frighteningly Professional'

By JAY SOLOMON in Beirut, Lebanon, and KARBY LEGGETT in Jerusalem
The Wall Street Journal
July 21, 2006; Page A1

A day after Israel dropped 23 tons of explosives in an attempt to kill him, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah appeared on al-Jazeera television yesterday and struck a defiant pose. "Hezbollah has absorbed your strike and retaken the initiative," he told Israelis, wagging a finger for emphasis. "We have more surprises to come."

The theatrical threat was a reminder that, for all of Hezbollah's allegiance to Iran, the Lebanese militant group is a force with its own strong identity in the region. Mr. Nasrallah has tried to build himself into an anti-Israel symbol in the Arab world, while sharpening Hezbollah's military discipline and spreading its tentacles in Lebanese society.

Hezbollah's dual nature -- as a suspected tool of Iran's regional ambitions and as a Lebanese group with its own charismatic leader -- complicates the search for a solution to the crisis in the Middle East. The crisis started when Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. Israel retaliated by carrying out bombing across Lebanon and slapping a naval blockade on the country.

Hezbollah's flag, a fist reaching toward an AK-47, is modeled after the symbol of Iran's Revolutionary Guard. And Hezbollah maintains an office on Tehran's premier boulevard. Israel and the U.S. are eager to crush the group as a means to limit Iran's own military capabilities. Many U.S. officials believe Tehran has been inciting Hezbollah to act against Israel as a way of discouraging Western efforts to contain its nuclear program.

Virtually all Lebanese politicians and analysts agree that the current crisis is unlikely to end without Iran's involvement. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has publicly praised Hezbollah's latest moves to confront Israel. Until Iran actively calls for Hezbollah to lay down its arms, few Lebanese believe it will.

Yet Hezbollah's history has been a balancing act between its Iranian backers and its Lebanese identity. "Some people try to make it look like Hezbollah is a mere tool in the hands of the Iranians in Lebanon," says Aly al-Amine, a Lebanese political analyst.

"The fact is that Hezbollah has its ideology and beliefs as well as internal discipline and secret security system."

From its start in the early 1980s, Hezbollah, a Shiite Muslim group, had a close association with the leaders of Shiite-dominated Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution. Lebanon's Shiite community is estimated to be around 40% of the nation's population.

Shiites have long been at the bottom of the country's economic ladder, with high unemployment and illiteracy rates. Lebanon's Christian and Sunni classes have dominated the country's political and business circles.

Iran's financial aid and religious oversight in the 1980s helped galvanize Lebanon's Shiites. U.S. intelligence officials based in Beirut during the period say cadres from Iran's Revolutionary Guard encouraged women to wear the Islamic veil and inspired social groups and charities in Lebanon's Shiite slums. Young Lebanese Shiite men went to Iran for military training.

Hezbollah, which means "Party of God" in Arabic, was born in this milieu. Iranian leadership instilled impressive discipline among Hezbollah's ranks and a flair for the dramatic. One former Central Intelligence Agency chief in Lebanon said he was amazed by the sight of Hezbollah fighters walking in goose steps down a Beirut avenue. "It seemed pretty clear that they were just an extension" of the Revolutionary Guard, he said.

Hezbollah quickly became the leading force in combating Israeli and U.S. influence in the region. After U.S. Marines occupied Lebanon in an attempt to enforce a United Nations-sponsored peace agreement between warring Lebanese factions, Hezbollah carried out a string of kidnappings and suicide bombings against American targets in Beirut and elsewhere. In October 1983, a Hezbollah bomber killed more than 241 Marines in a suicide attack on the Americans' barracks in Beirut. It was the largest terrorist attack on U.S. citizens at that time.

The ringleader of these and subsequent attacks, say U.S. and Israeli officials, is Hezbollah's chief military official, Imad Mugniyah. A former bodyguard for the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Mr. Mugniyah had been an engineering student at the American University in Beirut. He is at the top of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's most-wanted terrorist list, with a $5 million bounty on his head.

Over the years, Hezbollah worked to develop its own identity and become part of Lebanon's social fabric. In the south, for example, the group provides its social services to significant numbers of Christians and Druze Lebanese. Last year, after Syria decided to withdraw its troops from Lebanon, elected Hezbollah politicians joined Lebanon's ruling coalition government for the first time. That forced the movement to focus more energy on Lebanese issues.

Leading the Push

The man who has led this push, say Lebanese politicians and analysts, has been the 46-year-old Mr. Nasrallah, Hezbollah's secretary general. He took control of Hezbollah in 1992, following the assassination of its previous leader, Abbas al-Musawi. Mr. Nasrallah wears glasses and a black turban and sports a salt-and-pepper beard.

Originally a member of a largely secular Shiite party, Mr. Nasrallah took a more Islamist outlook under Iranian influence, say people who have met him. He studied for three years at a Shiite seminary in the Iraqi city of Najaf.

Upon his return, he gained the respect of many Hezbollah fighters by spending significant time at the Israeli front, these people say. Mr. Nasrallah's own son was killed fighting against Israel, sealing Mr. Nasrallah's reputation as a man willing to sacrifice for his cause. He was held in even higher esteem when, upon viewing the bodies of the dead fighters, he didn't linger any longer over his own son's body than over the others.

One of Mr. Nasrallah's first changes as a Hezbollah leader was to separate its military and political arms, say those who worked with him. During the 1980s, Hezbollah fighters were often massacred in firefights with Israelis, say Lebanese military analysts, provoking concerns that politicians, intentionally or inadvertently, were tipping off the Israeli army. Today, the organization's military officers report only to Mr. Nasrallah among Hezbollah's Shura Council, its organizing body.

"Hezbollah is probably the best-organized group in the entire Middle East," says Fouad Hamdan, a Lebanese democracy activist and Hezbollah critic who now lives in Europe. "They are frighteningly professional."

Mr. Nasrallah also vowed to retaliate for every Israeli attack. Hezbollah began flying unarmed drones over Israel in response to the constant buzzing of Israeli jets and predator drones. One person who knows Mr. Nasrallah says the leader sought to make the drone as noisy as possible in an attempt to unnerve Israeli citizens, even though he knew it had limited military potential.
Hezbollah's secretary general is also described as a skillful propagandist. In recent years, al-Manar, Hezbollah's television network, has taken to dispatching reporters on military operations, filming battles and the slaying of Israeli military personnel. The goal is to galvanize support for Hezbollah among Palestinian and other Arab groups. The U.S. has blacklisted the channel as a terrorist organization and sought to block its advertising and signal.

"Al-Manar is Nasrallah's baby and has been very effective in the propaganda war," says Timur Goksel, a former spokesman for the U.N. in southern Lebanon. For Hezbollah's opponents, he says "it can be very demoralizing."

Even as Mr. Nasrallah has developed Hezbollah into an independent force, he has also deepened its ties with Iran. U.S. and Israeli officials say a steady stream of Iranian military hardware flows to Hezbollah through Syria -- including night-vision goggles, machine guns, explosives, rockets and missiles. These officials say Iran has also supplied a long-range guided missile known as the Zelzal, which military experts believe can reach Tel Aviv from Lebanon.

In all, Iran is estimated by some military analysts to provide Hezbollah as much as $120 million a year for its activities. Hezbollah's annual budget is estimated to be at least $250 million, experts on the group say. Revolutionary Guard agents continue to train Hezbollah fighters, both in southern Lebanon and in Iran itself, U.S. and Israeli officials say. Iran denies it has agents in Lebanon, as does Hezbollah.

As Shiites, Iranian and Hezbollah leaders share a common view of history, seeing their sect as a victim of mistreatment at the hands of Sunni Muslims, European colonialists, and today Israel and America.

Beyond Weapons

Iran's support for Hezbollah goes beyond weapons. In Hermel, a city in the northern stretch of Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, Iranian money helped Hezbollah set up an organic farm. Sitting in his office on a recent day, Hussein Kansoh extolled the virtues of Hezbollah's construction arm and the support it gets from Iran. Behind him was a picture of Iran's top cleric, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "We have big plans for the future," he said.

Some say Hezbollah may have overstepped by kidnapping the Israeli soldiers -- a gambit that almost certainly was carried out with Iran's approval. Lebanon's prime minister, Fuad Siniora, has repeatedly criticized Hezbollah for threatening his country's economic and political future by unilaterally plunging Lebanon into a war with Israel. Many Sunni-majority nations that are wary of Iran's growing power, such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia, are actively supporting the push by the U.S. and Israel to completely disarm Hezbollah.

Hezbollah runs the risk of depleting its military as it uses up its missile stocks and suffers the daily Israeli barrage. "Hezbollah might have been surprised by the Israeli response, or it might have been tricked into believing that other regional forces would join the war," said Mr. al-Amine, the political analyst.

But in yesterday's pretaped interview on al-Jazeera, which the Arab satellite channel said was conducted amid heavy security, Mr. Nasrallah said Hezbollah is well-prepared to keep fighting. He specifically mentioned the amount of explosives that Israel dropped on a Hezbollah compound on Wednesday, apparently trying to prove he survived the strike. Mocking Israel, he said: "Even if the whole universe comes, they will not be able to take back your two soldiers."

Mr. Nasrallah called again for a prisoner swap with Israel, which holds some Hezbollah fighters in its jails. Appealing for Muslim support, he said a defeat for Hezbollah will be "a defeat for the entire Islamic nation." His comments came as Israeli troops and Hezbollah guerrillas were engaged in a fierce firefight about one mile inside southern Lebanon. At least two Israeli soldiers were killed as well as several Hezbollah fighters.

As a tight-knit guerrilla organization in an increasingly weak state, Hezbollah may be better-prepared to endure the Israeli onslaught than Lebanon's mainstream parties and organizations, say Lebanese analysts. Hezbollah is trying to position itself as the principal guarantor of Lebanese sovereignty.

"Israel has not been able to undermine Hezbollah's military capabilities...because the resistance has no fixed bases or bunkers," said Nawar Saheli, a Hezbollah lawmaker. "It fights in a way that the Israeli enemy fails to fathom."

-- Mariam Fam in Beirut, Lebanon contributed to this article

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Hezbollah Has Created "Missile War"

For Israel: Not Your Mother's Terrorists

"....And our ability to stop missiles is very limited...."

By Scott WilsonWashington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, July 19, 2006; Page A01

JERUSALEM, July 18 -- Israel and the radical Islamic groups Hamas and Hezbollah are waging war for the first time largely in the skies, exchanging rocket fire, artillery rounds and airstrikes in battles that military officials and analysts here say could redefine the regional conflict for years to come.

Both militias are now drawing on longer-range arsenals to send missiles deeper into Israel.

The launch sites are hard to detect, and the short-range rockets reach targets in seconds, making interception nearly impossible.

Israel dominated air power in earlier years but now faces a fresh challenge from the crude rockets that Hezbollah and Hamas are using to strike Israeli cities. The war of the missiles could also render less relevant the large-scale ground operations that the Israeli military relied on in the past.

Israel's withdrawal from Gaza last year and south Lebanon in 2000 has deprived Hamas and Hezbollah of targets they once hit regularly: army posts, settlers and soldiers.

"Israel has long ruled the skies," said Michael Oren, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center, an academic research organization here, and the author of "Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East," a chronicle of the 1967 Middle East war.

"Since they can't shoot down the airplanes, these groups have developed a way to try to rule the skies themselves with missiles. And our ability to stop missiles is very limited."

In his wartime address to the nation this week, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned that "Israel will not agree to live in the shadow of missiles or rockets against its residents."

Olmert's plan to leave parts of the West Bank, reducing what some Israelis have called its strategic depth near the country's narrow middle, could also make more of Israel vulnerable to rocket strikes, as did its withdrawal from south Lebanon and Gaza.

The separation barrier that Olmert said will roughly mark Israel's eastern border after the partial West Bank withdrawal is designed to keep out Palestinians, not rockets.

Israeli military officials have warned that the next Palestinian uprising could be "a ballistic intifada," but others say a negotiated pullback from the West Bank would ease tensions with the Palestinians and perhaps lead to a state.

The Lebanon bombing campaign, overseen by Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, the first air force officer to lead Israel's military, has destroyed a number of key transportation routes from Syria, collapsed bridges and shut down Beirut's international airport. In its broadest terms, it is an attempt to seal off the country in order to cut Hezbollah's weapons supply lines, which Israeli officials believe run from Iran and Syria.

But Israel has been unable to stop Hezbollah from firing roughly 720 rockets into the Galilee region of northern Israel over the past week.

The conflict began last Wednesday after Hezbollah gunmen captured two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others in a cross-border raid and subsequent fighting. At the same time, Palestinian gunmen in Gaza have launched scores of rockets into southern Israel since the June 25 capture of another Israeli soldier from a post outside the strip, a raid that included Hamas's military wing.

So far, 13 Israeli civilians have been killed, including one Tuesday in the northern city of Nahariya, by Hezbollah rocket fire. More than 230 Lebanese have died in the Israeli bombing and shelling, the majority of them civilians, Lebanese officials have said. Israeli military officials say Hezbollah has used civilian neighborhoods to launch rockets.

"When we look at the big picture, what you have is a completely different kind of war," said Brig. Gen. Ido Nehushtan, a member of Israel's general staff.

Nehushtan said Israel's success in the contest between one of the world's most sophisticated armies and a stateless militia, which often uses the cover of civilian areas, would send a message to other groups at war with the Jewish state. But he acknowledged that Israel faces many difficulties, including how to track primitive rockets, the high cost of using precision bombs against Hezbollah missiles that sometimes cost only hundreds of dollars, and limiting civilian casualties in a war being fought in residential neighborhoods.

"This is asymmetric war in its purest form. And the outcome of the conflict will project a lot about terror activity not only throughout the Middle East but the rest of the world."

Israel's air force, equipped with U.S.-made fighters and attack helicopters, has been key to many wartime victories. During the 1982 Lebanon war, the Israeli air force shot down 100 Syrian jets without losing any of its own.But those successes also included decisive contributions from the armored corps and infantry.

The limits of air power became clear during the first Palestinian uprising in the late 1980s. Facing a restive population using mostly rocks and civil resistance, airstrikes made little tactical sense. That changed during the second Palestinian uprising, when Israeli aircraft were deployed to bomb government buildings in the West Bank and Gaza and to shoot missiles at suspected militants.

"Even if the military operation may temporarily stop the rockets from Lebanon and Gaza, Israel must be ready to pay a certain price, namely to negotiate in order to stop it forever," said Gabriel Sheffer, a political science professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

"There will be no end to the rockets until there is a political and cultural solution to the broader conflict."Israel began developing anti-missile systems after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when the Jewish state was hit by Scud missiles from Iraq, despite the U.S.-deployed Patriot anti-missile system and thousands of U.S. Air Force sorties over Iraq's western desert searching for launchers.

The Israeli military has since deployed the Arrow-2 anti-missile system, designed to knock down ballistic missiles such as the Scuds possessed by Syria but not the shorter-range Katyushas or Qassams.

In partnership with the U.S. Army, Israel had begun developing the Nautilus, a laser-based system for use against short-range missiles. One of the virtues of the Nautilus was that, for the first time, it was designed to provide a cost-effective way to knock down Katyushas.

But despite a successful test a few years ago, the U.S. Army backed out of the program.In Gaza, Israel has relied largely on airstrikes and artillery fire to go to the source of the Qassams. The rockets range from 2 1/2 to 6 1/2 feet in length and are usually made from metal tubing, sometimes from sawed-up lampposts uprooted from Gaza's streets. They are fired from collapsible metal stands, often from dunes, orchards or narrow streets, and the farthest one has traveled roughly nine miles.

In attempting to stop rockets, the Israeli military has fired more than 11,000 artillery shells into Gaza and carried out scores of assassinations from the air since withdrawing its last soldier from the strip in September.

"The shorter the range, the more difficult it is to do something against it," said Isaac Ben-Israel, a retired major general who headed the research and development directorate of Israel's Defense Ministry. "The time between preparing the rockets and hitting the targets is seconds. There's nothing you can really do to intercept them."

In Lebanon, Israel's threat has primarily been the Katyushas, commonly 120mm factory-made rockets that carry a roughly 40-pound warhead. In recent days, however, Hezbollah has fired rockets more than 25 miles with payloads twice the size of the traditional Katyusha.

But Ben-Israel, who now runs the security studies department at Tel Aviv University, said the longer-range rockets actually present easier targets for Israel's air force because they require sophisticated launchers that are easier to track. Israeli military officials say they have had some success in recent days knocking out the known Hezbollah launch sites and rocket fire has declined, though it is unclear whether that is a result of the military operation or Hezbollah's strategy.

The longer-range rockets are also far more expensive than Katyushas, meaning Hezbollah likely has fewer of them.By relying on airstrikes and limited incursions, Olmert has avoided long and bloody ground operations that could lead to an unpopular occupation.

A small number of Israeli special forces have been operating just inside the Lebanese border against Hezbollah posts, Israeli military officials said, although there are no signs that an invasion force is being assembled.

All but a few specialized army reservists remain at home.Oren, who was with one of the first Israeli army units to enter Beirut in the 1982 Lebanon invasion, said Hezbollah's longer-range arsenal signals that "the whole notion of territorial depth is losing meaning.

Clearly the issue here is a political and diplomatic solution. There is no military solution.""In order to get rid of rockets, you have to occupy the territory," said Zeev Schiff, the longtime military affairs correspondent for the Israeli daily Haaretz who co-wrote the definitive account of the Lebanon war. "If you took south Lebanon, you might solve the short-range rockets. Then, people will tell you, Hezbollah will just find longer-range missiles. So do you occupy northern Lebanon? So it goes."

Missiles and Proliferation

Arming of Hezbollah Reveals U.S.,

Israeli Blind Spots

By Mark Mazzetti and Thom Shanker
The New York Times
July 19, 2006

WASHINGTON, July 18 — The power and sophistication of the missile and rocket arsenal that Hezbollah has used in recent days has caught the United States and Israel off guard, and officials in both countries are just now learning the extent to which the militant group has succeeded in getting weapons from Iran and Syria.

While the Bush administration has stated that cracking down on weapons proliferation is one of its top priorities, the arming of Hezbollah shows the blind spots of American and other Western intelligence services in assessing the threat, officials from across those governments said.

American and Israeli officials said the successful attack last Friday on an Israeli naval vessel was the strongest evidence to date of direct support by Iran to Hezbollah.

The attack was carried out with a sophisticated antiship cruise missile, the C-802, an Iranian-made variant of the Chinese Silkworm, an American intelligence official said.At the same time, American and Israeli officials cautioned that they had found no evidence that Iranian operatives working in Lebanon launched the antiship missile themselves.

But neither Jerusalem nor Washington had any idea that Hezbollah had such a missile in its arsenal, the officials said, adding that the Israeli ship had not even activated its missile defense system because intelligence assessments had not identified a threat from such a radar-guided cruise missile.

They said they had also been surprised by the advances that Hezbollah had made in improving what had been crude rockets — for example, attaching cluster bombs as warheads, or filling an explosive shell with ball bearings that have devastating effect.The Bush administration has long sought to focus attention on Iranian missile proliferation, and regularly discusses with journalists intelligence evidence of those activities.

But American officials in Washington made clear this week that they were reluctant to detail Iran’s arming of Hezbollah in the current conflict.The reason, according to officials across the government, was a desire by the Bush administration to contain the conflict to Israeli and Hezbollah forces, and not to enlarge the diplomatic tasks by making Iranian missile supplies, or even those of Syria, a central question for now.

Still, some officials in Washington admitted to being blindsided by the abilities of Hezbollah’s arsenal.“You have to acknowledge the obvious — we’ve seen a new capability in striking the naval vessel and in the number of casualties that have been sustained from the Hezbollah missile attacks,” a Bush administration official said.

“In the past, we’d see three, four, maybe eight launches at any given time if Hezbollah was feeling feisty,” the official added. “Now we see them arriving in large clusters, and with a range and even certain accuracy we have not seen in the past.”

The officials interviewed agreed to discuss classified intelligence assessments about Hezbollah’s capabilities only on condition of anonymity.

While Iranian missile supplies to Hezbollah, either by sea or overland via Syria, were well known, officials said the current conflict also indicated that some of the rockets in Hezbollah’s arsenal — including a 220-millimeter rocket used in a deadly attack on a railway site in Haifa on Sunday — were built in Syria.

“The Israelis did forensics, and found several were Syrian-made,” said David Schenker, who this spring became a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy after four years working on Middle East issues at the Pentagon.

“Everybody recognizes that Syria has played an important role in facilitating transshipment — but not supplying their own missiles to Hezbollah.”

Officials have since confirmed that the warhead on the Syrian rocket was filled with ball bearings — a method of destruction used frequently in suicide bombings but not in warhead technology.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” said one Western intelligence official, speaking about the warhead. But it was Friday’s successful launching of a C-802 cruise missile that most alarmed officials in Washington and Jerusalem.

Iran began buying dozens of those sophisticated antiship missiles from the Chinese during the 1990’s, until the United States pressured Beijing to cease the sales.

Until Friday, however, Western intelligence services did not know that Iran had managed to ship C-802 missiles to Hezbollah.

Officials said it was likely that Iran trained Hezbollah fighters on how to successfully fire and guide the missiles, and that members of Iran’s Al Quds force — the faction of the Revolutionary Guards that trains foreign forces — would not necessarily have to be on the scene to launch the C-802.

At the same time, some experts said Iran was not likely to deploy such a sophisticated weapon without also sending Revolutionary Guard crews with the expertise to fire the missile.An administration official said intelligence reports have concluded that a small number of Iranians are currently operating in Lebanon, but the official declined to disclose their number or mission.


We Are At The Crossroads Now:

New Warfare Upon Us

By John E. Carey
The Washington Times
(Accepted for after July 21, 2006)

“We are living in a new strategic environment that we do not yet fully understand…. Some of our adversaries are undeniably at work developing ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. This ushers in an entirely new age of threat, terrorism, intelligence and defense.” I made those statements in a commentary essay in The San Francisco Chronicle, on Friday, August 21, 1998.

We are usually not so prescient. Give credit to decades of reading intelligence estimates on Soviet, Chinese, Iranian, North Korean and Syrian weapons developments and proliferation.

Now Israel may be facing a new situation: “terrorist”groups (Hezbollah and Hamas) armed with surprisingly capable missiles and rockets: weapons heretofore only available to heavily financed military groups like the Soviet Army or the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Israel is not the only nation facing this new reality. All over the world, terrorist have or seek more sophisticated weapons and delivery systems including nuclear, chemical and biological weapons: the so called “weapons of mass destruction” or WMDs.

North Korea and Iran bluster about their nuclear ambitions and developments. Pakistan and India are already nuclear capable: and armed with an array of long-range missiles to deliver their own forms of holocaust. This means proliferation is a real enemy: almost anyone could gain access to WMD.

And all over the world those that seek a new voice in the future of the world are not just taking to the streets: they are taking to bomb making. They are learning how to use cell phones to detonate improvised explosive devices (IED) on commuter trains and in other public places.

And what next? Chemical weapons planted by a “terrorist” group in a nation’s sports stadium? An unannounced nuclear blast in a populated area? Perhaps.

For more than a decade, pentagon planners and visionaries have written and spoken about “asymmetric warfare.” The Dictionary of Military Terms defines “asymmetric warfare” as "threats outside the range of conventional warfare and difficult to respond to in kind (e.g., a suicide bomber)."

Victory over the people who created this new, more toxic, strategic brew -- what some have called “asymmetric warfare” -- will require renewed understanding, resolve and dedication of freedom and peace-loving nations everywhere. And the grit of the American people.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld once famously said about troop numbers, "The idea that more is better is not easy to contradict, but it is not clear that it has solved the problems of asymmetric warfare.”

Maybe the term “asymmetric warfare” is now deregure; but it is real. Ask the Israelis. Ask the U.S. and coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. And ask the Chinese.

China made the anti-ship cruise missile, the C-802, that slammed into an Israeli warship this past week in the Mediterranean Sea. The Israeli ship didn’t even have its anti-missile systems turned on. The intelligence estimate didn’t credit the terrorists with having anti-ship cruise missiles.

That is “asymmetric warfare.”

With Hezbollah rockets crashing into Israeli cities, Brig. Gen. Ido Nehushtan, a member of Israel's general staff said, "This is asymmetric war in its purest form. And the outcome of the conflict will project a lot about terror activity not only throughout the Middle East but the rest of the world."

China is watching: because that Chinese missile, and others like it but vastly improved, plus “asymmetric warfare,” are being taught, planned, war-gamed and practiced in China. The future enemy is undoubtedly the U.S. Navy.

Just this week, middle class suburbanites here in Charleston, SC asked me: “What does the future hold for our children? Given the determination of the terrorists and the prospect of weapons of mass destruction, what should the U.S. and other ‘freedom loving’ people do?”

We offer four general but immutable and interrelated beliefs:

--The “good guys” can’t give in.
--We may have to sacrifice more before we “win.”
--The terrorist won’t give up easily, if at all.
--The cost of acting tentatively or too late could be catastrophic.

A protracted conflict, like the “long war” discussed by President Bush, may well require new thinking, new weapons and renewed dedication before we have the confidence to say we are on the right track.

As last week ended, CNN reported that “Though Israel has struck what it calls strategic points throughout Lebanon -- including airports, docks, roads, bridges and Hezbollah political offices – [Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan] Nasrallah said Thursday that his group is still operating calmly and methodically.”

If true: That’s also asymmetric warfare. Israel is bombing buildings and Hezbollah has already slipped away. This is not Stalingrad.

President Bush, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and CIA Director Hayden have put into motion a total rethinking and modernization of our U.S. national defense and intelligence systems and capabilities. We need to continue to evolve to understand and meet the new strategic threats we face.

And the American people and their elected representatives in Congress need to more aggressively strive to grasp the new strategic threat posed by terrorists armed with missiles, rockets, IEDs and potentially, weapons of mass destruction.

Copyright: All site contents copyright © 2006 The Washington Times, LLC. and John E. Carey, Peace and Freedom

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