The Seductive Circe of Technology In Warfare
September 7, 2006
As one trained extensively on high tech systems, such as cruise missiles, "Star Wars" missile defenses, and other modern warfare tools, I was stunned that Israel apparently got so enamored with technology that they may have forgotten about some of the basics of war; like rushing an enemy that might be on the ropes, maximizing one’s own advantages like firepower and intelligence, and training the force to the fine edge of a Payton Manning NFL passing attack.
In Lebanon, Israel blew much of the infrastructure to smithereens without killing the preponderance of Hezbollah. And they certainly did not deny Hezbollah their short-range Katyusha rockets. In the last 24 hours before the start of the cease fire, 250 Hezbollah rockets landed in Israel.
After the onset of the air campaign against southern Lebanon, an air campaign marred by an ill conceived cease fire respite, Israel walked into Lebanon with Merkava tanks; tanks not designed with enough armor to face the anti-tank shoulder fired rockets that Hezbollah quickly demonstrated. Israel faced a new and particularly potent version of the Russian-made RPG, the RPG-29, that has been sold by Moscow to the Syrians and then transferred to the Shi'ite organization.
Upon realizing that they faced better firepower, Israel kept up the assault, expecting that their normally overwhelming superiority would reappear. But that superiority abandoned Israel due to bad intelligence, overconfidence, poor military execution and a government that paused when it might have rushed the enemy and broken his spirit.
I think Israel ended the war quickly and without achieving their own stated objectives because they got taken by surprise; and taken to the cleaners.
Israel got goaded into a war at a time not to their best advantage, their intelligence was bad, they were overconfident, they paused when they should have rushed the enemy, and they suffered a momentous public affairs defeat in the Arab world.
There will be another war. Israel better take appropriate corrective actions.
As you read on; we likened technology in warfare to Circe. The Dread Goddess Circe is the daughter of Helios (the Sun) and Perseis, which would make her the grand-daughter of Okeanos (Ocean). Circe is a beautiful godess who waits for lost sailors to come wandering to her door as supplicants. She doesn't help them: instead she drugs them and serves them to others in meals!
I wanted to go out of my way to thank and congratulated Ralph Peters on the essay following -- and to say publicly that Ralph is, as usual, timely and insightful. Right on every point.
Ralph Peters: thanks for your marvelous essay today.