Friday, February 15, 2008

The Lesson Israel Can Learn From Petraeus--But Cannot Implement

I had a short post about what the US has learned from Israel's experience in it's war with Hizbollah in Lebanon in 2006. Now, over at Contentions, Michael Totten has an excellent post on the difference between the US approach in Iraq vis-a-vis what Olmert did in Lebanon:
American General David Petraeus proved counterinsurgency in Arabic countries can work. His surge of troops in Iraq is about a change of tactics more than an increase in numbers, and his tactics so far have surpassed all expectations. The “light footprint” model used during former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s tenure may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but American soldiers and Marines had no chance of defeating insurgents from behind barbed wire garrisons. Only now that the troops have left the relative safety and comfort of their bases and intimately integrated themselves into the Iraqi population are they able to isolate and track down the killers. They do so with help from the locals. They acquired that help because they slowly forged trusting relationships and alliances, and because they protect the civilians from violence.

The Israel Defense Forces did nothing of the sort in Lebanon. Most Lebanese Shias are so hostile to Israel that such a strategy might not work even if David Petraeus himself were in charge of it. Even then it would take years to produce the desired results, just as it has taken several years in Iraq. Israelis have no wish to spend years fighting Hezbollah in Lebanon. International pressure would force them out if they did.

A Petraeus-like strategy wasn’t an option for Olmert.
Totten's piece leads up to how Obama wants to impose an Olmert-like solution in Iraq for dealing with the insurgents, but the key difference between the current US and Israeli strategy--and the impossibility of Israel implementing Petraeus strategy--is instructive.

Read the whole thing.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad

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