Sunday, March 1, 2009

Opinion: Not as Mighty Now - Amin Howeidi

Al Ahram Weekly, February 26-March 4, 2009 - there is anything to learn from Operation Cast Lead, the codename for Israel's latest onslaught on Gaza, it is that Israel is not as invincible as it likes to think. I am not talking here about who won and who lost. In conflicts such as this a few points won here or there is not what matters. What matters is deterrence; something Israel used to have and is now losing.

By dictionary definition, deterrence is the ability to make political gains with the mere threat of force. In other words, one must have enough power and a willingness to use it, to force the enemy to make concessions. In Gaza's case, none of this worked. Israel threatened force and the resistance stood its ground. Then Israel attacked and the resistance still stood its ground. This must be scary for Israel, for it makes the future rather uncertain.

Israel used to have it easy. It maintained overwhelming force, which means that it didn't have to attack. Then, if it attacked, it had the ability to score fast victories, or retaliate with a convincing second strike. Israel likes its wars short. First, this means that it doesn't need to call in the reserves. And it obviates the need to confront angry world public opinion.

In Gaza, the war went too far. Israel had to call in the reserves. And when many countries intervened with their own initiative for a truce, Israel had to call a ceasefire -- and did so unilaterally....

Amin Howeidi is former defense minister and chief of General Intelligence of Egypt.

No comments: