Friday, 18 August 2006

Rashomon, Israeli conflict edition

Matthew Shugart and David Bernstein read the exact same passage in Ha’aretz and come to pretty much diametrically opposite conclusions—Shugart, that the war was foolhardy; Bernstein, that the Israeli defense minister didn’t take Hezbollah’s missile arsenal seriously enough.

Granted, I tend to think Shugart is right (far) more often than Bernstein, but here I’m just bemused by the juxtaposition—and would be more likely to be concerned that the IDF didn’t take Hezbollah’s missile capability all that seriously.

1 comment:

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Actually, I don’t necessarily subscribe to the conclusion attributed to me here. I was intending the probably too-subtle point that if the missiles were such a threat (I mean strategically, not to the unfortunate person who gets hit by one of these things), then why were they not a high priority in the IDF briefing of the new (and woefully inexperienced) Defense Minister?

Whether the war itself was foolhardy (not a word I myself have used in this case) is a separate matter, I think, from what the IDF and Peretz thought about HA missiles months ago. But if the sentiment attributed to Peretz is correct, and not just spin (and it might be spin), then it calls into question the notion that this missile threat was something the IDF and Defense Ministry knew they were going to have to deal with sooner or later. It certainly questions the whole “existential” threat idea (which I think is a totally ridicuous notion, anyway). Or else the IDF was just not paying attention to existential threats in its war planning. Which would be even more damning.

As I read it, only if Peretz’s remarks are spin is Bernstein correct that it was Peretz, and not the IDF itself, that placed a low priority on the threat from these missiles.

On the whole strategic threat question—in the broader regional context—I think Bernstein is absolutely right that one objective for the US and Israel was “preemption” of HA longer-range missile capability in the event of a heating up of conflict with Iran. And that might actually have been one of the few relative “successes” of the operation.

Sorry for a comment longer than the post (this seems to happen with me a lot!).

Thanks, Chris, for making me think (this also seems to happen a lot!).

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