07/31/06 — Israel’s dilemma: It can only lose one of its wars

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Israel’s dilemma: It can only lose one of its wars

Israel can fight — and win — its wars in the Middle East time and time again. Which it has — time and time again since its founding.

But it can lose only once.

For Israel to lose its first war would mean that it would be no more. Its enemies insist that Israel has no right to exist.

This gives the Israelis the ultimate incentive to defend itself, to fight and to win. And it has done so repeatedly. In equipment, expertise, military intelligence and motivation, tiny Israel has shown its superiority its enemies — individually and collectively.

No small part of Israel’s strength can be attributed to the United States. In the current war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel has the advantage of U.S.-built F-15s and “smart” bomb technology.

But the Israelis have been under pressure to take something else from the U.S. strategic “arsenal” — a “no-win” approach to military confrontations.

President Harry S. Truman had the vision and courage to end World War II with two atomic bombs. While the toll was heavy, countless millions of military and civilian lives on both sides were spared.

But Truman also introduced the “limited war” approach five years later in Korea. And the outcome was a stalemate over which menacing clouds continue to hover and darken.

President Lyndon Johnson expanded the idea in Vietnam, Important supply lines and other strategic targets and routes to targets were off limits. His approach was to feed in just enough pressure in personnel and material to keep the blood mill running — hoping the North Vietnamese, a Third World entity, would go away.

Instead, under political pressure at home, we went away.

And after our troops had won every battle on land, in the air and at sea, the U.S. lost the war in Vietnam.

Our country survived to fight more wars.

Israel won’t have that “luxury.”

Published in Editorials on July 31, 2006 11:20 AM