January 9, 2009

Survival Of The Nicest?

Although Ralph Peters gets it wrong in a couple of places, the gist of his piece (below) is absolutely correct.

Which raises the question: Can Western civilization, constrained by the "laws of war and civilized standards," defeat an enemy (i.e., the Islamic world), which revels in atrocities, values death over life and is unencumbered by laws or standards of civilized society?

The answer to that will determine who survives, for it all boils down to survival of the fittest, not the nicest.

New York Post  |  January 5, 2009

Don't Stop Until Hamas Is Destroyed

By Ralph Peters

ISRAELI ground troops have gone into Gaza. But can they rip out Hamas before international Israel-haters save the terror machine?

To provide its citizens even with temporary safety, Israel had no choice but to face a ground campaign's risks to its soldiers and the inevitable global criticism.

To provide security that might be measured in years, rather than weeks or months, Israel has to shatter Hamas, slaying enough rank-and-file terrorists to break their grip on Gaza's population. Above all, it's essential to kill the terrorist leaders. (Israel's worst blunder so far was not taking them out in the first wave of strikes, before they could go into hiding.)

The Israeli government denies that it seeks regime change in Gaza - what else can it say? But nothing short of removing Hamas will make an enduring difference. The terrorist organization only needs to survive to declare victory.

If it finds its back against the wall, Hamas may pretend to accept a truce to save itself, but it will never accept real peace with Israel. Hamas exists to kill Jews. Peace would erase its purpose - threatening all the power and perks its leaders and gunmen enjoy.

Here's the bitter truth: Israel can't stop its own bleeding without drowning Hamas in blood. That's Hamas' choice, not Israel's. No negotiations, no compromises, and no shuttle-diplomacy bargains will ever placate terrorists who believe their god wants tributes of Jewish blood.

Israel may never get another such chance as this to rip the heart out of Hamas. But Israel needs the fortitude to accept painful friendly casualties on the ground and to resist international pressure - which will be fierce.

Torn between the need to "beat the clock" and the competing requirement to operate methodically and minimize casualties, the Israel Defense Forces staff designed a multiphased ground operation in which success will build on success. The move into northern Gaza over the weekend followed at least three, and possibly four, concentric axes of advance, cutting off the local Hamas forces.

The initial mission for Phase One was to envelop Gaza City and its satellite towns, then encircle the Jabalya refugee camp - a key base for Hamas. The north was the obvious first target, since it's been the prime launching area for terror rockets.

The IDF wanted to avoid biting off too much at once, so its planners chose a classic carve-up-the-pie technique, chewing one slice of Gaza before taking on the next helping. This isn't so much a piecemeal approach as a methodical one, letting the IDF concentrate resources in one zone at a time. The inherent weakness? Such an approach - cleaning out the terrorists bit by bit - is slow and grinding.

There's going to be ugly fighting ahead, as the terrorists set layers of ambushes while using Palestinian civilians as human shields. Hamas will strive to bog down the IDF, which needs to maintain battlefield momentum - a challenge in any urban environment. (And let's be absolutely clear: Except for dead Jews, there's nothing Hamas leaders like better than dead Palestinian women and children, since the global media's appetite for dead kids verges on necrophilia.)

After cleaning out the first cluster of objectives, the IDF can push southward into central Gaza. Such a move to the south would be complemented by another flank attack into Gaza from Israeli territory, creating a series of hammer-and-anvil traps for Hamas gunmen.

Alternatively, the IDF could "bookend" Gaza by striking next at the strip's southern end, but Israel may have cut a deal to create an Egyptian zone of influence below Khan Younis. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, there's grueling, bloody fighting awaiting Israeli soldiers constrained by the laws of war and civilized standards, while facing opponents who revel in atrocities.

Fighting in dense slums and clearing high-rise buildings is just about the toughest work an infantryman can do. Effective combined-arms tactics - the infantry, tanks, engineers, artillery and special operators working together - reduce the risks somewhat, but, in the end, an infantry squad has to clear that basement or gauge the level of risk behind the apartment door. (Is there a booby trap, an ambush - or a family?)

Despite a superb performance by the IDF's pilots last week, we're learning, yet again, that 21st-century warfare remains the province of the soldier on the ground. What was true in the first Israelite kingdom remains true today: Warfare's a human endeavor. Technology changes combat's external features, but man remains war's essence.

Meanwhile, Israel must confront not only its flesh-and-blood enemy in all his ruthlessness, but a perverse global media, busybody diplomats seeking personal glory, a worrisome incoming US administration, and the West's historically illiterate intelligentsia conditioned to bleat that "war is never the answer!"

Over the past 5,000 years, war may not have been the perfect answer, but there have been countless times when it was the only answer. This is one of those times.

Ralph Peters' most recent book is "Looking For Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World."

Original article here.


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