The ‘no military solution’ fallacy

West Bank terror was decisively beaten. So why do senior officers claim this can’t be done in Gaza?

July 21, 2014 16:45
tunnel Nir Am

Tunnel hole and weapons form one of the last infiltration attempts. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN'S OFFICE)

Perhaps the strangest aspect of the current war with Hamas is the mantra endlessly repeated by senior military officials: Terror from Gaza has “no military solution.” Former air force pilot Reuven Ben-Shalom, for instance, reported that during a visit to air force headquarters last week, he found “a deep understanding of the limitations of military might. Everyone knows that the military’s goal in asymmetric warfare is not to win a decisive victory, but to bring about a reality which will enable the political echelons to shape the strategic environment.” Similarly, a senior Israel Defense Forces officer declared last week that military action can’t defeat Hamas; the army’s job is merely “to create conditions for the political echelon so that the political process will work."

Needless to say, this is a self-fulfilling prophecy: If the army doesn’t think it’s possible to defeat terror, it won’t draft any plans for doing so, and absent a credible military plan, the government can’t even aspire to victory as its goal. But what makes this mantra particularly egregious is that it’s so demonstrably false – because just a decade ago, Israel did achieve a decisive military solution to terror, in the West Bank. And the officers now asserting that no such victory is possible aren’t new recruits who were children during the second Intifada and therefore might not remember what happened; they were active participants in that victory.


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