As I listen to Iranian and Hezbollah leaders deliver their dark and dismal
speeches, I often wonder: Do “bad guys” know they are bad? In our value system,
terrorism is immoral and despicable. But we face enemies who seem to adhere to
no moral scale or code.
Different peoples and cultures possess different
scales by which they conduct various aspects of their lives. If you try to
evaluate a situation with the wrong yardstick, you are bound to make
An example of this is the Western assumption that all humans
desire “peace and prosperity,” when in fact most Middle Easterners follow a very
Palestinians seek the establishment of a state on the
ruins of Israel, and their horizon is generations, not years.
similarly misunderstood. Our goal is not peace and prosperity either, for if it
were, we would have moved to Canada by now. Our historic mission is sustaining
the homeland of the Jewish people, and our perspective is millennia.
is true on a national and religious level, but unfortunately not always
implemented on a regular basis. Politicians think and act in timelines that
mostly influence their terms in office, so we suffer from lack of long-term
planning and are led to judge short- instead of long-term
These are scales of values, national aspirations and time.
But there are other scales, in almost every aspect of our lives.
curious beings. We need to know how things are lined up, where we stand, and how
we fit in. We construct tangible and cognitive scales and by drawing comparisons
to others, we better understand ourselves.
We have the same drive and
passion that led Galileo Galilei to observe, conclude and challenge contemporary
thinking in the 17th century.
During the course of history, we discover
over and over again how narrow our spectrum has been and we recalibrate our
entire scale system.
A good example is the visible zone within the
The scales we construct shape reality and not
only reflect it. You can become poor overnight if the “poverty line” is raised
by a notch. We progressively pay our taxes according to defined “tax
I believe that many of our scales are inappropriate and
distorted. Some things are immeasurable and sometimes we don’t use the right
tools. Occasionally we lack perspective, are not on the same plane or even in
the same dimension to correctly assess the situation.
diplomacy, we naively attempt to show the world our real position, while
countering those who would have us on the bottom margin of the moral scale. How
can we be so misunderstood, so misrepresented? The answer is that we are not
evaluated by the same standards, and are usually not evaluated at all, but
rather deliberately portrayed in a distorted manner.
In every cultural
and religious clash I examine, I find that the problem is not positions on the
scale, but disagreement on what scale to use.
In Israel, the stress scale
is a challenging one to calibrate. Things are quite stressful as it is, but
there are those who make a point of keeping us always at the peak.
Over-dramatization of events by the media is intended to make us consume more
commercials. Too many Israelis relate to the news as an objective source of
information, instead of what it really is – a manipulative
Unmanned aircrafts (drones) are a popular theme for
For the past decade, Iran and Hezbollah have been developing
drones capable of reaching Israel. This is a natural development of modern
warfare, and we know that we have the upper hand, both in developing and
deploying our own, and in intercepting those of the enemy.
I believe this
issue has been blown out of proportion.
We shouldn’t over-glorify
successful intercepts or feel contrition when an enemy drone gets through our
defenses. They are more a propaganda tool than an operational capability. Iran
can get better imagery of Israel using Google Earth.
With our array of
sophisticated drones, it’s natural to have occasional malfunctions. Amazingly,
not only is every incident reported, but the headlines usually attach dramatic,
mysterious and even conspiratorial causes (such as claiming that a drone was
cyber-jacked by Iran).
Sorry to ruin all the fun, but the truth is
usually simple and boring.
Understanding spectrum and magnitude is
especially critical in dealing with national security.
Lesson No. 1 at
the Israel National Defense College is that the military is only a segment in
the spectrum of a country’s national security. It is also understood now that in
modern warfare, military power alone cannot suffice and only an interagency
approach can prevail.
In national security, misunderstanding scales can
lead to grave consequences.
A dynamic field of military thinking is the
conceptualization and redefinition of the spectrum of warfare. We no longer have
a simple spectrum between “routine” and “war.” Our newly coined “the campaign
between the campaigns,” indicates the constant state of flux between changing
levels of conflict.
In the US military, the range of military operations
has been revised and expanded to blend all forms of warfare and reflect
New ideas and doctrine now include terms such as
“hybrid warfare” and “antiaccess/ area denial.”
The gravest mistake we
made in the Second Lebanon War in 2006 was calling it a war only after it ended.
As events unfolded, we failed to identify or define where we stood on the
warfare scale, and this led to erroneous operational decisions. We made the same
mistake before, fully recognizing the War of Attrition with Egypt only in 2003,
32 years after it ended.
Scales are everywhere. They are essential to our
situational awareness and serve as a reference for decision making, from the
personal to the national level.
We must constantly evaluate and calibrate
the scales we use, and carefully assess our position on them. We should also
remember that many scales are non-linear and require terminology that is not
deterministic or dichotomous.The writer is a former pilot in the IAF,
founder of Cross-Cultural Strategies Ltd. and International Project Manager at