Thursday, March 31, 2016

Containment and Restraint: Bad and Good

By Zvulun Orlov

In the Front Lines of World Terrorism

Our continuing national struggle against the wave of murderous terrorism has awakened anew the dispute about whether the technique of "containment" and "restraint" in our fight against terrorism is the best way to eliminate it. On one hand, there is a no-holds-barred approach which demands, among other things, harsh punishment and deterrence of the surroundings, beyond merely destroying the homes of the terrorists. This would include expelling the families of terrorists, punishing the residents of the village where he or she lived with curfews and cancelling work permits in Israel, confiscation of VIP status, and more. On the other hand, there is another approach which demands immediate negotiations with the PLO, acceding to their conditions for beginning to talk: removal of roadblocks, a building freeze in Yehuda and the Shomron, and the release of convicted terrorists who have murdered Israelis.

The terrorist attacks in Europe have shown that the fanatic Moslem ideology which strives to murder and destroy people and countries which deny Islam is linked to the motivations of a wide variety of organizations: Hamas, ISIS, Hezbollah, Al-Kaida, and more. Islamic terrorism was not born because of national problems and questions of borders but rather stems from a rejection in principle of the right of the Jewish nation to exist. The "El-Aksa Intifada" and "Conquest Leads to Despair" are no more than media "spins" that mean to make terrorism legitimate and not a reason for the attacks.

Even though it is true that the struggle against terrorism is worldwide, we are at the front lines of the battle. Our only alternative is to find for ourselves the best way to vanquish it. We have the most experience and lead all the other nations in the world in decreasing and eliminating terrorist activity. In the past we won the battle by the virtues of a logical security combined with the superior quality of our security services and the superior quality of the IDF, the Border Patrol, and the police. We won because we stood united against the terrorists and those who sent and supported them, without any intervention of personal or party politics. In the previous governments, those who made decisions on the issues of the struggle against terrorism, led by the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister, knew that even if there were dissenting opinions in the Security Cabinet, the government, or the coalition – and even in the Zionistic opposition – they would not be made public. The leadership knew that it would find broad support for its actions.

There is a Problem with Unity

More recently, starting with Operation Protective Edge, something has gone wrong – There was no longer a single unified voice, not even in the Cabinet, the government, and the coalition. Ministers, including members of the Cabinet, MK's and public figures, publicly offer advice about how to remedy the situation. Every speaker has magically become a self-appointed strategic expert. Ministers propose their own laws, not – as is the accepted practice – as government-sponsored legislation but rather as private proposals of MK's, behind the backs of the government and the Cabinet. Anybody who does this bears no responsibility for the consequences and is not limited by the ability to perform the proposed actions. The main thing is that they sound good to the voters, and demonstrate the leadership capabilities of the ones who make the proposals. Even if such plans are good, why should they be revealed in advance to the enemy, who will then be forewarned and able to change his techniques accordingly? This is populism at its extreme! How can we expect the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister to put their best efforts into the fight against terrorism and to obtain worldwide backing, when ministers and MK's are breathing down their necks in an effort to garner more votes for themselves in the next primary elections?

The criticism and the pressure by politicians to give a public reply to the question of why we have not immediately quashed the terrorism reminds me of the words of Avigdor Kahalani, who received a Medal of Valor in the Yom Kippur War, who said to his troops at the critical moments of the battle: "Not only you are having a difficult time because there is not enough ammunition and fuel, and you are bone weary. The Syrians have the same problems. Whoever holds out 20 seconds longer than his enemy will win the battle." Kahalani's soldiers held out longer than the Syrians, and they were victorious against a better-equipped army. This time too we will be able to win over the terrorism if we have more patience and self-restraint than they do. Give them enough time to collapse before we do.

"Contain" the "Restraint"

The foolish behavior in our midst ties the hands of those who must make decisions. Those who are in favor of "containment" in the fight against terrorism should also adopt the approach of "containment" with respect to their criticism of the way the struggle is being handled by those who are really in charge: The Prime Minister, the Defense Minister, and the Security Cabinet. The techniques for fighting against terrorism do not appear in facebook or in the media. The proper realms for discussion are the Cabinet and the subcommittee for defense of the Committee for Defense and External Affairs, which must operate under strict secrecy, with absolutely no leaks. There any proposal can be brought up and discussed fully. Those in charge must be free of any political or party influence, and they must be able to focus exclusively on the problem of eliminating terrorism. Internal containment and restraint towards them will guarantee that they keep their sights on eliminating terrorism, without any worry about electoral losses and without being dragged into personal or party political struggles.

It is important for us to hold the discussion about "containment" and "restraint" with respect to terrorism in the right place, certainly not in public. Let the leaders of the war achieve victory.

(Ed. Note: Orlev assumes that the PM, DM and Cabinet actually are capable of victory.  They are not. This is what happens when you fight a war based on what looks bad on CNN.)

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