Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Bringing a knife to a gunfight 

"Bringing a knife to a gunfight" has become a popular phrase in the wake of the 2008 election, and numerous references to "The Chicago Way" pulled from the 1987 hit movie The Untouchables. Now, the IDF may produce a new expression in the aftermath of its disastrous raid on the flotilla attempting to deliver supplies to Gaza. The IDF brought paintball guns to a special forces operation. Commentary blogger Noah Pollak, not exactly someone who would self-identify as a constant critic of Israeli policy, finds this "astonishing."

I have to believe that if U.S. Navy SEALS had been ordered to do a boarding or interdiction operation armed in part with paintball guns, they would have thought it was some kind of bad joke. I suppose it goes to the point that the IDF is held to a unique standard, in the sense that it can never use lethal force without being subject to withering worldwide condemnation. To engage in a bit of Monday morning quarterbacking, it might have been better to at least bring shotguns with non-lethal beanbag ammunition (which pack more punch than paintballs, and don't have ugly colors), and disable the propellers of the flotilla boats through various means from the water, rather than fastroping down from choppers and trying to take the bridge. (If I had a dollar for every time my sailboat prop has caught lobster pot warp up in Maine, I'd be at least $5 richer, and have experienced much less, er, shrinkage, diving and clearing the prop).

Another idea for the Israeli government is that it might want to put former JFK speechwriter Ted Sorensen on retainer, so he can put the word "quarantine" out there, instead of the term "blockade," so people won't get as worked up about whether future interdictions happen in international waters or territorial waters. Not that October 1962 is a wonderful blueprint, or anything.

Despite my flippant tone, this is an incredibly serious incident, and may in fact represent a tipping point, or at least a key moment in time when huge international pressure is brought to bear on the Israeli government. If the U.N. Security Council acts more quickly in emergency session to convene to discuss this incident than it has to review the Cheonan sinking -- an incident involving many more deaths and potentially much worse ramifications -- then the momentum is clearly against Israel. The words coming out of the Obama administration this week will be an important barometer for Netanyahu and his staff. When even Commentary bloggers are offering selective criticisms of Israel, there is not much political downside for the Obama administration to vote to condemn Israel's actions along with the rest of the Security Council. I would expect at least one head to roll in Jerusalem -- Ehud Barak as Defense Minister. The IDF just has to do better, and get its mojo back, and sell all of its paintball guns.


By Blogger Progressively Defensive, at Tue Jun 01, 12:37:00 PM:

Mr. Tigerhawk, would you please post this with some insightful comments?


~$18,500/student spending in New York State for public education.  

By Blogger steve, at Tue Jun 01, 12:57:00 PM:

It doesn't matter. If Israel does not use lethal force now they will only be provoked further until they have to. Witness Lebanon and Gaza.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Jun 01, 03:52:00 PM:

I wonder if the Turks would start off using painball guns if there was a flotilla attempting to deliver supplies to the Kurds?

I'm thinking that they would go right to torpedoes.  

By Anonymous Mr. Ed, at Tue Jun 01, 04:19:00 PM:

In my view the momentum has been against Israel since before Obama was elected. Obama just cut everyone loose.

I don't see the boarding as such a disaster, though I may be in a minority. Nothing Israel does in service of its own defense will be met with world approval. The leaders of Israel know this.

As soon as they allow ships to dock in Gaza without clearing their customs, the weapons and missiles will flow in en masse. That is not an option.

Now I suppose the international community could propose that they administer customs inspections. But given the farce in Southern Lebanon, where Hezbollah stockpiles missiles and launchers right under the noses of the UN and tells the UN when they need to leave an area for privacy, why would Israel accept that?

No, I think the boarding was the right thing to do. Almost nobody will stand with Israel any more so Israel must stand up for itself. Israel needs respect more than anything else at this point.

Netanyahu seems to clearly articulate Israel's situation. Problem is, no one wants to hear what they have to say. It isn't a matter of getting the right PR advice. The press and many governments simply want to pile on as soon as possible, preferably without thought or analysis. So by their actions, and in the interest of gaining respect, they have no choice but to say, f*&^ You and the horse you rode in on.


By Blogger randian, at Tue Jun 01, 06:11:00 PM:

Given estimated enrichment levels of Iran's uranium, they'd need a boat to deliver a nuclear bomb. Add that to Israel's strategic calculus and you can see they can't let a boat anywhere near Gaza.

In fact, since much of Iran believes in the cult of the Hidden Imam, who requires 1/3 of the global pupulation to be killed before he can reincarnate, it would not be beyond them to nuke Gaza intentionally if an uninspected boat entered its port. They'd get to kill a bunch of Sunnis, create martyrs that would (in Iran's eyes) be guaranteed entry into heaven, and blame Israel for the nuke. No Muslim would listen to Israel's claims they were innocent. A full-scale invasion of Israel by Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Turkey, likely aided with men, money, and materiel by Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, and Somalia, would happen in a matter of days. Pakistan would probably pledge a few of their nukes to the cause too.

In this chaotic circumstance I think there would be significant risk of Turkish invasions of Greece, the remainder of Cyprus, and parts of the Balkans (once Muslim, Muslim forever). Turkish PM Erdogan has dreams of recreating the Islamic Caliphate, when the Turks ruled the Balkans nearly all the way to Vienna (where they were repulsed in 1683, the high point of Islamic rule in Europe).  

By Anonymous Just Because I'm Paranoid, at Tue Jun 01, 09:41:00 PM:

Turkey tried to land its little indignant flotilla in Gaza. From this, what can we infer?: Turkey is giving up on joining the European Union, clearly. The pro-Islamist elements in Turkey are now ascendant, probably. Turkey is already in Putin's orbit, possibly.

Sheeeeeet ... for anyone who's favorite Bond flick is still "From Russia With Love" ... this alone should be troubling.

But even more troubling, Egypt says it will no longer enforce the southern border of Gaza like it has been. So ... expect another rain of infitada "bottle rockets" or worse, soon.

And ... of course ... Iran is still out there ... with its long-standing ties to the Bad Guys in Lebanon and Syria.

Wolves circle prey, I fear.

Look ... I'm a lukewarm fan of Israel on even the best day ... but she is an ally ... and ... even though I have "No Foreign Policy Credentials Whatsoever" ... I can see what's coming. Am I wrong?  

By Blogger Gary Rosen, at Wed Jun 02, 02:36:00 AM:

Mr. Ed has it exactly right. Despite all the "public relations disaster" moaning I doubt if this incident changed *anyone's* mind about Israel. The Israel-bashers were going to pile on no matter what happened, and Israel's friends know what she is up against.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Jun 02, 10:27:00 AM:

They should outsource this to the North Koreans. Then the flotilla would be torpedoed and it would be years before anything was done about it.  

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