The belief that asymmetric warfare, in which conventional armies are forced to fight ostensibly weaker terrorists who don’t fight by the rules, can only be won by political rather than military means and that therefore states must talk to terrorists, currently commands enormous political support in the west and is to a large extent responsible for the mood of defeatism and appeasement that currently grips its elites. All the more bracing, therefore, to read this fine analysis by Maj-Gen Yaakov Amidror of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, which magisterially refutes this counsel of despair. An asymmetric war is certainly winnable against terrorist insurgents, he says, provided certain principles are followed. Unfortunately, this is far from the case at present, not least in Israel, but that’s another matter. Amidror lays down six basic conditions for victory of which the first is:
A political decision to defeat terrorism, stated explicitly and clearly to the security forces, and the willingness to bear the political cost of an offensive.Victory, however, has to be reconceptualised as ‘sufficient victory’ which requires us to rethink our idea of surrender ceremonies, parades and ‘mission accomplished’ declarations. Instead, ‘sufficient victory’ involves a tapering-off of violence to a level with which people can live:
As such, terror is not completely destroyed but is contained at a minimal level, with constant investment of energy in order to prevent its eruption…Amidror dismisses with contumely (and numerous examples) the assumption that terrorism can never be defeated by military means but only by changing the other side’s attitudes (the driving idea of ‘peace processes’). On the contrary, he says, it can only be defeated by military means:
Success on the battlefield led to the destruction of Communist terror’s capability in Greece without a change in anyone’s cognizance. The same applies to the present situation in the West Bank. The current tranquillity was achieved not because someone changed his cognition about the other side, but because the IDF and the Israel Security Agency almost completely liquidated the terror organizations’ capacity for action.
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