Thursday, May 14, 2009

Strange Bedfellows indeed

An argument I made in 2006, when Israel invaded Lebanon, about the likely lessons Muslims would learn:
Avowedly "Islamic" armies can match western power, secular nationalists can't. (I say that al Qaeda types now "know this" only because this is almost certainly how it will be interpreted by them.) Look at the history of Israeli-Arab conflicts to get an idea of how this can be read in to history: The wars of '48, '67, and even 1973 are pretty spectacular Arab defeats, though I hesitate to call '73 a rousing victory for Israel, costly as it was.

Meanwhile, the Mujahideen drove the Soviets out of Afghanistan (US aid has probably been forgotten), the resurgent Taliban looks to be laying the hurt on NATO forces there today (how soon until some young Afghan explains how Mullah Omar wasn't a "true muslim"?) and while the Arab nationalist Saddam Hussein collapsed before the Americans (twice!), the nominally muslim resistance will almost certainly drive the US Army out of Iraq. And now Hezbollah has stood up to the IDF in the field and survived. It's not a march through Tel Aviv, but for angry muslims across the world, it might as well be.
The Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army, last year:
Hezbollah inflicted more Israeli casualties per Arab fighter in 2006 than did any of Israel’s state opponents in the 1956, 1967, 1973, or 1982 Arab-Israeli interstate wars. Hezbollah’s skills in conventional warfighting were clearly imperfect in 2006—but they were also well within the observed bounds of other state military actors in the Middle East and elsewhere, and significantly superior to many such states.
When I tried to describe the arguments that Muslim fundamentalists would make, I didn't imagine the US Army would agree with those arguments.

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