Yossi Sarid, was at the security cabinet table when the decision to escalate the war happened.
In this fascinating article he discusses the role of deterrence and its undermining by its continuous use:
Only once in history did America manage not only to win, but also to rehabilitate. The outcome of World War II was dictated not only by Franklin Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, but also by Harry Truman and George Marshall. Since then America has only been winning, continually winning and losing. And so it is with us, too - winning and winning, yet we have had no quiet for 40 years or even 40 days.
Iraq is destroyed, Afghanistan is destroyed, the Gaza Strip is destroyed and soon Beirut will be destroyed for the umpteenth time, and hundreds of billions of dollars are being invested solely in the vain war against the side that always loses and therefore has nothing more to lose. And hundreds of billions more go down the tubes of corruption.
Maybe the time has come to put the pistol into safety mode for a moment, back into the holster, and at high noon declare a worldwide Marshall Plan, so that the eternal losers will finally have something to lose. Only then will it be possible to isolate the viruses of violence and terrorism, for which quiet is quagmire and which in our eyes are themselves quagmire. And once isolated, it will be possible to eradicate them one day.
Ilan Pappe wrote What does Israel Want? The whole article is very good:
I have been teaching in the Israeli universities for 25 years. Several of my students were high ranking officers in the army. I could see their growing frustration since the outbreak of the first Intifada in 1987. They detested this kind of confrontation, called euphemistically by the gurus of the American discipline of International Relations: ‘low intensity conflict’. It was too low to their taste.
The politicians at the top are more tamed, to a point. They have only partially satisfied the army’s hunger for a ‘high intensity conflict’. But their politics of the day are already donned by military propaganda and rational. This why Zipi Livni, Israeli foreign minister, an otherwise intelligent person, could say genuinely on Israeli TV tonight (13 July 2006) that the best way to retrieve the two captured soldiers ‘is to destroy totally the international airport of Beirut’. Abductors or armies that have two POWs of course immediately go and buy commercial tickets on the next flight from an international airport for the captors and the two soldiers. ‘But they can sneak them with a car’, insisted the interviewers. ‘Oh indeed’ said the Israeli Foreign Minister, ‘This is why we will also destroy all the roads in Lebanon leading outside the country’. This is good news for the army, to destroy airports, set fire to petrol tanks, blow up bridges, damage roads and inflict collateral damage on a civilian population. At least the airforce can show its ‘real’ might and compensate for the frustrating years of the ‘low intensity conflict’ that had sent Israel’s best and fiercest to run after boys and girls in the alleys of Nablus or Hebron. In Gaza the airforce has already dropped five such bombs, where in the last six years it dropped only one.
This may be not enough, though, for the army generals. They already say clearly on TV that ‘we here in Israel should not forget Damascus and Teheran’. Past experiences tell us what they mean by this appeal against our collective amnesia.
The options being evaluated:
The captive soldiers in Gaza and Lebanon have already been deleted from the public agenda here. This is about destroying the Hizballah and Hamas once and for all, not about bringing home the soldiers. In a similar way in the summer of 1982, the Israeli public have totally forgotten the victim that provided the government of Menachem Begin with the excuse of invading Lebanon. He was Shlomo Aragov, Israel’s ambassador to London on whose life an attempt was made by a splinter Palestinian group. The attack on him served Ariel Sharon with the pretext of invading Lebanon and staying there for 18 years.
Alternative routes for the conflict are not even raised in Israel, not even by the Zionist left. No one mentions commonsensical ideas such as an exchange of prisoners or a commencement of a dialogue with the Hamas and other Palestinian groups at least over a long ceasefire to prepare the ground for more meaningful political negotiations in the future. This alternative way forward is already backed by all the Arab countries, but alas only by them. In Washington, Donald Ramsfeld may have lost some of his deputies in the Defense Department, but he is still the Secretary. For him, the total destruction of the Hamas and Hizballah ---whatever the price and if it is without loss of American life --- will ‘vindicate’ the raison d’être for the Third World Theory he propagated early on in 2001.
Billmon comments on Ilan's article here.
Gideon Levy asks the question Who started?.
Harper's interviews a professor that used to be in the West Point faculty and has specialized in Shiite political movements, the six questions and answers are here. He has a few interesting alternative explanations to the ones that have been discussed on the forums in the last few days.
To remind you, I, like other residents of northern Israel, am under martial law. As are the foreign journalists -- and in addition they are required to submit their copy to the military censor. So all I can tell you, without breaking the law, is that you are not hearing the entire picture of what has been happening here in the Galilee.
Certainly, a piece of news that I doubt you will hear from the foreign media, although bravely the liberal Hebrew media has been drawing attention to the matter, is that the "only democracy in the Middle East" has all but silenced al-Jazeera from reporting inside Israel.
The reason is clear: until recently al-Jazeera had been running rings around the local and foreign press.
But al-Jazeera’s coverage inside Israel -- the Arab world’s best chance of being exposed to the Israeli point of view -- is being effectively shut down. In the past two days, its editor has been arrested on two occasions and another senior journalists taken in for questioning. According to its reporters, they cannot move from their office without being followed by the Israeli security services.
NY Times Reports
From Tyre, the New York Times has published a Flash video with pictures: here