OpinionIsrael at War

To win a war, fight one

If your enemy is fighting a war and you're fighting something less than a war, the enemy will win.

Israeli soldiers seen in Kibbutz Be'eri, near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel on Oct. 11, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
Israeli soldiers seen in Kibbutz Be'eri, near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel on Oct. 11, 2023. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
Daniel Greenfield
Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli-born journalist who writes for conservative publications.

As highly civilized people, we’ve lost touch with some basic concepts. Like war.

We complain that we never win wars anymore, but that’s because we don’t fight them. Instead, we have limited interventions against insurgents. We try to stabilize failed states. Sometimes we go in, take out a few terrorists, and then go back home. Veterans, whose wounds are very real, sit around wondering what it was all for. So do the families of the men who died fighting in a war that was never a war.

To win a war, you have to fight one.

If your enemy is fighting a war and you’re fighting something less than a war, the enemy will win.

Police actions, nation-building exercises and the like have vague and poorly defined objectives, while wars have very clear ones.

Wars are either won or lost. That’s why modern governments rarely like fighting them…. Once you declare a war, you know you have to win.

We fight things that are not wars to “stabilize” regions. Wars are not fought for stability, but destruction. To win a war, destroy the enemy. That’s what the United States and its allies did in WWII, raining mass death and destruction on Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in ways that still make modern liberals cringe.

“The Nazis entered this war under the rather childish delusion that they were going to bomb everyone else, and nobody was going to bomb them,” said Arthur Harris, the Royal Air Force chief of Bomber Command, in 1940.

“The harder we push, the more Germans we kill. The more Germans we kill, the fewer of our men will be killed. Pushing harder means fewer casualties. I want you all to remember that,” General Geroge Patton told the Third Army.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s obsession with taking the war to Japan led to the Doolittle Raid. One of the bombs from that raid hit a school. “It is quite impossible to bomb a military objective that has civilian residences near it without danger of harming the civilian residences as well. That is a hazard of war,” Doolittle had warned.

That is what war is. It’s why wars should not be fought lightly. But when you fight them, fight to win.

A just war is based on a fundamental moral clarity about your enemies, not your tactics. War crimes are a meaningless term except when applied to violations of an agreement between the two combatants or civilians that are not a party to the conflict. That is not the case in Gaza. And is rarely the case when fighting Islamic terrorists.

The United States met the Japanese torture, execution, abuse, medical experimentation and cannibalism of our troops with increased determination to win at any cost. The cost was Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These were not war crimes, this was how a regime of monsters that committed unspeakable atrocities was finally forced to surrender.

That is what fighting to win means.

Winning against Hamas does not mean dropping a few bombs on buildings, staging a limited incursion, taking out a few Hamas leaders and then letting Turkey and Egypt negotiate a truce. That’s not a war.

Winning means destroying Hamas, its leaders, its terrorists and its supporters by any means necessary, and securing the territory they operated from so that it cannot be used to stage similar attacks.

Can Israel fight and win such a war? Yes, it can. Will it? That’s the question.

Israel, like America, has tried not fighting wars. That is what led to the horrors of the Oct. 7 attacks. It may want to fight and win a war before it’s too late.

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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