Understanding the Arab Military Mind

A key aspect of winning any war is to define the goals. This is especially true of the current fighting in Gaza and Lebanon. By trying to do too much – or believing that one can achieve more than is possible – the result can be failure and certainly will be disappointment.

In this case, the mistake is to think that Israel can destroy Hezbollah or eliminate it as a political and military entity. To claim otherwise plays into the hands of Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran, which want to define their victory as Hezbollah’s survival.

Defining victory as merely survival is a pattern often typical of Arab (and Iranian) politics and it is simultaneously disastrous and sensible. It is disastrous because it courts defeat by attacking superior forces: the 1967 Six Day War, Saddam Hussein’s challenge to the United States and his attack on Iran, Yasir Arafat’s fighting an endless battle in which he was always defeated, and so on. The Arab side is left with tremendous losses in casualties and material, as is once again happening with Lebanon and the Palestinians.

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