The lessons of History

I read that the Wingograd Committee has concluded that the army played too big a part in the decision-making at the political level during what is called the Second Lebanese War last Summer.

The Committee says this problem was compounded by the Government’s lack of military experience.

It so happens that I am near the end of Amos Elon’s ‘The Israelis: Founders and Sons’ and in Chaper 11 he writes that the external threats that make Israel a “nation in arms” make it ripe for militarism and a mentality that would ensure the supremacy of the army over the civil authorities.

And yet, he say, this is not the case. He talks about the army’s comparative informality, the forced retirement of officers at an early age, the ideals of the unprofessional soldier, of the farmer who leaves his land to fight and then returns to pick up his plough.

Elon wrote this in 1972. Has the ideal been abandoned?

And a question I have. If war is defined as a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations, or tribes, or groups, then how does a conflict between the State of Israel and Hizbollah meet that definition?

Of course we use the word ‘war’ in other senses – such as the ‘war on terror’ or the ‘war against poverty’. And yet it seems dangerous culturally and psychologically to describe the conflict between the State of israel and a group of terrorist/freedom fighters/guerillas (you choose your definition) as a war.

Unless one considers it a proxy war between Israel and Syria/Iran.