For defense, is less, more?
By Ted Belman
Gearge Friedman, STRATFOR GLOBAL INTELLIGENCE, in Israel’s Borders and National Security argues that less is more. He cites the example that Israel did better in the ’67 War fighting from pre ’67 lines than it did in the ’73 War fighting from the post ’67 lines.
You might argue that that is because Israel preempted in the ’67 War and didn’t in the ’73 War. Maybe so.
He also factors in Israel’s need for big power support for resupply.
Most important, if Israel is incapable of generating a national defense industry that can provide all the necessary munitions and equipment without having to depend on its allies, then it has no choice but to consider what its allies want. With the pre-1967 borders there is a greater chance of maintaining critical alliances. More to the point, the pre-1967 borders require a smaller industrial base because they do not require troops for occupation and they improve Israel’s ability to conduct conventional operations in a time of crisis.
There is a strong case to be made for not returning to the 1949 lines, but it is difficult to make that case from a military point of view. Strategic depth is merely one element of a rational strategy. Given that Israel’s military security depends on its relations with third parties, the shape of its borders and diplomatic reality are, as always, at the heart of Israeli military strategy.
Friedman as he says is focussed on military strategy only but he does acknowledge that “There is a strong case to be made for not returning to the 1949 lines”. He doesn’t make the case.
He also argues that military planning must prepare for “the worst case scenario”. He argues that were Israel to remain in its present borders, she must factor in no resupply or diplomatic support. But who is to say that Israel will have big power support if she retreats now. It is possible that in either event she will not have big power support in the next war. So wouldn’t she prefer the borders of today.