Israel's Military Response: "Powell Doctrine" lite

Ynet, July 03, 2001


SECRETARY OF STATE POWELL's spokesman, Boucher contended on April 17, 2001 that "The hostilities last night in Gaza were precipitated by the provocative Palestinian mortar attacks on Israel.  The Israeli response was excessive and disproportionate."  REALLY???          


THE POWELL DOCTRINE has suggested that the deployment of a disproportionate military power in required, in order to pound the enemy into submission: "The biggest s.o.b. on the block" rule.  America should enter fights with every bit of force available or not at all." (Time Magazine, April 19, 2001).  "Go in full force from the beginning rather than escalate yourself into a quagmire. Or don't go in at all." (Michael Kinsley, Slate Magazine, March 27, 1999). "Overwhelming US force assures success at minimum risk to Americans in uniform" (The Boston Globe, Jan. 19, 2001).  Israeli response to PLO terrorism has been significantly milder than the Powell Doctrine, although the threat has been significantly higher and on Israel's own borders.  Israel's threat has not been based thousands, or hundreds, of miles across the ocean, as has been the case with US JUSTIFIABLE operations against Iraq, Panama, Grenada and Libya. 


THE 1991 GULF WAR against the second-rate Iraqi military, featured Colin Powell assembling 540,000 troops, 4,000 tanks, 1,800 airplanes, 1,700 helicopters, 6 aircraft carriers, submarines, etc. "The total military deployment would be one of the largest by the US, since WWII.  Once completed, 34% of the Army's total forces would be deployed in the Gulf area, a higher ratio than in either the Vietnam or Korean wars... The total US deployment would also roughly equal the number of American forces stationed in Europe at the height of the Cold War." (Facts On File, Nov. 9, 1990).   In addition, Powell benefited from Britain's 43,000 troops, 300 armored vehicles, 168 tanks, 70 jets, 6 destroyers, 4 frigates, 3 minesweepers, France's 18,000 troops, 60 combat planes, 120 helicopters, 40 tanks, 3 destroyers, 1 missile cruiser and military forces from Germany, Canada, Belgium, Australia, Italy, etc.


The 1993 US BOMBING OF BAGHDAD employed 23 cruise missiles fired at Iraq's intelligence HQ in Baghdad, hitting a civilian neighborhood in the process, in reaction to an Iraqi attempt on the life of former President Bush (during his 1993 visit to Kuwait). Powell defined the operation, rightly, as "Appropriate, proportional and consistent with Article 51 of the UN Charter" (Washington Post, June 28, 1993).


OPERATION JUST CAUSE (US INVASION OF PANAMA, 1989) was carried out by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell, who oversaw the December 20, 1989 25,000 troops invasion, in pursuit of a narco-dictator (milder than Arafat, an ally of Saddam and a mortal enemy of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan), using the F-117 Stealth aircraft for the first time, hitting the PDF headquarters and the El Chorrillo neighborhood in Panama City. Twenty three US (and 315 Panama) soldiers were killed, as were hundreds of Panama City civilians ("collateral damage"), in the first few hours of the attack.  Thousands of civilians were injured and some 10,000 Panamanians were displaced. In his book, Powell concluded that Operation Just Cause confirmed the Powell Doctrine: "Use all the force necessary, and do not apologize for going-in big if that's what it takes."  Attorney General Thornburgh was accurate, when stating on December 20, 1989 that the US was acting in accordance with article 51 of the UN Charter, which recognizes the inherent right of self-defense.


THE MARCH and APRIL 1986 BOMBING OF LIBYA took place in reaction to the murder of US GIs, in Germany and in Spain, by Libyan-sponsored terrorists. In response to Libyan terrorism, the US deployed on March 24, 1986 two aircraft carriers (USS America and Coral Sea), attacking Libyan military targets in the Gulf of Sirte.  On April 14, 1986 the US launched an air and navy attacks (F-111s bombers, EF-111 electronic jamming planes, A-6 bombers, A-7 and F-18 attack aircraft) on Libya's capital, Tripoli, aiming at Qadaffi's presidential palace at El-Azziziya, Sidi Bilal port, the military section of Tripoli's international airport and military targets in Benghazi.  Dozens of civilians were killed, a number of residential homes were destroyed, the French Embassy was seriously damaged and the Austrian and Romanian embassies were hit. (Facts on File, April 18, 1986).


THE OCTOBER 25, 1983 US INVASION OF GRENADA was highlighted by 7,000 US troops, who were employed to topple the Marxist regime there, sending a message to Cuba and Nicaragua. The invasion was triggered by a bloody Marxist coup in Grenada, along with a perceived threat to 100 US medical students on the island, and Cuban engineers constructing an airport there. On the other hand, the Israeli operation in Gaza was launched following more than 100 Palestinian mortar shells hitting Israel, some 7,000 Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israelis since September 2000 (including lynching and scores of suicidal bombings), including the murder of a baby, hitting an Israeli school bus with anti-tank missiles, shelling Jerusalem, etc.  Should Israel's response be proportionate - dispatching suicidal bombers to Gaza???


THE RESPONSE TO TERRORISM SHOULD NOT BE PROPORTIONATE. IT SHOULD ADHERE TO THE POWELL DOCTRINE, aiming at uprooting - rather than stopping - terrorism.  The response should aim at dismantling terror infrastructure and capabilities (planning, logistics, operational, production, manpower), rather than hitting a few individual terrorists.  The US JUSTIFIABLE campaign against Iraq has demonstrated that there are enemies with whom one communicates on the battle field, rather than on the negotiation table.  The actions of the Bush #41, Clinton and George W. Bush Administrations, against Saddam, have indicated that sometimes the nature of the enemy precludes a political solution, and warrants a military solution.


Israel may consider adopting the justifiably disproportionate Powell Doctrine, but should - RESPECTFULLY - reject the statement made by Powell's spokesman and his disproportionate reference to Saddam's ally (PLO) and to US' sole soul ally, Israel, in the Mideast (Israel).