The question in modern war, therefore, is how much can be accomplished through occupation, and how much must be accomplished through simple military force. If a substantial portion of the civilian population does not support your enemies, there is no utility in or moral justification for killing civilians. If a substantial portion of the population intensely supports your enemies, conversely, you must destroy the civilian support base. During World War II, we did not merely kill Japanese on battlefields in the Pacific -- we firebombed dozens of Japanese cities, including Tokyo, and then dropped the A-bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japan could not be subdued if its civilian support system remained standing. Occupation is far simpler once the civilian populace has been quieted.
Israel, however, declined to take such drastic measures. Wide-ranging and hard-hitting airstrikes were vetoed, as was a large-scale ground invasion. Israel certainly knew that Lebanese civilians throughout the south offered aid and support to Hezbollah, but heavily bombing such sites would have destroyed Israel's foolishly drawn distinction between "us" and "them." Israel certainly knew that the Muslim Lebanese would never welcome them as liberators; a thousand years of Muslim anti-Semitism precludes that. But attacking Hezbollah's civilian support sites would have turned Israel's "war on terror" into a "war on Islamo-fascism" -- a war Israel does not want to fight. Israel had to eliminate Hezbollah's civilian support network in southern Lebanon -- but that was precisely what Israel was unwilling to do. Israel lost because Israel blinded itself to the necessities of war. America must learn from Israel's failure.
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