Can Terrorists Be Deterred?

(Ha'aretz) Moshe Arens - Where did this seemingly inexhaustible number of rockets in the hands of the terrorists in Gaza come from? They were stockpiled while Israelis thought Operation Cast Lead in 2009 had deterred the launching of rockets. Many people lulled themselves into believing that deterrence works on terrorists. Now it is said that deterrence needs to be refreshed. Will the current operation do that? Can terrorists be deterred? The fact that a conflagration is followed by a period of relative quiet may not mean that the terrorists, remembering the blows they received last time, are being deterred, but rather that they are using the time to resupply their armory with more and longer-range rockets in preparation for the next round. That's what happened in Gaza, and that's what's happening with Hizbullah in Lebanon. Nation-states can be deterred when faced by overwhelming force, but it is damn difficult to deter terrorists. If the terrorists cannot be deterred, and the population in the southern half of Israel is not to face recurrent rocket attacks, each time increasing in intensity, the terrorists have to be disarmed, their rockets destroyed and rocket supply lines blocked. That has to be the ultimate aim of a military operation or diplomatic initiative. Preventing the recurrence of rocket attacks on Israel in the coming months requires the cooperation of the Egyptian government. It must reestablish control over Sinai and block all attempts to supply weapons to Hamas and its affiliates in Gaza from Sinai. If at all possible, only American diplomacy can bring this about. The writer served as Israel's minister of defense three times, as minister of foreign affairs, and as Israeli ambassador to the U.S.

2012-11-19 00:00:00

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