Sunday, October 23, 2016

Maoz, Ze’ev. Closing Remarks on the Yom Kippur War: Lessons Learned and Lessons Forgotten. (21-22 Oct 2013) Institute of Israel Studies.

  First off, let me point out that we political scientists, sociologists, economists cannot do what they do without reading and understanding what the historians do. [Mnemotechnique] History is the Laboratory of all the Social Sciences. The work of the historian is indispensable for any of us who tries to understand long-term complex processes.

  What was it that political decision-makers wanted to accomplish at a given point in Time? Did they accomplish it? If not, why not? Does the pattern repeat itself of a gap between objective Actions and Consequences, and if it does, why? Can we learn from it?

  One of the things that we observed at this Conference is that documents do not create a consensus. Sound of laughter. You still have to interpret them, and when you come to Interpretation, People differ.

  It’s important to understand that the Yom Kippur War was not one-sided affair. It was multi-lateral. It was Egypt and Syria who started this process, tried to get Jordan involved, and Jordanians didn’t want to get involved. Got the Iraqis involved, and then the whole process unfolded in the way that Israel got involved, and United States and Soviet Union and a bunch of other actors and so on.

  First off, Israel changed its aerial Strategy, both developing very sophisticated Technologies, dealing with anti-aircraft Missiles and with anti-aircraft Warfare.

  And secondly, they developed Capabilities to deal with the Conflict. Now, another point about the end of the War. The reason Israel won the War. There’s no question about it. In fact, it was the last Victory of Israel in any of the Wars because it didn’t win judging by the Relationship between objectives and outcomes. Any of the subsequent War in Lebanon. I contend that it also didn’t accomplish its major political objective in the 2008-2009 Gaza Confrontation, which was to destroy Hamas’ hold in Gaza, so essentially Israel has not won since 1973 any of the War. And given the starting point of the 1973 War, in many respects, I tend to agree that it was as significant a Victory as the 1967 War or perhaps even more so. So one of the things that Israel has done is try to basically learn from what is considered to be a defeated side-effect that. It wasn’t defeated, but the trauma, the psychological and political and even the doctrinal trauma of the War led it to engage in this very elaborate effort to overcome the problems that it confronted during the War.

  Coming back to the Question of whether 1973 War was avoidable and the lesson that we can draw from it is that it was completely avoidable. It was completely avoidable precisely because after the War, we were willing to give up exactly that which we refused to give up before the War.

  First thing what we didn’t learn from the 1973 War was the fact that what brought about both the intelligence failure, the inability to provide an early Warning, and the strategic failure, which I’ve just discussed, was the fact that the Security Community, the IDF, the military Intelligence, in particular, had and continued to capture a dominant position in the policy-making process of Israel.

  Can we learn from this War? Well, I think we can. I think we need to debate it, and I don’t think that there is a single lesson that can be learned from History, but we can learn from it.

  I think that one of the problems that we have is admitting that we failed. We fail to admit that we failed in Lebanon in 1982. There’s still a Debate. There’s still a Debate on a failure to admit that the War in 2006 was unnecessary.

  I think that we need more open Debate on very critical Questions such as the Value of Nuclear Weapons, the policy towards Iran. There is a debate about the policy towards the Palestinian, but I don’t see anyone seriously challenging this notion of, “You have to continue through Settlements because this happens,” and the same People who support the Settlements keep getting re-elected and reappointed to the Coalition.

  Finally, as I mentioned, methodologically, it’s important to study, not only episodes. Episodes are important, especially watershed Crises like the Yom Kippur War, but it’s important to understand trends. If you want to learn from past mistakes, again, not only to repeat them, but to fix problem, then don’t look only at the episode. Look at the trend, and if you find this trend repeated. This over-my-dead-body syndrome or elements of that kind of dominant structure of a dominant influence of the Security Community on Foreign Policy. Ask yourself, have we, how well did we do with this stuff?

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