Deterrence - Not Only by Force

Effective deterrence on the Lebanese front would require a clear political address that has an interest in maintaining the new status quo.
In Ha'aretz, Uri Bar-Joseph argues that there is no point in attempting to deter Hizbullah, since it has nothing to lose. Following the withdrawal from Lebanon and Gaza, Israel's deterrence has been eroded.

In order for Israel's deterrence to be effective, it needs a suitable opponent. The two crucial elements in such an opponent would be:

  1. an effective central regime that can deliver its obligations, and
  2. acknowledgement that the regime stands to lose something if it unilaterally changes the status quo.

Hizbullah's goal is to drive Israel into a comprehensive war. Since it is not a state, but a small organization, there is no point in attempting to deter it.

The Re'ut Institute contends that Hizbullah and other terror organizations strive to fundamentally de-legitimize Israel. Their political and military resistance to Israel is permanent. The difference between the Lebanese and the Palestinian arena stems from the existence of an "Address" for the permanent resistance:

  • The Palestinian arena is characterized by fragmentation between various organizations and within the organizations themselves and the Palestinian Authority has limited control. Therefore, Israel's ability to base its security policy on deterrence is compromised.
  • In Lebanon, although the ability to deter Hizbullah was limited, it has constituted a stable "address" on which pressure could be placed and demands could be made.
    Eroding Hizbullah's power and abilities may create a leadership vacuum in South Lebanon. If this vacuum would not be filled by the effective control of the Lebanese government or the international community, the reality in South Lebanon may become similar to that of Gaza.

Therefore, it is in Israel's interest that Lebanon and the PA develop political delivery capability through the deployment of the Lebanese Army in South Lebanon and the strengthening of the PA's governing abilities.


Uri Bar-Joseph, Ha'aretz, 7/24/06. Full Text (in Hebrew)