by David Lev
Earlier this week, Military Intelligence head Amos Yadlin presented what many called a very pessimistic forecast before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. According to Yadlin, the regional is moving inexorably towards war, and that the coming war would be the most difficult Israel ever faced.
But perhaps even more serious was the forecast by Israel’s IDF military history expert Dr. Uri Milstein, a respected researcher and iconoclastic analyst . “I have begun to have my doubts as to whether the IDF is up to the task of defending this country,” Milstein told Arutz 7. “Our enemies have grown stronger, while in some circles, our motivation has fallen. Part of our society is frightened. Even if more people die on their side, they are more willing to sacrifice than we are.”
In his presentation before the committee, Yadlin sketched out the formidable facing Israel in the coming years and explained which group in Israel is the cause of his remarks. Yadlin said that in the coming war, Israel’s enemies would attack on at least two fronts, “if not more. We cannot draw any conclusions about future battles from the Second Lebanon War or from Cast Lead, but we can say a future war will be more massive and widespread, with many more casualties.”
The threat comes from the thousands of “cheap missiles” Syria, Hizbullah and Hamas have acquired, along with sophisticated defense systems now in the hands of Syria, and perhaps Hizbullah as well. “Our enemies have been following a strategy based on the belief that the only way to overcome Israel’s deterrence is through long range missile fire and improving air defense capabilities.” As such, they have been doing whatever they could to acquire both offensive and defensive systems. Russia has been a great help in this regard, Yadlin remarked.
At the meeting, Yadlin also focused on Iran, telling Mks that his group has discovered two new nuclear installations in Iran. “Iran declared it would set up ten new nuclear facilities, and Military Intelligence has identified two of them.” He added that the IDF knew much more about Iran’s nuclear program than in the past, and that most of the “black holes” in Iran’s deployment had been filled in. He added that soon Iran would have enough uranium now for at least one nuclear bomb.
Speaking to Arutz 7, Milstein, who has long been critical of the IDF and political establishment’s management of Israel’s defense, said that little has changed since the Yom Kippur war, which Milstein critiqued in the first of over two dozen books he has written over the years. Describing Yadlin’s straightforward presentation of the troubles Israel is facing as “better late than never,” Milstein said that Yadlin, who was military intelligence chief during the Second Lebanon war, had apparently learned a lesson.
In the past, Milstein has written that in that war, as in previous battles, Yadlin and other security chiefs did not realize that advanced weapons alone are not enough for victory. “Now it seems he does understand the situation,” Milstein said. “During the Second Lebanon War we did not achieve our goals of defeating Hizbullah, and instead they grew stronger. During Operation Cast Lead we attempted to strike a death blow to Hamas, but they just got stronger. So, obviously, the situation will be more difficult next time,” he said. Milstein doubts that the IDF will be able to achieve the goals it needs to during the coming war. “Our enemies have gotten much stronger, and they know how to accept losses much better than we can.”
The problem, Milstein says, is the left. “In the leftist bastions of Ramat Aviv and Kfar Shmaryahu, they are still convinced that peace will come if we give up Judea and Samaria and the Golan. They probably won’t change their minds even if missiles rain down on Tel Aviv. The only way they will change their mind is if we do surrender these areas, and they find that the Arabs still make war against us.”
Milstein, who was appointed official historian of the paratroopers by the late Rafael Eitan, has written histories of each of Israel’s wars, including the War of Independence. In 1995 he published a work critical of Yitzchak Rabin during his tenure as commander of the Palmach pre-state fighting organization, called “The Rabin File: How the Myth Was Inflated.” After Rabin’s assassination, Milstein was discharged from Bar-Ilan University on account of his writings about Rabin.
One theme in his books is that Israel has been in thrall to the left, at least since the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War. Nearly all aspects of the IDF are politicized, he says, from the way its history is presented to the way it trains officers. If is this “intellectual prison” that Israel must break free from if it hopes to prevail in the next war. But, he says, “unfortunately for us, the left is still a prisoner of this false vision of peace with the Arabs.”