When the dust has settled, the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon will commence. It will soon become the IDF’s waking nightmare, to be inherited by any international stabilization force dumb enough to venture in.

Why? The short answer is that occupation of a hostile territory always is hell. The somewhat longer answer can be couched in terms of order and chaos.

From my blog.
It’s inherently far easier to create chaos than order. Because there are infinitely more ways for things to be disorganized than to be organized, tearing down is far quicker and less taxing than building up. South Beirut took twenty-two years to even partly rebuild and an equal number of days to turn back into refuse.

Total makeover: South Beirut before and after.

Now, in a conventional war of attrition, the aim is to disrupt the enemy’s organization and infrastructure, and the strongest force is the one that can do so most decisively. However, if the victor wants to occupy the conquered territory, his task is reversed: he must nourish order instead of destroying it, and he must do so amidst the rubble he himself created.

This gives the insurgency the advantage, not just because it’s easier to destroy than to build, but also because an army is designed to do the former.

Furthermore, in war it is generally not enough to contain the enemy: you have to harm him too. But when the occupying army strikes back to protect the order it seeks to impose, it usually fans the flames of disorder by antagonizing the civilian population.

This problem is exacerbated insofar as the insurgent force:

  • has a decentralized command structure, making it hard to deal a decisive blow;
  • is integrated with the civilian population, blending in with same;
  • is expected by the civilians to be around longer than the occupying force;
  • perceives itself, and is perceived by the civilians, as directly defending the homeland, while the occupiers at most perceive themselves as indirectly defending theirs;
  • consists of fighters who fear failure more than death;
  • is well-prepared and can be resupplied from outside.

On all of these variables, Hizbollah scores extremely highly.

The IDF is so hated that it is going to take serious losses before an international force arrives, if it ever does. As to the latter, it will be less hated (anything else would be tough to achieve) but also less motivated; and above all, the contributing nations will inevitably be far less prepared to take losses.

This occupation has the potential to make Afghanistan resemble a chamber music concert at a daycare center for the elderly. It is bizarre to see European countries like France and Denmark even thinking of signing up. The only two bodies of people I would like to see deployed into this meat-grinder are the Knesset and the US Congress; the latter with ‘410-8’ tattooed on their foreheads.