Israel lives under the shadow of the failure of the Second Lebanon War. This should not obscure the genuine achievement of IDF and the Shin Bet in vanquishing Palestinian terror during the Intifada. The reasons that terrorists and their groupies are so bitter about the security fence, the targeted assassinations and the commando raids is that they work - they stopped terrror attacks.
But a word to our American friends: Caution: Do not try this stunt in your home. Requires professional training. What works in a small area of 2000 square kilometers that can be sealed off relatively hermetically may not work so well in a large country of 25 million with two porous and hostile borders that is far from your homeland. What works for an intelligance agency that relies on humint and has numerous Arabic speakers of unquestioned loyalty at its disposal will not work for an intelligence agency that relies on electronic intercepts and has to wait two years before they are translated. Israel's success in the West Bank has come at a great price for Palestinian Arabs, who have to go through a regime of checkpoints. If you want to win hearts and minds, this is not the way. Moreover, Israel's success in the West Bank has thus far not been replicated in Gaza.
The only people who can effectively fight terror in Iraq are Iraqis. If they don't want to do it, it will not happen.
From the Wall Street Journal:
The Israeli Lesson
February 5, 2008; Page A16
The news about yesterday's suicide bombing in the Israeli town of Dimona is that it's news. In 2002, at the height of the second intifada, 451 Israelis were killed in terrorist attacks, including 14 suicide bombings. By contrast, yesterday's attack, which killed one and injured 11, was the first of its kind in more than a year.
This didn't happen by accident, or because Palestinian radicals have somehow become less hostile to Israel. Responsibility for yesterday's attack was claimed by the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, which is affiliated with President Mahmoud Abbas's ostensibly moderate Fatah party. Islamist Hamas remains even more ardently dedicated to Israel's destruction, a point it emphasizes with its rocket barrages at southern Israeli cities close to the Gaza Strip.
Instead, the difference has come because of Israel's increasingly successful antiterrorist efforts. Key to that success has been the construction of its ostensibly "illegal" security fence, its equally "illegal" targeted assassinations of key terrorist leaders, its "disproportional" attacks on terrorist enclaves in Jenin and elsewhere, and other actions that saved innocent lives but which much of the international community deplored.
One of the most common arguments against Israel's actions is that it would feed a "cycle of violence." It's fair to say that what happened is closer to the opposite. As Israel put pressure on terrorist leaders, they were forced to spend their time running for their lives rather than planning the next attack. As Israel set up physical obstacles to terrorism, the need for large-scale military incursions declined, allowing a semblance of normal life to return for Israelis as well as Palestinians. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, Israel proved that terrorists can be defeated -- a lesson that applies equally in Iraq.