Destroy the Enemy to Obtain One Hundred Years of Peace:


Part I Epaminondas


By Prof. Paul Eidelberg


“Those who wish to enjoy peace must be ready for war.”




Referring to the democratic reformer Epaminondas, the warrior-philosopher

whose Theban army defeated Sparta (370-369), military historian Victor Davis

Hanson offers insights which Israeli generals and citizens as well as

universities should take most seriously.  Thus, in The Soul of Battle: From

Ancient Times to the Present Day, How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny

(1999) Professor Excerpts from this superb book follow:


“I think it is almost axiomatic that if a general of a great democratic march

is not hated, is not sacked, tried, or relieved of command by his auditors after

his tenure is over, or if he has not been killed [as was Epaminondas] or wounded

at the van, he has not utilized the full potential of his men, has not

accomplished his strategic goals?in short, he is too representative of the very

culture that produced him, too democratic to lead a democratic army?”


“Finally, we of the academic class are sometimes reluctant to equate mastery

of military command with sheer intellectual brilliance.  But to lead an army of

thousands into enemy territory requires mental skills far beyond that of the

professor, historian, or journalist?far beyond too the accounting and managerial

skill of the deskbound and peacetime officer corps.” 


“From Epaminondas’s philosophical training [he was a Pythagorean], the corpus

of his adages and sayings that have survived, and his singular idea to take

70,000 men into Laconia and Messinia, it is clear that, like both [William

Tecumseh] Sherman and [George S.] Patton, he had a first-class mind and was

adept in public speaking and knowledge of human behavior.  Perhaps with the

exception of Pericles and Scipio, it is hard to find any military leader in some

twelve centuries of Gaeco-Roman antiquity who had the natural intelligence,

philosophical training, broad knowledge, and recognition of the critical tension

between military morale and national ethics as Epaminondas the Theban.  In his

range of political and strategic thought, he towered over his Greek

contemporaries - in precisely the way Sherman did over all the generals of the

Civil War, precisely as Patton dwarfed his British and American superiors.”


“In short, Epaminondas, the philosopher, may have been the best educated man

of the ancient world - an education that stressed logic, mathematics, rhetoric,

memorization, philosophy, and literature, an education far more valuable to the

leadership of great democratic armies than what is offered in most universities



“There was one key ingredient to Epaminondas’s military career that perhaps

stands as an exemplar of democratic leadership.  Such generals must not be timid

or afraid, must not lead their army in the very manner in which they themselves

are audited and held accountable by a democratic consensus.  Emaminondas by all

accounts was a zealot and fanatic - Sherman and Patton [discussed the in sequel]

perhaps even more so.  The worst generals in the ancient and modern worlds were

those with a constant feel for the pulse of the assembly or board of overseers.”


“Armies are not assemblies.  The conduct of war is not a discussion over taxes

of public expenditures. The very qualities that make a poor democratic statesman

in peacetime - audacity, fatalism, truthfulness, fearlessness, initiative, hatred

of compromise, fanaticism, even recklessness - are critical for command of a great

egalitarian army, just as the strengths of a politician - affability,

consensus-building, retrospection, manners, inactivity even - can prove lethal to

a campaign.”


“Would that the American generals Schwarzkopf or Powell had risked resigning

for insisting that American troops march into Baghdad to liquidate the [Saddam]

Hussein regime [in 1991].”


And what shall we say of various Israeli generals who adhered to the feckless

policy of self-restraint vis-a-vis Israel’s implacable but Lilliputian enemy,

the PLO-Palestinian Authority?


(In PART II we shall see the wisdom of destroying Lebanon’s infrastructure,

just as Sherman destroyed that which sustained the Confederate Army in the

American Civil War.)


*      *      *


Terrorists and their planners are a lawful target

by Tom Cooney


The latest conflict in the Middle East has brought a shift in how international

law views states which are linked to terrorism, writes Tom Cooney.


International law bears on Israel's most recent responses to Islamic jihadist

terrorism. There is first Israel's military response to Hizbullah attacks from



The G8 statement on the Hizbullah's terrorist attack on Israel is significant

because it recognises Israel's right under international law to use military

force to defend itself. This tells us that international law has moved on in two



First, contrary to the International Court of Justice's stance, the

international community accepts that Israel has a right of self-defence under

article 51 of the United Nations Charter, even though Hizbullah is not a state.


Second, Israel may hold Lebanon directly responsible for the attack


Since 9/11, the threat of international terrorism has forced states to recognise

that a state that culpably fails to prevent terrorist attacks or facilitates

terrorist groups is directly responsible for the attacks. The underlying

principle is that states must counter international terrorism.


Lebanon hosts Hizbullah - its terrorist leaders, operatives, trainers and

planners, even though it knows what it does. Hizbullah shares government. UN

Security Council resolution 1559 obliged the Lebanese government to disarm



Instead, the government has facilitated Hizbullah, allowing Syria and Iran to

arm, train and supply it.


Hizbullah's attacks on Israel resulted, therefore, from Lebanon's failure to

counter international terrorism. Lebanon is like a police officer who harbours a

killer, helps him to get his gun and then assists him to target his victim.


Since Lebanon materially contributes to Hizbullah's terrorist activity, it is

responsible for the attack on Israel.


Iran and Syria must shoulder direct responsibility, too. Israel's armed response

must target combatants and be proportionate to the terrorist threat.


Next is the military operation to rescue its kidnapped soldiers. The terrorist

operations to seize the soldiers were an attack on the Israeli government and

violated international law. On even the narrowest interpretation of

international law, an Israeli rescue mission is an act of self-defence under

article 51 of the UN Charter.


Any rescue operation must be proportionate. The magnitude of the in-out military

rescue operation must be designed to effect a rescue and the action must be

necessary to save the soldiers.


Here the threat of death to the soldiers is imminent. Neither the Palestinian

Authority (PA) nor the Lebanese Government has tried to rescue them so

diplomatic means have failed. The Israeli response is immediate thus preserving

a nexus between the terrorist seizure of the soldier and the rescue mission.


There is, finally, Israel's decision to increase interceptive strikes by the IDF

against terrorists firing rockets into Israel. Israel has a moral and legal

right to defend itself against trans-boundary terrorism.


The objective of terrorist attacks is to murder innocent Israelis. Their scale

and effects have been significant. Because neither the PA nor the Lebanese

Government has tried to prevent terrorists from using their land as a

springboard for those attacks, Israel is entitled to engage in self-help.


Some say that Israel may only make a law-enforcement response. Israel must try

first to arrest the terrorists. Interceptive killing is lawful only if the

lethal force is absolutely necessary to defend Israelis from imminent acts of

unlawful violence.


The terrorists are civilians so they may be targeted only when they are carrying out their terrorist acts. When they complete their terrorist acts, they become civilians once again.


This analysis is feeble. To enforce the law, Israel must be able to arrest the

terrorists. Terrorists in Gaza, for example, are not within Israel's grasp.

Trying to arrest them would cause many civilian casualties.


Secondly, policing targets acts of individual wrongdoing, but Palestinian

terrorists engage in a systematic pattern of intense terrorist violence to serve ideological ends against Israel. They are organised combatants, not civilians.


The principle of distinction says that civilians have a legal shield against

direct military attacks so the IDF must refrain from harming civilians insofar

as possible. Terrorists however can't fight Israel and remain civilians.


In armed conflict, you are either a civilian or a combatant. Civilians who take

part in hostilities lose their legal protection and expose themselves to attack

as combatants.


Palestinian and Hizbullah terrorists though are not lawful combatants. They

often do not wear a fixed distinctive insignia on their persons or vehicles

throughout their operations. Combatants must be distinguishable from civilians.

They often do not carry their arms openly. Their war crimes - including directly

attacking civilians - turn them into unlawful combatants.


For these violations, Israel may, if it captures the terrorists, punish them. It

can deny them the benefits of prisoner-of-war status. It can detain them or try

them for their crimes of violence before its courts. The law of armed conflict

doesn't give them immunity (as it does a lawful combatant) from prosecution for killing their enemy.


Crucially, so long as they involve themselves in hostilities, Israel may target

them with interceptive strikes, but the strikes must be a necessary and

proportionate response intended to defend Israelis against further attacks.


True, interceptive strikes endanger civilians and, although the terrorists hide

among Palestinian civilians, this doesn't strip those civilians of their

protected status. While the terrorists are legitimate military targets, the

civilians are not. So civilians have a right not to be arbitrarily deprived of

their lives.


This complication though doesn't mean that Israel must stop its attacks.

Depending on the context, such attacks are permissible.


Firstly, the terrorists and their planners are a military objective and a lawful

target. Secondly, attacking them is a military necessity to prevent them from

killing Israelis. Thirdly, the means of attack - with precision weapons - is

permissible and not indiscriminate.


The principle of proportionality, however, requires that military targets must

be attacked in a way that minimises civilian casualties and damage, so

incidental damage to civilians must not exceed what is necessary to achieve a

legitimate military objective.


Commanders must assess the likely casualties, both military and civilian, and

weigh that against the concrete and direct military advantage they expect to

gain. The International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia in the Martic case and

in the Kupreskic case said that this requirement was a general principle of

international law.


For the G8 leaders, fighting international terrorism sometimes demands a

military response. The insight is that the law-enforcement model is inadequate

when an ideologically driven non-state aggressor (like Hizbullah or Hamas) has

the ability to destroy in ways that we used to assume that only states with

armies could deploy.


It is also that any state which hosts or facilitates international terrorists

bears responsibility for their attacks. That's a significant change.



Tom Cooney teaches law at University College Dublin's law school

The Irish Times


*      *      *


Comment by Prof. Paul Eidelberg


I have certain reservations about this excellent article, namely, its

discussion of “civilians.”


First, as much as 85% of the “Palestinians” have supported suicide bombers. 


Second, a large majority of these “civilians” voted for Hamas in the January 2006 election, knowing full well of Hamas’ genocidal objectives vis-a-vis Israel.  They have long known that these are the objectives of the Palestinian Authority, whether led by Arafat or Abbas.


Third, as for Lebanese civilians, they have long known that these are also the objectives of Hezbullah.  Hence they are not entirely innocent civilians. 


Ponder the following:


In a message honoring the heroes of the Warsaw ghetto, Albert Einstein



The Germans as an entire people are responsible for the mass murders and must be punished as a people if there is justice in the world and if the

consciousness of collective responsibility in the nations is not to perish from

the earth entirely.  Behind the Nazi party stands the German people, who elected Hitler after he had in his book [Mein Kampf] and in his speeches made his shameful [genocidal] intentions clear beyond the possibility of



Fourth, the Israel Defense Forces’ paramount obligation is to protect the

lives of its own citizens.  Hence, wherever Hezbullah positions its missile

launchers or other weapons - whether in private homes, hospitals, schools,

mosques - it is the IDF’s duty to destroy those launchers before they are used

against Israel - and it will usually take the risk of warning civilians to vacate

the target area.  In any event, it would be insane as well as immoral for the

IDF to put the lives of Lebanese civilians above the lives of Israelis. 

(Consider in this light the bombing of Dresden by the Allies in World War II.) 


Finally, international law - if at all relevant, that is, even if it applies to

Terrorists - is not the last word in the present situation. 

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