I’ve just finished Martin van Creveld’s paper, “How Not to Fight Terrorism”. Van Creveld is a writer and Professor at Hebrew University and offers a fascinating view of counter insurgency warfare.
He illustrates his points by giving us the reflections of Moshe Dayan, one of the most brilliant generals in Israeli history. If not THE most brilliant. Dayan should be required reading in every military academy.
General Dayan may not be Sun Tzu – but, he knows the kind of war that we are fighting today. And it’s the same kind of war that we lost in Vietnam.
Many don’t know that Dayan spent time as a war correspondent for Israeli newspapers. Like all good correspondents, he did his homework. He interviewed French generals. He interviewed the brass at the Pentagon.
Then he flew to Vietnam.
Draw any conclusion that you like from what he says, but there is one that we should all remember. It’s all about intentions.
Moshe Dayan was impressed with the good will and determination of America and her armed forces. He loved the patriotism and the desire to really help the South Vietnamese.
That patriotism, and those good intentions just weren’t enough.
They are vital in time of war, but can also blind us to reality – if you don’t have the humility to learn from others. This blindness was part of the reason why the US didn’t recognize the great resource that they had in Moshe Dayan. I believe that the US suffered defeat because of that.
Israel understands this kind of war better than anyone else. We live this kind of war ever single day, and have lived it for almost sixty years.
Learn from our example.
How Not to Fight Terrorism, by Martin van Creveld