Lebanon and demographics
For a hundred years Lebanon has been shifting from a Maronite-Christian country with a bunch of non-Christian minorities (the Druze -- my personal favorites, the Sunni, the Shia) to a Muslim country with a Christian minority that's trying to emigrate as fast as it can fake up its resume for Uncle Sam's Migras. That part of the war is over, and Islam won. All that's left to see now is which Islam ends up in power: the Shia, with Syria and Iran backing them, or the Sunni, who have the backing of...well, nobody, actually.
Add in a couple of real important facts nobody ever mentions on CNN -- birthrate and morale. The Shia, who cluster in the slums of S and E Beirut and in the rural south of Lebanon, have the highest birthrate in Lebanon and have always been the poorest, most death-hungry people around. That's the stuff you make great soldiers from.
And Hezbollah has great soldiers. That's one reason I can't help liking them. They're some of the most underrated soldiers on earth facing what I consider the most overrated military force on earth, the IDF. The Israelis have been coasting on their reputation for a long time, but way back in Gulf War I it was clear they made their record like a Don King fighter, padding their Win column against a bunch of bums. When I saw those pitiful Arab "soldiers" crawling toward US camera crews on their hands and knees to surrender, the first thing that went through my head was, "Whoa, so that's the kind of opponent the Israelis have been showboating against? Well Hell, my high school marching band could've beaten those Arab chickenshits!"
I'm not alone in that conclusion either. One of the top US commanders in GW I called the IDF "a bunch of arrogant pricks who wouldn't last ten minutes on a European battlefield." Well, that bit about a "European battlefield" is another sad case of our NATO obsession, but the point is, the IDF doesn't deserve its rep. It did once, back in 1948 and during Suez, when it was manned by double-tough survivors of the European Jews who were determined to show up the book-nerd stereotype by kicking ass from Haifa to Damascus. Those dudes were truly tough.
But we're talking demographics again, dude. Passage of time, plus difference in birthrate, means that by now the IDF has a thin, real thin, crust of Ashkenazi brains'n'brawn on top and a bunch of flabby mama's boys under them. See, those whitleather-tough survivors wasted their genes on the whole socialist kibbutz commune experiment, had a kid or two, or none. Their kids are old now. Meanwhile, Israel admitted every loser from Russia or Ukraine or Yemen who could claim a grandpa who liked carp or a grandma who carried the overprotective gene or whatever, anything that could make them look Jewish. Half of them were just lying to get out of their native Hellholes, and none of them were willing to die for Israel the way that kick-ass first generation was. Look at the news pictures up close, or just look at the pictures of that schmuck who got kidnapped in Gaza, Shalit, and you'll see what I mean: the weak and the freeloaders outbred the strong. Hell, that loser's name says it plain enough. What kind of soldier would anybody with the same name as that loudmouth ugly prick Gene Shalit be?
As long as the IDF was beating up on Hamas down in Gaza, it could hide its weakness most of the time. Not all of the time -- pretty sloppy, letting Hamas commandos tunnel right into that base, blast a tank and kidnap poor baby Shalit right while he was thinking up his next capsule review. Still, except for the occasional slip, the IDF was safe in its F-16s and Merkavas, facing Pals with nothing but rifles and old RPGs. It's easy to look tough rolling through refugee camps in the world's most heavily armored tank.
But as you may recall, those tanks got a real different reception when they chased Hezbollah's raiding party back into Lebanon after the Hezzies killed three IDF soldiers and kidnapped another two. The IDF mid-ranking commanders had to act fast because the Gaza command was taking heat for not pursuing Shalit's kidnappers fast enough. So they shouted, "Charge!" and the first Merkava steamed over the border.
Guess how far it got. Ten meters. Ten goddamn meters. Then KABOOM! A Hezbollah mine or shaped charge turned it into a very expensive oven, with four crew killed. Another IDF soldier died trying to rescue them. So within a few minutes the IDF had lost eight men. As far as I know, Hezbollah's losses were zero.
It was a good plot twist: one minute the IDF is stomping around Gaza blasting amateurs, when something taps it on the shoulder, and there's Hezbollah, looking like Godzilla in a headscarf. Pretty funny moment, something almost Abbot & Costello about it.
No army enjoys getting invited to a second front just when it was starting to enjoy itself on the first one. Even the Wehrmacht rank and file was bummed when they heard they were getting shipped from the beaches of the Mediterranean to Russia. And the IDF was no happier when they realized they had to quit using Gaza as a speed bag to spar with an enemy that could kill eight IDF guys in a few seconds.
Casualties. That's the key here. Every war, every army has a different population base, different demographics, and a different take on casualties. Israel's biggest weakness has always been that it hates to take casualties. You can see that in their famous prisoner exchanges, giving away hundreds of Islamic prisoners to get back one IDF guy, or in one case just the bodies of a couple of dead IDF guys. You can see it in the design of the Merkava -- a brilliant design, one that gives infantry the full protection of MBT armor, but also an indication that this army is terrified its guys might get hurt.
Compare that to the Hezbollah attitude to death, which is basically extreme eagerness. Death? Hell yes, can I have seconds? The sooner the better!
Are demographics dragging the IDF down?
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