We left off last week with a brief discussion of how little Israel can actually do about the Iranian nuclear program. Persian nukes, however, are not Israel’s only or necessarily worst problem.
Into the sea?
Maybe the Arabs can’t drive the Jews into the sea. But then, why should they when émigrés these days usually leave by airplane?
I doubt that Hamas has quite latched on to the policy behind most of the anti-white insurgencies in sub-Saharan Africa. It was, in short, to make life sufficiently uncertain for the white ruling classes to not want to risk staying. They would then begin to leave, a mere trickle at first. As some left, though, many more were demoralized. Those many also tended to start thinking about leaving, and planning to leave if they had to. This led to still more demoralization, etc. Eventually even the most hard headed of the whites saw the writing on the walls and gave up power, perhaps hoping to get some small part of their patrimony back before it was confiscated by the new – one man, one vote, once – popularly elected Dictator for Life and his tribe or clan. Or perhaps the whites were simply engaged in wishful thinking. No matter, the end result was the same.
But Hamas1 and the other similar groups rarely if ever think that way. God – Allah – is the general. Their job is simply to fight; leaving strategy up to Him.
It doesn’t really matter all that much, though, if the end result is the same. Continuing pressure by Hamas and Hezbollah, a continuing threat, continuing Israeli mobilizations, which disrupt the economy, high taxation, the nagging thought every time a man looks at his young daughter that the next time he sees her she may be no more than a pile of obscene goo resembling nothing so much as so much strawberry jam…all those have encouraged some Israelis to flee already. Deep down, I am sure many of them, maybe even most, think about it sometimes.
In the long run, faced with that, eventually the day comes when too many want to flee and too many have. That is death for Israel.
And then the Turks…
Turks are such courageous and virtuous people. That is why you can kill a Turk but you can never defeat them.
~ Napoleon Bonaparte
Of course the Turks have been defeated; Lepanto, Vienna, the Great War. But they don’t give up easy, they don’t go down easy, and they die damned hard. Also, they tend to bounce back.
The Turks and the Israelis used to be very chummy. Two things, I think, happened. One was a rising sense of their Muslimhood among more rural and conservative Turks, who simply beat their citified rivals in the fertility stakes, leading (with a healthy assist from some other factors, especially corruption) to the election of Erdogan’s party and then Erdogan.2
The second was Israeli inability to present their legitimate case for the blockade of Gaza. There’s not much to criticize there, and certainly not from me, that case and the blockade are legitimate, but one can rarely if ever reason someone out of something they weren’t reasoned into in the first place.
One can hope, and I am sure the Israelis do hope, that Erdogan will someday disappear. They can’t, however, count on it and must plan for the worst. That worst is very bad indeed. Moreover, even though it depends upon the Turkish Deep State3 and military4 coming to a meeting of the minds with the Islamists, it is perhaps the single biggest threat to the existence of Israel.
And remember, Israel and Iran used to be quite buddy-buddy, too.
The Turkish armed forces at full mobilization are about 60 percent bigger than Israel’s. They could be larger if the Turks wanted them to be larger. Their active armed forces are about three times larger than what Israel maintains and can afford to maintain.
Their navy badly outclasses Israel’s in terms of numbers of ships and tonnage. It’s also fairly modern. Though on the surface, it looks to me like Turkey could easily blockade Israel in the Mediterranean, in terms of naval power I am, at best, an interested amateur. Still, I think one can minimally and confidently say that Israel’s five submarines and 7,000 tons or so of surface combatants, consisting of three corvettes and eight missile boats, would probably not prove capable of overcoming Turkey’s 14 Type 209 subs, nor her 70,000 plus tons of warships, consisting of six frigates, eight corvettes, and 27 missile boats, sufficiently well to prevent the Turks from supplying themselves through, oh, say, Latakia or even points further south.
The air is a closer question, and, although the Turks have an air force almost as large, and almost as modern, it isn’t quite equal. The way to bet it is on Israel. However an Israeli victory in the air would take time, time which they may not have, and be very expensive.
Nor would I necessarily discount the possibility of a Turkish amphibious landing somewhere south of Haifa. They have the sealift, sufficient for the task, given the distances involved. They have the marines. They’ve got some experience. However tongue-in-cheekedly reticent I may have been, above, about what they can and can’t do with the Israeli Sea Corps, be serious; the Israeli fleet is mostly scrap if the Turks want it to be. In the interval between when the conjectural war starts, and the Israelis achieving air superiority, a whole lot of highly capable and combative Turks can come ashore. And, given that the area is highly built up, and that Israeli infantry is not especially good, the Turks would prove to be most difficult to get rid of.
On the ground the question is not close. The Turks are nails, sheer nails, and not your cheap iron stuff, either. They are well armed, well trained – trained from boyhood, as a matter of fact, as the best soldiers must be, taking in the military virtues with mother’s milk – well led, disciplined, confident, and gutsy as hell. They could, say, keep a force in Lebanon, supplied from Beirut, sufficient to stymie any Israeli incursion, and bleed it white. They could do so while shielding Hezbollah as it launched rockets at northern Israel. If they were really ambitious, they could do so while shielding Hamas as it launched rockets from Gaza, too. Worse, because they are a full time army, the Turks wouldn’t have to disrupt their economy much, as Israel would have to in order to meet them. The Israelis have never fought anything like that, and I think they know their hearts would break from the sheer loss before the Turkish Army did.
See above, under “Into the Sea,” to see what that kind of continuing threat, about which Israel could do essentially nothing, might mean.
1 There is, by the way, no destroying Hamas. If Israel could get its hands on every fighter in the organization and shoot or hang them, a new Hamas, possibly under a different name, would spring up overnight.
2 If you’ve ever wondered what a political ass-whipping looked like, this is it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_general_election,_2002#mediaviewer/File:2002_Turkish_general_election_english.svg
3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_state I have it on quite credible authority that the Deep State is not a figment of a conspiracy loon’s diseased mind.
4 The Turkish military is secular, republican and much more interested in Turkish hegemony in Central Asia than with the Levant beyond Kurdistan.
Don’t miss last week’s column: Israel’s Strategic Problem.
Tom Kratman is a retired infantry lieutenant colonel, recovering attorney, and science fiction and military fiction writer. His latest novel, The Rods and the Axe, is available from Amazon.com for $9.99 for the Kindle version, or $25 for the hardback. A political refugee and defector from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, he makes his home in Blacksburg, Virginia. He holds the non-exclusive military and foreign affairs portfolio for EveryJoe. Tom’s books can be ordered through baen.com.