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Generally, through conventional military actions, modern States sometimes develop certain dynamics that leave them vulnerable to weaker forces. States that have been successful in a military conflict on several occasions believe that military intervention can lead to supremacy over others. This is why powerful countries generally believe that acts of aggression are ascended in military conflict. One of the examples of a superpower inflicting control through combat was during the Lebanon and Israel war in 1982. To understand this war and probable outcomes for Israel, Lebanon, and Syria and global trends, two theories of international relations have been used, the constructivist and neorealist points of view. Israel's constant military engagement in Lebanon lasted for 22 years.
This makes it an important case study to implore in-depth, the actions, and consequences that entailed the conflict between the States and lay out the objectives of Israel’s military conflict, and note whether it was able to achieve them all or partly. The net effect seems to be that the security situation encountering the state is alleviated. The doctrines of conventional militarist states, when reflecting on their experiences of previous swift and effective military prowess; tend to concentrate on agility, pace, knowledge, ammunition, and low casualties. When compared to quantity, the quality of heavily mechanized armaments and highly skilled troops tends to be highlighted. As former military triumphs are applauded, a tradition of victory emphasizes certainty in results that undermine the complex range of factors that enabled victory in prior conflicts. Traditional military powers are inclined to establish a stagnant concept of war that does not accommodate the opposition shift to exploit the vulnerabilities of the stronger states.
Since the 1970s, Lebanon has been a crucial player in the 'Arab – Israeli' conflict, owing to its geographical placement on the map. The 1982 War was planned as a short action and the war started due to the assassination attempt made by Palestinians of the Israeli ambassador in London alleged to be working for the PLO. Israel has faced problems within and outside its territory due to its critical geographic location. From a constructivist approach to international relations, Israel has always been an insecure nation in the Middle Eastern region, due to its Jewish population in a region with Muslims in the majority. Similarly, with the neorealist theory, it can be concluded that Israel needed to wage war on Lebanon to ensure sovereignty and increase power, which is the most important factor.
On 5 June 1982, Israel invaded Lebanon to tackle two independent rivals, Syria and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), and the strategy for targeting both differed, as political justifications differed. Israel aimed for the disintegration of the Palestinian Liberation Organization as a political and military power, the establishment of a 25-mile buffer zone, and the elimination of all the Palestinian and Syrian armed forces from Lebanon. Israel's strongest unyielding rivalry had been with Syria and now, with the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, Syria had replaced Egypt as Israel’s main enemy and presented itself as a direct threat. Conversely, among all the Israeli neighbors, Lebanon had refrained since 1949 from engaging in armed conflict against it. Preserving this historically quiet frontier, now threatened by both Lebanon's growing Syrian and PLO positions, was a key strategic objective for Israel. It provided the perfect battleground for Israel to place itself in Lebanon and wage war against the other states. The Israeli objective for war on Syria and PLO can be better understood from the realist perspective, as it regards power as the most important factor in international relations. As Syria was challenging Israel’s power in the region, PLO was challenging Israel’s power from within its territory. Therefore, Israel had to fight the war in Lebanon to put an end to the power struggle to end the war at a stage in which Israel is supreme over both factors.
After April 1981 the war in the region further deepened as Syria militarised through surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) in Lebanon. This was a definitive and direct threat to the security, sovereignty, and general deterrence of Israel in the region. Moreover, the Israeli perception of the situation cannot be to accept the missiles and acknowledge Syrian involvement in Lebanon, as it can be considered a watershed moment in regional politics. Much more wearily from the Israeli viewpoint, Syria was conducting massive operations for arms procurement to facilitate the planned attack to be launched against Israel. He further states that Syria planned on beginning operations as early as 1982 without the involvement of Egypt. Further, the presence of PLO along with Syrian missile shields would considerably add to the hazards to the national security of Israel. These reasons forced Israel to obtain a stronger position to combat these threats being posed by Syria. The threat to territorial sovereignty is a major setback if the opposing party is armed with missiles, therefore from the realist perspective Israel had to combat Syria and PLO in Lebanon.
After three months of Syria’s missile procurement, in July 1981, PLO bombarded the northern border of Israel with over 1000 rockets and artillery over ten days. For the first time, PLO had posed a real military challenge to Israel and not just a terrorist one. Israel's perception of the Syrian and PLO threats was that they posed a significant shift in the regional environment and Israel’s response needed to be proportionate and immediate to maintain its national security. Israel’s actions in Lebanon were a clear response to attacks made by Syria and PLO, however Syrian combat operations and PLO rockets had stopped by the time Israel attacked Lebanon. Therefore, the explanation for Israel’s actual objective to attack Lebanon was to construct an environment of complete power and achieve these objectives through military prowess. Moreover, the ‘us’ against ‘them’ philosophy based on the constructivist perspective, added to the Israeli perception to act on the Syrian threats and go to war.
In 1983, Israel orchestrated a partial retreat but remained in occupation in the country, and then in 1985 it effectively retreated to a small "security zone" which was located near the border. Syria healed from the conflict and progressed in reaffirming its dominance over Lebanon by the year 1984, therefore pressuring Lebanon to revoke the peace treaty with Israel and to eventually terminate the Israel-Maronite coalition. At this time, there was another prevalent issue on the rise; which was the radicalization of the Shiites. This radicalization was happening partly in response to the invasion, and it helped in establishing Hezbollah which later played an important role in driving the Israeli forces away. Both these instances played well to influence the Israelis in adopting the constructivist perspective in the case of Jews and Muslims and waging war in Lebanon. The presence of Hezbollah was a threat to Jewish identity wittorminate the Jewish-Christian truce present in the form of the Israel-Maronite partnership.
Lebanon progressively through the years became a comparatively "secure" battleground in which the warring parties were able to attain their ambitions without the unnecessary risk of wider retaliations. Syria was attracted to Lebanon's minimal-level insurgency because of the opportunity to pressurize Israel into compromising Golan, or at least to force Israel to pay invasion, without affecting Syria in a major way. Moreover, Lebanon had presented Iran with a rare chance to engage Israel with military force right at its border, again sparing bloodshed in Iran itself. Hezbollah wanted to use Lebanon to bring increased bloodshed to Israel, both for its purposes and as an affiliate of Syria and Iran. Most importantly, Israel also wanted to avoid a major escalation in Lebanon since it was concerned about its other challenges concerning Syria and PLO and preferred the Golan power structure compared to all other options. In practical terms, Israel also accepted the low-intensity status of the conflict in Lebanon towards other states and wanted to use it to its advantage. However, by the year 2000, the risk was intolerable and active ways were pursued by Israel to try new ways of tackling its security concerns in the north and resorted to leaving the country due to those reasons. Israel thus was forced to leave the country without actually achieving any objectives it had. During the period of war, Israel could not determine the solution to resolve the conflict once and for all; even its troop withdrawal in the year 2000 left crucial strategic problems unfinished.
Throughout the invasion, the objectives of Israel kept fluctuating. The preliminary objective for Israel to wage war against PLO by placing itself in Lebanon was to protect its national security; however, it became obvious gradually that the Israeli agenda was not contained to that single ambition. Israel expanded its goal to destabilize PLO politically and through war, cause the PLO military infrastructure to collapse. The main obstacle for Israel was that there was no precision or clear strategy formulated to achieve any goals by the military. Moreover, since the war spanned out for over 22 years, there was a constant shift in the paradigm of the political environment of the States. Israel kept spending its resources for over two decades to prevail as the triumphant State and hold a strategic upper hand above the other State, which Israel was in a conflict with. Along with the financial restrains Israel had to face another challenge which was through media. The Lebanese media manipulated the public opinion by overstating the number of casualties and did not provide a proper analysis of the destruction by the Israeli military. This harmed Israel by painting it as an unreasonable brutal force furthering its agenda at the cost of innocent lives, in national and international view. Another, factor that aided in Israel’s failure was the internal differences regarding the expansion of the objectives that were initially formed. The opposition government heavily criticized the extended objectives in light of the overbearing financial and humanitarian costs. These reasons failed for Israel to successfully invade Lebanon through military combat and were resorted to leaving the country's arms in its hands.
According to a study, Israeli perception of technological advancement in military efforts to assert power was the key element to Israel's moral economy of aggression along with a falsely held view that Lebanon was uncivilized and based on an Oriental model of the Wild West. However, Israel struggled to devise an effective strategy for over three decades to tackle the unique challenges presented by long-range armed irregular forces. This became the main reason for Israel to flee in the end without reaching any conclusion. The essence of this dispute from both a military and a political viewpoint suggests that perhaps the Israelis could have taken care to establish unambiguous and militarily reducible political objectives.
As a general rule, effective decision-making procedures will translate to correct policy outcomes, but that is not always the truth. The particular situations, gut instinct, and good fortune all play a part in enabling or subverting even the best processes. A study concluded that the outcomes of the Israel war could have been different if Israel had employed better strategies. Israel failed to foresee overwhelming influences caused due to external environmental factors and domestic forces. Furthermore, "better" processes are subjective, and the outcomes can differ in every situation. The next conflict can have crucial implications for Israel and will illustrate whether it can finally accomplish and attain the goals that it had attributed to the Lebanon war.
In conclusion, Israel failed to meet any of the objectives that it had pursued through the war with Lebanon. From realist theory, Israel did not gain more power than the power it originally have, therefore it failed. On the other hand, in terms of the constructivist approach, the Israeli and Lebanese, Syrian, and Palestinian populations still have the ‘Us VS Them’ philosophy, which means the war failed to change any social construct. Moreover, the failure of Israel presents an opportunity for any state to learn from the strategic mistakes made by the state during its military conflict in Lebanon. The next situation can look radically different from its forerunners, only when specific and achievable aims are set, along with thorough planning and connection of actions with required results. The results of the Israeli invasion impose additional pressures on the national leadership of all states in many aspects, both military and political, to find a viable balance between political gains and conventional warfare, and ensure that the ends of the one are both equal and reducible to the means of the other.
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