In a fit of courage, Alpha
invades the territory of Beta. The deeper he penetrates, the less courageous
he becomes. He hesitates. Beta, on the other hand, becomes a hero. He
attacks Alpha, who escapes to his own territory. Beta crosses the border in
hot pursuit, but the further he gets in his rival's realm, the more his
courage evaporates. Now Alpha becomes heroic, attacking Beta and chasing him
back home. And so on and on.
This is a scientific
experiment, well known to students of ethology, the science of animal
behavior. The pattern seems to be common to all territorial animals, be they
mammals, fish or birds. It certainly is typical for the animal called man.
Our own history is full of
examples. The legend of David and Goliath is a typical example: the
Philistines invaded the territory of Israel, Goliath had absolute military
superiority, little David won. In another era, the Maccabees, a small
guerilla band, vanquished the mighty Greek-Syrian empire, elephants and all.
Human history knows
innumerable instances. One of the most remarkable happened in 1939: Stalin
attacked little Finland, hoping to subdue it within days. But the world
witnessed with awe how the Finnish forces trounced the giant Red Army, which
needed several months to gain the upper hand. Hitler was impressed, and
after a year he invaded the Soviet Union. But - lo and behold - the same Red
Army that was beaten in the snow of Finland smashed the invincible Nazi
Wehrmacht in the snows of its own homeland.
Lately this happened to
the Americans. The primitive Vietnamese chased the modern French
colonialists out of their country. Since nobody ever learns from the
experience of others, the Americans joined the fray, full of contempt for
the "little yellow bastards". But the big white supermen, who had the most
advanced weapons on earth, were soundly beaten. The last of them fled by
helicopter from the roof of their embassy in Saigon.
The same happened to the
Soviets in Afghanistan. Gangs of fanatical Muslims with black beards, clad
in rags, made piecemeal of the army that beat Hitler. The Soviets, too,
escaped with their tails between their legs.
What have little David and
the Vietnam fighters, Judah Maccabaeus and the Finnish Marshal Mannerheim,
the Partisans in the Russian birch forests and the gangs in the Afghan
mountains have in common? Only one thing: They fought for the liberation of
their homeland from foreign invaders. In such a struggle, superiority in
numbers and firepower counts for little.
The commanders of the
invading army cannot understand this. Rafael Eytan, Ariel Sharon and Shaul
Mofaz are but the latest addition to a long and undistinguished row of
generals who were ingloriously trashed by ill-equipped guerilla fighters.
The very word "guerrilla"
("little war") was born in Spain, when Napoleon's army did not succeed in
destroying local freedom fighters. This, perhaps, led Napoleon to assert
that "In war, moral considerations account for three-quarters, the balance
of actual forces only for the other quarter."
The Hisballah is a classic
guerrilla force. It is supported by foreign countries - Iran and Syria -
which exploit it for their own purposes. But basically it is an authentic
resistance movement, which came into being in order to fight a foreign
occupation (ours) and flourishes the longer the occupation goes on.
Occupation commanders are
unable to understand such a reality, and from this point of view there is
little difference between the Biblical "Lords of the Philistines" and Deputy
Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh. From the officers of Antiochus to General
Shaul Mofaz, all occupation commanders behave exactly the same: brag of
their victory every second week, promise the final liquidation of the
bandits every month, threaten every now and then to put fire to the
guerrillas' hinterland. But their fate is foreordained: In the end, they
will have to leave. See: Fish.
the Settlement Special]