This is a letter which was published in a Pa. newspaper and was sent to me by a local friend and former resident near Allentown. (See 1 below.)
Elliot Chodoff was the initial speaker in the inaugural Speaker Series, I started and which began last night. Elliot is currently a visiting professor teaching two simultaneous courses at the University of Memphis. The meeting began at 7:30 and at 9:30 the audience of 162 were still asking questions. I decided to tell everyone that wanted to leave to do so and those who wanted to stay could regroup and Elliot would continue his conversation. About 50 remained and Elliot answered questions past 10 PM. To say the initial speech was a success would be an understatement.
Some highlights of Chodoff's comments:
The speech was devoted to answering the critics of the recent Lebanese War and in doing so he took his audience back to 1980 to give them some historical background of how South Lebanon and Hezballah's occupation came to evolve.
Elliot took exception to those who thought the war a total failure but acknowledged, from the git go, the idea of air warfare carrying the day would not work. When I picked him up at the airport before I gave him a quick tour of the city we stopped at The Mighty Eigth Airforce Museum and toured it for about an hour. Elliot noted later that evening that air war fare takes a back seat to land warfare and feet on the ground in terms of winning in a military sense and the former's impact has always been overstated.
In every instance where the IDF's ground forces engaged Hezballah the IDF was overwhelmingly victorious and the Hezballah casualty rate far exceeds what was reported and this is why Nasrallah is not yet able to bring down Siniora's government.
The problem was that a planned response developed in 2002 was not implemented and for this he blames both the Olmert government and eventually Halutz, an airman who ultimately was in control but had not operational experience.
Since the war an intense self-examination has been underway at the corps and small unit level and vast improvement should be expected but he still questions the competency of the most senior officership level.
In terms of the tank losses they were mainly caused by lack of funds for purchasing and training tank commanders in smoke warfare. Budget cuts cost the tank brigades canisters of smoke. Furthermore, the tanks failed to keep going making them harder to hit.
The IAF accomplished its objectives in terms of military targets and dealt Hezballah and Iran a serious weapons and cost set back but were not able to stop all the Kaytusha rockets. This the IDF ground forces could and should have been allowed to do and were not because of Olmert's fear of an increased casualty rate. Elliot, in an aside comment, pointed out Israelis are wiling to accept casualties if there is progress and victory but not one death if there is no progress and he made the same observation about our efforts in Iraq. He further stated, tragic as any death may be , we had suffered very light casualties in Iraq but because the public had concluded no progress was being achieved they have come to conclude even the low casualty rate as senseless.
In terms of the press, and most particularly CNN and the New York Times, he stated Eisenhower would have been discharged within less than a week of The Invasion had he been subjected to today's level of reporting.
In answer to questions from the audience Chodoff suggested we would be better to contain the fighting in Iraq by taking up a perimeter stance and let the Iraqis kill each other in the cities in a controlled way and use most of our forces to contain entry by foreigners into the country. It would cut down on the casualty rate for our forces as well as Iraqi forces and eventually the terrorists in the city would exhaust themselves.
In terms of the "civil war" evolving between Hamas and Fatah it too was to Israel's advantage not to get involved.
High tech has taken over the military but he remains low tech and thus explained the cost equivalency of being able to stop sophisticated missiles but the difficulty in stopping crude Qassam type rockets which, militarily, have little consequence but psychologically disrupt life and spread fear.
In terms of Iran he believes, and has written, that Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs are in control and that student upsurge is overblown in terms of its impact as well as the recent elections. Therefore, it is incumbent upon our nation to respond and stop Iran. Whether this will be the case remains the question. He explained the technical difficulty for Israel and thus stated that eventually if Israel perceived Iran was going to carry out its existential threat Israel should make clear they would take offensive action of a nuclear nature. Deterrence, in the case of Israel's small and concentrated size, is not effective because Israel could not survive both a nuclear attack nor probably be able to respond subsequent to one.
The US has the force capability to level Iran's military, air force, communication infrastructure, nuclear facilities as well as their oil facilities because we have the sustained ability to continue pummeling them for whatever time it takes whereas Israel, though its planes can hit Tehran and return, does not have the manpower to maintain a sustained attacks. In the recent Lebanese War Chodoff pointed out that after four concentrated bombings on Nasrallah's concrete hiding place, though Nasrallah was trapped and could not leave for days, he was not killed. It takes repeated bombings to destroy embedded facilities. Furthermore, Israel would have to traverse Jordan and Iraq air space and the element of surprise would have thus been neutralized. The US can launch from bases surrounding Iran and from off shore carriers etc. We are notr constrained.
In terms of Iraq, though he would not get into a discussion of domestic politics, he pointed our that our involvement in Iraq was not causing an increase in terrorists but should be viewed more as a magnet that was drawing them there and that was a positive and we should recognize and accept that as fact. That said, he did not believe we quite understood the factional nature of Arab society and that Iraq was, at best, only a series of states within a nation and we did not fully comprehend the mentality of various loyalty levels.
In a personal conversation with Elliot he does believe, should GW decide to attack Iraq, that it is within the realm of reasonable expectation we would be joined by Germany, Britain and even France. He and I concur on many things and most particularly that, at some point, the French are going to have it up to their wine sotted brain and will lash back at the growing Muslim population and in a very typically French way, read that to mean - extremely harsh. The French Foreign Legion were never pussy cats.
Chodoff also believes should GW make the decision to attack Iran he might well do it late enough in his term in office so the political implications and fall out will be truncated.
We live in dangerous times. Both Elliot and myself believe the foundation for WW 3 is being laid and history, sadly enough, repeats itself with extreme consistency and we have learned nothing from it.
(Elliot Chodoff is a Maj. in the IDF Reserves. Has a BA and BS degree from SUNNY, a Masters in Sociology from The Univ. of Chicago, is completing his doctoral work for his PHD, is a small weapons and small unit tactical expert. He is married, has four children and lives in the Gallilee.)
1) The Morning Call, Allentown, PA (a Chicago Tribune newspaper)
Logic says we must stay, fight and win in Iraq
Plato wrote, ''Only the dead have seen the end of war,'' and in the 2,400
years since, many people have seen his prophecy fulfilled. Human nature is
the cause, of course, and as long as evil people try to force their will on
others, others will fight back, and that's the short explanation of why
there is war. The only way to avoid war is to let evil men have whatever
Which brings us to the current war against Islamist terrorists across the
globe, and to the battle of Iraq. What is our objective in Iraq? President
Bush has stated our objective loudly and clearly on numerous occasions: to
help the Iraqi people build a democracy that can sustain and defend itself.
That is proving a difficult task, because terrorists want to rule by the
sword, and will kill anyone to achieve their goal.
Why do most Americans want to pull out of Iraq? Is it because of U.S.
casualties? Is it the economic cost? The mission was/or is wrong? We
want the rest of the world to like us? I believe that it's a combination of
these, which are based on emotion, rather than logic. Let's examine them
First, our forces are all volunteers who are there because they believe in
the mission, and our losses have been very low. If we are really concerned
about saving innocent lives, we should ban drinking and driving. That alone
would save almost 20,000 lives, 80,000 injuries, and $50 billion per year!
Second, the economic cost has been very low, especially because most of the
money flows directly or indirectly into the U.S. economy, which has absorbed
the war cost without a blink. (We spend more on Medicaid, free health
insurance for ''the poor'' than on the entire national defense budget.)
Third, the mission is essential to stopping the growth of Islamist
dictatorships whose leaders promise death to America. The mission has been
obscured by the anti-war drumbeat focused on weapons of mass destruction in
Iraq, false accusations of lying and spying and torture, and other issues
to inflame anti-war passions. But, the mission trumps everything.
Fourth, world opinion does not matter at all, unless the world stops buying
from us, and it certainly won't do that. They may envy us and dislike us,
but they need us. Actually, most of the world today is free because of the
United States. Our constitution, written when there were no free people
anywhere on earth, has been the guiding light for others so that today most
humans live in some degree of freedom, many with great individual freedom
The framers of our Constitution were wise and gifted men who recognized that
the future would include war. They also knew that wars cannot be won by
committees. Thus, they did not provide for the Congress to command our armed
forces, or for the Congress to decide on strategy and tactics. Article I
Section 1 of the Constitution grants all legislative powers to the Congress,
but no executive powers. That power belongs to the president alone under
Article II Section 2.
Now we have a self-annointed committee of 535 senators and congressmen
attempting to exercise non-existent oversight rights over the
commander-in-chief of the armed forces in time of war. Worse yet, they are
publicly damning the president, his staff, and his generals, claiming
superior knowledge and ability.
Such criticism is appropriate and even helpful if done in private, but not
in full view of the whole world, and in full view of the enemy. Such
behavior by the Congress provides encouragement for the enemy, who see us
as cowardly, and divided. The enemy think that if they can hang on, we will
cut and run.
The Senate Armed Services Committee hearings this week were the most
outrageous I have ever seen. Several Democratic and Republican senators are
using their committee positions to broadcast the most egregious bombast to
the world, criticizing everything we're doing to win this war. Worse yet,
they are doing this for their own personal political ambitions. So, in the
midst of a war, our new commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, has to sit
before the Senators and explain what he intends to do.
Finally, consider this: If we win the battle of Iraq, the anti-war
politicians will likely be crushed at the polls in 2008. Thus, they want us
John F. Brinson of Weisenberg Township is chairman of the Lehigh Valley Tax
Limitation Committee and producer of ''Pennsylvania Crossfire,'' which
appears weekly on local cable TV.
''Most of the world today is free because of the United States.''