Hudson Institute

Destroy Hezbollah

In the fractured state of Lebanon, Hezbollah wields the largest club

President, Yorktown Institute
Hezbollah fighters salute during funeral for comrades killed in Syria, November 8, 2017 (MAHMOUD ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Hezbollah fighters salute during funeral for comrades killed in Syria, November 8, 2017 (MAHMOUD ZAYYAT/AFP/Getty Images)

This piece was co-authored by Harry Halem, an undergraduate at the University of St Andrews reading International Relations and Philosophy.

I. Strategy, Geopolitics, and Ideology - Israel and Hezbollah

Early in November, Lebanon’s Sunni prime minister Saad Hariri, while on a visit to Saudi Arabia, resigned. He said that his life was in danger from the terrorist group, Hezbollah, to which the people and government of Lebanon are enthralled. Since then, the picture has only become murkier. However, what’s clear remains what’s been clear for years: in the fractured state of Lebanon, Hezbollah wields the largest club. The crisis that Hariri’s resignation precipitated is another step toward war.

Since this past March, reports have emerged that Iran is constructing advanced missile factories in Lebanon to supply Hezbollah, its proxy terrorist organization. Israel, Hezbollah’s primary adversary, last struck the organization in force during the 2006 Lebanon War, in an unsuccessful attempt to erode the Lebanese government’s support for Hezbollah and neutralize the terrorist group as a military threat.

Since then, Israel and Hezbollah have abided by a tense, semi-formal truce. The IDF refrains from directly striking Hezbollah in Lebanon as long as Hezbollah does not bombard Israel with its rocket arsenal, or kidnap IDF soldiers. Hezbollah has turned eastward since 2011, deploying its military forces in support of the Assad regime in Syria. As such, its attention, and the attention of its Iranian benefactor, has been directed away from Israel. Nevertheless, Iran has continued to attempt to build up Hezbollah’s missile stockpile, utilizing new routes through Iraq and Syria enabled by its growing ability to project power and Middle Eastern instability. In response, Israel has engaged in a sustained interdiction campaign, attacking Iranian-Hezbollah arms convoys in Syria.

A new war with Hezbollah is likely. ISIS as a ground force will be eliminated by the end of 2017, while the rest of the non-Kurdish Syrian opposition will be nullified as a threat to the Assad regime not long afterwards. As for the Kurds, Assad lacks the manpower to bring them to heel. Moreover, an attempt to regain control over Syrian Kurds would necessitate a similar campaign against their brethren in Iraq - an effort Iran and Russia are unlikely to undertake, given the potential for direct conflict with the United States.

But the Syrian civil war’s conclusion does not end Iran’s geopolitical offensive. Just as before 2011, Israel remains Iran’s primary target. Some, such as British journalist John Bradley, have argued that Iran’s international actions have been purely reactive and defensive. They argue that facing the militarily powerful Israel, wealthy Sunni Arab states with large populations, and the United States, Iran has merely searched for ways to ensure its own security. Its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, along with its support for terror in and beyond the Middle East, are simply defensive. If Iran restricted its action to the Persian Gulf, such a view might be warranted. However, Iran’s attempt to exercise direct and indirect control over the Eastern Mediterranean - through its partnership with Russia - and the Gulf of Aden - through its partnership with and support of Yemeni militant groups - indicate different intentions.

Tehran has established a “Shia crescent” running from its borders through Iraq and Syria to Lebanon’s Mediterranean coastline. Iran seeks to remake the Middle East by ejecting America from the region, and replace American and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean with Russian control of the maritime space. Thus would the “Shia crescent” reach beyond Lebanon’s coast into the Mediterranean itself. By such means Iran’s leaders can hope to export Shia ideology at the same time that they re-assert ancient Persian imperial ambition.

The US is an obstacle to this goal. Its naval deployments, particularly in the Persian Gulf, threaten Iran’s control over the Strait of Hormuz’s oil flows, while its ground and air forces scattered throughout the region can counter Iran’s conventional and proxy forces. However, Iran’s regional rivals, Saudi Arabia and Israel, are of significant consequence in Iran’s strategic calculus, and likely demand more immediate action. America has been increasingly ambivalent, and recently incoherent, regarding Middle Eastern force commitments. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have had no such qualms - Gulf Cooperation Council countries fund anti-Assad militant groups in Syria, while deploying conventional military forces in Yemen against Iranian-backed Houthi tribesmen. Saudi Arabia and Iran pose mutual ideological threats to one another. Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabism sets it on a collision course with Iran’s Shia theocrats, much as the Safavids and Ottomans, and before them the Abbasids and Fatimids, were likely to collide.

Despite the military threat that the Saudi-led coalition poses to Iranian power, Israel represents a broader challenge, as has been proved repeatedly in wars its Arab neighbors initiated. Its intelligence services have taken on almost-mythical status, and for good reason - Iran’s difficulties in obtaining a nuclear weapon are in no small part due to Mossad’s sabotage efforts. Israel’s economy is the Middle East’s best. Although it does not have region’s largest economy, or its highest GDP per capita, Israel achieves a $300 billion GDP and a $34,000 GDP per capita without oil wealth. Israel possesses a regionally unrivalled human capital, which has translated into a world-class technological sector. Israel’s external links with the United States help ensure its qualitative military superiority. Finally, Israel has nuclear weapons, and an effective second-strike capability. Compared to the economically unstable, militarily ineffective Gulf Arabs, Israel is clearly the greater threat. In order to achieve regional domination, Iran must confront, and defeat, the Jewish State.

Hezbollah figures prominently into this strategy. Positioned on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, Hezbollah is the only force that Israel has faced that has extracted an operational and strategic stalemate from the IDF. The “Party of God” has been a major military and political force in Lebanon since its founding in the early 1980s. Since the Lebanese Civil War, it has replaced the PLO as the primary anti-Israel militant group in Lebanon, and has used its political wing to work its way into the Lebanese state.

Iran’s proxy cannot hope to invade Israel. Nor can it hope to challenge the IDF conventionally, as the PLO attempted to in 1982 to disastrous effect. Instead, it uses irregular light infantry to pin down the technologically sophisticated IDF in drawn-out urban battles, nullifying Israel’s advantages in artillery, armor, and airpower. Not only do these urban operations blunt Israel’s otherwise overwhelming offensive power, they also give Hezbollah the time to launch rocket salvos against civilian targets throughout Israel.

IDF intelligence estimates Hezbollah has an arsenal of over 150,000 rockets and missiles varying in range - in a future conflict, Hezbollah can be expected to fire an average of 1,000 rockets per day. Moreover, Hezbollah has been expanding its maritime capabilities, as demonstrated by the INS Hanit attack in 2006. Today, not only are Israeli warships threatened - Hezbollah can also threaten any Israeli offshore developments in the Leviathan Gas Fields, while harassing the 99% of Israel’s economic exports that are carried by sea.

Countering Hezbollah is clearly a top Israeli priority. Neutralizing the group would relieve pressure on Israel’s northern border, prevent further economically and psychologically damaging rocket attacks, and frustrate Iran’s designed for regional hegemony.

Hezbollah is also a threat to the United States. Iran views Israel and America as inseparably intertwined. Iran’s rulers frequently describe America as the “Great Satan,” terming Israel as its “Little Satan” counterpart. Iran’s regime is defined in opposition to Zionism and Western liberalism, a fact readily apparent in Ayatollah Khomeini’s book Islamic Government, the foundational text of Iran’s political system.

From its establishment onwards, the “Islamic Republic” has been in conflict with the United States. The 1979 hostage crisis may not have been instigated by the Islamic regime, but certainly received its support. Iran was behind the murder of 17 American diplomatic officials in the 1983 Embassy bombings, and 241 American peacekeepers in Lebanon in the Beirut barracks bombings that same year--a slaughter of U.S. Marines that remains unanswered one-third of a century later.

Iranian mines in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War threatened American and allied freedom of navigation and damaged an American warship. Iran killed 19 more US servicemen in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombings, an operation potentially authorized by Ayatollah Khameini. More recently, Iran provided direct support and training to Shia militant groups in Iraq from the US invasion onwards. Using the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), specifically its Quds Force special operation division, Iran transferred advanced IED production techniques to groups like the Mahdi Army, while also providing training and financial assistance to these organizations. Iranian-supported militias killed nearly 1,000 American servicemen in Iraq.

This death toll is the result of the geopolitical and ideological conflict between Iran and the United States. Iranian hegemonic aspirations challenge American power - the US’ carrier groups in the Persian Gulf along with troop commitments in the Middle East, financial and economic power, and links with Israel: all these stand in the way of Iran’s ambitions . So do U.S. relations with the Gulf’s Arab states. Iran’s mixture of regional ambition and radical fundamentalism, to say nothing of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, spells trouble in the Middle East and beyond for at least the foreseeable future.

Iran is an aggressive and active power; it does not sit on its hands waiting to respond to events that others initiate. It has used its proxies to foster and capitalize on instability in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, thus expanding its influence. Its nuclear program, if successful, will give it an umbrella under which to tighten its control over the Middle East. Iran is an ideological actor, but that has not precluded pragmatism in pursuing its broader goals. It bankrolls Hamas, the Sunni terror organization that rules the Gaza Strip, while it likely has links with the Taliban, an explicitly Sunni insurgent group. Iran has an ambiguous relationship with al-Qaeda, but one cannot describe the two parties as fully hostile, despite the clear ideological difference between the Shia regime and the Sunni Wahhabi terrorist organization.

Eliminating Hezbollah as a threat therefore is clearly within US interest. Iran would lose the ability to exert pressure on the Eastern Mediterranean, where Russian naval influence is growing, the air campaign against ISIS and the Syrian civil war continue, and increasing natural gas finds demand stability and peace if they are to be extracted. Destroying Hezbollah would shatter Iran’s most effective irregular tool.

Why, then, has Israel, or the United States, not destroyed the terrorist group? America’s decision can be explained by a lack of resources for direct action, along with the political backlash that would follow an American intervention in Lebanon, particularly after the Afghan and Iraq Wars. Moreover, the Obama Administration’s Middle Eastern policy rested upon accommodating Iran and pressuring Israel to conclude a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Pressuring Hezbollah was antithetical to Obama’s views and objectives.

Israel’s inaction, alternatively, can be attributed to political pressure. In previous confrontations, particularly in 2006, large-scale rocket fire was a decisive factor in ensuring Hezbollah’s success. Its salvos crippled the Israeli economy and undermined civilian morale. Moreover, the terror group’s urban warfare techniques and rudimentary launch techniques made the IDF powerless to stop rocket attacks, further increasing pressure on the Israeli government to conclude a ceasefire. Hezbollah’s strategy seeks rather to punish than to triumph. By bombarding Israel with rocket fire, terrorizing the civilian population, and forcing the IDF to engage in high-cost urban operations, it seeks to wear down Israel’s will to fight.

Israel’s conscript military is remarkable in its efficacy, leveraging the majority of Israeli society into a modern fighting force. However, conscription comes at a cost - casualties are apparent and resonant in Israeli society. By contrast, it is the exception for an American to have a close family member or friend in the military, and highly uncommon, even in this group, to have a direct connection to an individual killed in combat. Americans speak about sending their “sons and daughters” to war. But fewer than half a percent serve active duty, a proportion that tops out under 0.7% when reservists are included. Israelis actually send their sons and daughters into harm’s way, while Israeli men are eligible for reserve duty until their mid-40s (Israeli women in non-combat roles are exempt after having a child).

Because of universal service, Israeli society has been deeply affected by operating in Lebanon. The First Lebanon War was notorious for massacres. Israel was culpable in the 1982 Sabra and Shatila Massacre - the subsequent investigation and public backlash forced then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon to resign. Any protracted involvement in Lebanon, with its complicated nest of ethnic militias and proxy groups, risks a similar political reaction.

Combine this with the predictable international hostility toward Israel that rises up in times of conflict, and Israel’s aversion to using force is easier to understand. Even the often hawkish-sounding Netanyahu government has been extremely cautious in its use of force, relying on airstrikes and artillery fire (Pillar of Defense) and committing ground forces for only a short time (Protective Edge). This also includes the Netanyahu government’s noncommittal comments on Hezbollah’s missile advances, despite previous indications that advanced missile capabilities would be a red line for the Israelis.

II.Unmanned Systems and a new Theory of Victory

Israel’s theory of how best to gain victory over Hezbollah is questionable. The IDF’s overwhelming conventional superiority cannot ensure its victory in a contest with the terrorist group. Dahiya Doctrine, developed by current IDF Chief of General Staff Gadi Eisenkot, attempts to leverage this conventional supremacy in an asymmetric setting by attacking public infrastructure, rather than solely targeting insurgents. By inflicting punishment upon the host state and the terrorist organization, Israel--it is hoped--can force Lebanon to reject and isolate Hezbollah. This strategy has yet to prove successful. Rather than rejecting Hezbollah, the Lebanese government has grown even closer to the organization. Hezbollah’s cabinet ministers in the Lebanese government remain in their posts, and the Lebanese Armed Forces have threatened to fight alongside Hezbollah in another war with Israel. Additionally, destroying civilian infrastructure gives Hezbollah the opportunity to replace it after the conflict, enabling the organization to portray itself as a political movement, rather than an armed group.

American military planners failed to articulate a “theory of victory” in Vietnam that matched the facts on the ground, resulting in an ineffective, costly campaign that pitted an overwhelming conventional military against guerillas who slipped away when confronted by superior forces. The Viet Cong’s resilience damaged the US’ international position and spurred opposition to the war in the U.S.

Similarly, Israeli strategists and military leaders have yet to articulate a plausible theory of victory against Hezbollah. Israel’s objective in the next war should be to destroy Hezbollah as a military threat. However, it is clear that an overwhelming air and artillery offensive, followed by an armored thrust into Lebanon, will meet the same difficulties as other Israeli campaigns against Hezbollah have in the past. The Lebanese Armed Forces may challenge Israel conventionally, but IAF strike aircraft will quickly destroy Lebanese air defenses, while Israeli tanks will easily overpower their Lebanese armored counterparts. But Hezbollah, potentially with additional Lebanese ground forces, will engage in the same urban attrition campaign as it has in the past, while launching rocket salvos against northern Israel and beyond. Overwhelming force is not the path to Israeli victory.

In order to crush Hezbollah, Israel must be prepared to engage in a protracted ground campaign. As noted, political considerations have precluded this sort of operation. But unmanned systems can help enable the longer Israeli ground campaign required for a decisive victory over Hezbollah. In light of their shared strategic objectives, a US-Israeli partnership on unmanned doctrinal development would prove effective.

Global militaries have already begun to integrate unmanned systems into their operational doctrines beyond the low-intensity intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) roles that American and allied UAVs have conducted throughout the Global War on Terror. In Israel today, unmanned systems serve two broad purposes. First, they protect the individual soldier by providing ground units with enhanced tactical intelligence and awareness, delivering precision fire support, and entering situations extremely dangerous for a human. Second, they give Israeli commanders better location and response options against Hezbollah’s rocket attacks and hit-and-run operations.

Most important, integrating unmanned systems with Israeli ground units would protect the individual soldier. This would allow the long-term urban engagements that Israel must fight to defeat Hezbollah. Urban environments provide Hezbollah with many advantages. For example, by nullifying IDF maneuver forces and limiting the role of airstrikes, it can force Israeli infantry into close-range combat on nearly even terms. The value of Hezbollah’s approach has showed in every IDF urban engagement, particularly in Lebanon. In 2006, even elite units like the Paratroopers’ Brigade 101st Battalion and the Golani Brigade’s Egoz Battalion made little headway against Hezbollah fighters in urban areas. Unmanned systems can tip this balance.

Beginning at the fireteam level, small handheld drones can allow IDF soldiers to look around corners, through narrow streets, and in windows to identify enemy dispositions. The Black Hornet Nano, a half-ounce UAV employed by American, British, and Norwegian SOF in Afghanistan, exemplifies the UAV that could fill this role. Small enough to maneuver in hallways and through windows, and with a 20 minute flight time, a tool like the Black Hornet would give IDF units greatly increased battlefield situational awareness. British reconnaissance forces used the Black Hornet in Afghanistan to gather intelligence before combat operations, while the Black Hornet has also deployed with USMC special operations teams. The same logic applies to larger handheld drones, like the American RQ-11 Raven, which could be integrated at the squad level alongside miniature systems. Due to its cost, a super-miniature system like the Black Hornet would likely be restricted to Special Forces units, but Israel could use the already-produced, rotary-wing IAI Ghost in a similar role.

Unmanned systems would also widen Israeli ground forces offensive tactical options. Israeli soldiers could attach grenades or plastic explosives to a handheld, quad-copter UAV, fly it around an enemy position, and attack Hezbollah defenders from an unexpected angle prior to a conventional assault. Additionally, the IDF could use an Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) like the Russian Uran 9, to attack fortified urban positions without exposing IDF soldiers to enemy fire. Larger traditional UAVs also play a clear offensive role - the Predator and Reaper drones are the clearest examples of this. Teaming a Reaper-style UAV with each infantry company or platoon would enable ground units to direct their own fire support - an idea that is gaining traction in the US military. Not only can UAVs remain on station for longer than manned aircraft, they are also better suited for the exacting and precise demands of urban operations. Rather than calling in an IAF F-15, a fireteam could rely on an IAI Heron or other MALE, or tactical, UAV to deliver converted mortar rounds on enemy positions.

Second, UAVs would give Israel a more effective response mechanism to rocket attacks and Hezbollah’s hit-and-run tactics. Hezbollah is rumored to have acquired an SA-17 missile system from Assad’s arsenal. Nevertheless, the terrorist group would need a much larger-scale anti-air network to counter Israel’s air superiority - capabilities significantly beyond what the Lebanese Armed Forces can provide, and what Iran is willing and able to transfer to its proxy. Instead, Hezbollah relies on tactical maneuver and relocation. Hezbollah’s rockets are generally deployable in improvised positions, enabling its operatives to fire off a salvo and escape before an IDF response. Hezbollah has also used light ground vehicles and its light infantry to attack Israeli infantry and armor on Lebanon’s hilly southern border.

Although many of these attacks are repulsed without significant damage to the IDF, Israel has been unable to eliminate the perpetrators, who melt away into the countryside. UAVs offer operational benefits to the IDF in answering both threats. If Israel can blanket relevant operational areas with on-station UAVs, armed with light ordinance, it can provide a swifter and more deadly answer to Hezbollah’s attacks against Israeli targets. The IDF’s ability to minimize rocket attacks would address the Israeli public’s legitimate concerns and thus facilitate Israel’s long-term strategic objectives in Lebanon. In addition, constant UAV presence can help the IDF respond to escaping Hezbollah fighters who retreat north following their attacks. This would also help Israel demolish Hezbollah more quickly.

The operational and tactical benefits of unmanned systems for the IDF are palpable. Two additional points bear mention. First, Israel is uniquely suited to augmenting its armed forces by producing and integrating drones, particularly UAVs. IAI is at the forefront of military drone production today, ranging from the MALE Heron family of UAVs to IAI Harpy (optimized for SEAD missions) and the Bird-Eye and Ghost mini-UAVs. Israel already has the industrial base for large-scale UAV production. Thus force integration, not research nor manufacturing, is the main obstacle to a substantially increased operational employment of drones. Second, Hezbollah has used drones in the past, and considering the experience of irregular groups in Iraq and Syria, has likely increased drone use since 2006. Israel is not only able to harness unmanned technologies, but will be confronted with them regardless of its ability to integrate them.

There is little reason to expect that significant American military forces would participate in a campaign against Hezbollah. The current U.S. political environment makes military operations in the Middle East less likely, while the the ongoing North Korean crisis could prompt a large-scale resource shift to Asia, ironically fulfilling President Obama’s “pivot.” At most, US Special Forces already operating in Syria could be used to help Israel interdict Hezbollah convoys passing into and out of Lebanon.

This does not mean the United States should be passive in such a conflict. From a military perspective, the US’ presence in the Eastern Mediterranean is invaluable to ensuring Israel’s freedom of maneuver. A successful Israeli offensive will be more difficult if Russia exerts maritime pressure in response to Israel’s attack on Iran’s proxy. Deterrence, rather than direct confrontation, is the wisest course.

America has lacked a Mediterranean presence commensurate with our interests since the 1980s. Israel’s future confrontation with Hezbollah, and proxy war with Iran more broadly, is but another reason for the US to reestablish its ability to shape events in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Technological and doctrinal coordination between IDF and US ground forces would also be beneficial. American special operations forces have pioneered the use of drones in small-unit operations. By working with Israel directly to integrate unmanned systems into its ground forces, the US would not only multiply Israeli combat power, but also gain valuable lessons for its own integration of unmanned platforms. The US can also use its political capital to shield Israel from the predictable European government outcry that will follow an intervention in Lebanon, leveraging its veto on the UN Security Council to bar punitive measures against the Jewish State. By protecting Israel from external political pressure, the US can help ensure that Israel has the freedom of action to destroy Hezbollah.

III. Unmanned Systems, Political Will, and Future Conflicts
Israel and Hezbollah are headed for another confrontation, whether under Netanyahu’s leadership or afterwards. The Jewish State cannot ignore the threat of advanced missiles raining down upon its population centers, nor would it deny the strategic advantage such capabilities would provide Iran in its regional hegemonic ambitions. Moreover, Israel cannot settle for a small set of retaliatory strikes. In this war, victory for Israel will be defined as destroying Hezbollah. As Hezbollah’s victory condition is simply survival and operational efficacy, Israel must develop a strategy to eliminate, at least in the short-term, Hezbollah’s rocket and missile capabilities, rather than allow for a political solution to halt rocket-fire, as occurred in 2006.

Unmanned systems offer Israel a chance to conduct the necessary ground campaign to neutralize Hezbollah, and respond to its rocket attacks quickly enough to degrade its arsenal. Combined with American technological, developmental, and political support, Israel can finally conduct the campaign needed to eliminate Hezbollah as an immediate threat.

The conflict will have clear geopolitical implications. Removing Iran’s Mediterranean foothold would be a significant setback to its hegemonic strategy, despite Russia’s retention of its naval base in Syria. By eliminating its most formidable opponent, Israel can also reassert its position as the region’s strong horse, and deter potential enemies, while preserving its loose entente with the Gulf Arabs.

However, this conflict could also mark the beginning of a change in the relationship between warfare and politics in the modern era. If Israel can successfully defeat Hezbollah by using unmanned systems as operational and tactical multipliers, the conflict will point the way toward integrating unmanned platforms into all levels of warfare. This would be of immeasurably valuable to the U.S. whose progress toward integrating unmanned platforms into its battle force has been evolutionary where it ought to be revolutionary.

Moreover, the unmanned revolution could change the nature of political calculations. Understanding national power is a difficult task for policymakers and political academics. Miscalculation and mis-assessment are frequent. States underestimate new rivals, overestimate old threats, and are slow to change their perception of the international environment. Nevertheless, all reasonable constructions of national power involve an element of politics and perception. Without effective leadership and public resolve, a large military, robust defense-industrial base, and vibrant economy are merely ornaments.

Long wars with unclear, limited political objectives are difficult for governments to justify, particularly in democratic societies. Decreasing the body count has become a major consideration for political leaders. This is true in and outside of Israel. President George W. Bush’s counterinsurgency-based strategy to combat Islamism faced significant domestic opposition, not in the least because of the body count it generated. President Obama’s more limited counterterrorism approach, which relied upon special operations forces, airpower, and intelligence provoked significantly less visceral backlash - opposition to that element of his foreign policy was restricted to the antiwar left, libertarian movement, and paleoconservative right.

However, policymakers will continue to run up against the intractable realities of conflict. Airpower proponents promised to deliver grand political results without the cost that a ground force commitment would incur. Events have proved these predictions wrong in the high stakes Iraq, Afghan, and Libyan campaigns, and the decidedly more politically restrained intervention against ISIS. No substitutes exist for ground forces.

By reducing casualties, unmanned systems can enable larger-scale ground force commitments. As fully autonomous platforms become more prevalent on the battlefield, they will compound this phenomenon. Modernized societies in Europe, Asia, and North America have become increasingly divorced from the effects of conflict, despite the growth of terrorism in the past 15 years. Unmanned and autonomous systems will reinforce this trend, decreasing the casualties that modernized states experience in conflict, and changing the political calculations that leaders undertake by mitigating the most psychologically damaging effects of conflict, potentially making states less risk averse, and changing how leaders and observers can measure national power and the balance of forces.

Of course, the growing mechanization of warfare could enable the opposite trend. Increased interconnectivity through cloud computing will transform urban environments, but they also create vulnerabilities. Triggering blackouts and water shortages, disrupting domestic communications, and even shutting down traffic lights will become possible in future conflicts. Only time will yield the results of these consequences at the political, economic, and social levels.

Israel’s experience in the struggle against Hezbollah will be a litmus test for the effects such changes have on armed conflict. Its democratic political structure, conscript military, and host of immediate and long-term threats amplify its wartime experience. Its upcoming confrontations, particularly with Hezbollah, will offer clues about the future of warfare. Israel has been an innovator in agriculture, information technology, and medicine. It needs to call on the same advances in warfare to defend itself against an enemy dedicated to its destruction.