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Sunday, August 10, 2014

The best idea I've heard so far...

I have to admit that there don't seem to be many palatable options open to Israel in this classic asymmetric conflict in which we've been engaged (against our will).

We're like a big kid on the playground who has been attacked by a much smaller kid.  We only have two options open to us:

Option 1:  Beat the sh*t out of the little kid who has taken a swing at us (and be condemned for beating up a little kid).

Option 2: Turn the other cheek and let the kid bloody our nose, blacken our eyes and pretty much do whatever he wants (and be ridiculed for getting beaten up by a little kid).

So far we've been trying to walk a path somewhere between those two options; by trying to block as many punches and kicks as possible, while hitting back with enough force to try to injure the little kid just enough to get him to lose interest in continuing to hit and kick us for awhile.  

But this approach has sort of blown up in our faces, and has gotten us a double dose of condemnation:  On the one hand we are ridiculed for being a full fledged country at the mercy of a rogue terror organization AND on the other hand, we're berated for picking on a defenseless proto-state.

Enter Professor Yisroel Aumann, who received the Nobel prize for economics in 2005 for his work on conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis.  Professor Aumann has come up with a novel approach to dealing with what seems like an un-winnable conflict: Instead of hitting the opponent... step back and allow the opponent to hit himself.

His suggestion is as simple as it is brilliant:

In a recent lecture he suggested Israel design and build a fully automatic system that would fire a rocket back at Gaza immediately, whenever Gaza terrorists fired a missile at Israel.  Presumably, these missiles would be randomly or automatically aimed in a way that would inflict civilian casualties on the Arab side, just as Hamas seeks to cause civilian casualties on the Israeli side.

He stated that "The goal is truly that the system will be without any human involvement, no human control.  This is very important, because if there is control, they will tell us that we are criminals and murderers and cruel... However,  if there is no control of the system on the Israeli side, the responsibility for civilian deaths caused on the Arab side falls on the people who fired the missiles that set off the Israeli system".  [source]

Technically, this should not be a difficult system to design and implement.  In fact, all of the radar, command & control, computer and missile components already exist.  Someone just needs to give the order to combine them into a self-contained closed system that can be set up to operate autonomously like a house alarm that is armed when the home owner goes out.  

Obviously, it would have to be an order of magnitude more reliable than a house alarm so that it can't be accidentally triggered by anything except an incoming rocket or mortar from Gaza.

In my humble opinion, this is the best and only solution for dealing with asymmetrical threats such as Israel is currently facing from Gaza.  At least, until such time as the world decides to remove the financial incentive for these terror organizations to continue their belligerency.

Posted by David Bogner on August 10, 2014 | Permalink


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I`ve often wondered not about an automated system,but human control of missiles much like those of Hamas and others. I can see the logic of Prof Aumann`s plan,but would add that a higher ratio,say (5 to 1)would be better able to drive home the message.I also think they should be aimed at sites where missiles have been stored and fired from,with targets updated by computer.

Posted by: ED | Aug 10, 2014 10:27:24 AM

This is a totally loopy idea, and the analogy to a minefield only makes it worse (given that mines are considered reprehensible in most civilized countries).

This idea considers an automatic system as somehow psychologically disconnected from its developers and implementors, as though it were a force of nature.

I strongly doubt that the rest of the world would see it that way, let alone the Israeli developers of such a system, which puts you back at Option 1.

Posted by: Richie Sevrinsky | Aug 10, 2014 12:55:14 PM

Funny...I had the same idea yesterday afternoon. And I'm no Nobel Laureate!

Posted by: Alan B | Aug 10, 2014 1:46:18 PM

I love it. We can all set up beach chairs and watch the tennis match :)

Posted by: SaraK | Aug 10, 2014 2:59:19 PM

the world doesn't care it will still blame us and it won't eliminate the underlying leadership of Hamas and they don't are about the civilian losses.

Posted by: david | Aug 10, 2014 3:07:28 PM

It should just return fire from where it was initiated. No issues with that approach.

Posted by: AZ | Aug 10, 2014 3:25:49 PM

and the US Congress would randomly approve additional funding for missiles to reload and fire at Gaza. It is like a scene from Wedlock (1991) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HsdI3UBRJrM. One prison escapee automatically causes his own death and another random prisoner. Works great in a movie or in a theoretical Nobel hypothesis.

Posted by: Rob | Aug 10, 2014 3:33:07 PM

Maybe. But you'll probably still get dinged for beating up the little kid.


Posted by: derp | Aug 10, 2014 5:04:08 PM

Personally, I think the best idea would be something like the old stupid kiddy doggerel "I'm rubber you're glue" --- sort of the missile would be projected back to its place of origin. That way, it would destroy the missile launcher and there would be no human intervention -- the missile itself would trigger the system.

Posted by: Debbie | Aug 10, 2014 7:23:13 PM

The problems with the suggestion several of you have made about having the return missile target the source are: a) that kind of accuracy would make the system expensive because it would require a precision missile and tracking system.; and b) because the point is to have the system respond randomly to a random threat. Having lived through countless missile attacks here (several of which found me out in the open with nowhere to take shelter), I can tell you that one of the frightening aspects of the weapons is that they can't be aimed and are only supposed to go in an approximate range and direction. The world keeps telling us that we have the right to defend ourselves, but our response can;t be disproportionate. This is the very definition of proportionate! And we don't even have to do anything. The proportionate response is triggered by the attack.

Posted by: treppenwitz | Aug 10, 2014 7:38:26 PM

Hamas missiles are cheap and inaccurate.Israel should produce the same type of weapons. From the maps I`ve seen they have been stored and fired from certain general areas in the Strip,
usually in densely populated areas.The auto retaliation should target those general areas.As for the proportion,Hamas with UN help will magnify the number of missiles,so Israel might as well fire as many as they think are needed.

Posted by: ED | Aug 10, 2014 10:34:14 PM

From an economic standpoint, it makes complete sense. It could also work on the opposite side of the spectrum. You do something nice and peaceful for me and a random peaceful act of kindness happens on your side.

Posted by: dmpawley | Aug 11, 2014 1:05:04 PM

I had the same thought just a few days ago when a cousin of mine complained about Israel's unfair counter-attacks. He posted, among other things: "The US funded military power of Israel is no match for HAMAS, the elected government of occupied West Bank and Gaza."

My reply: "In other words, give the spoiled brat what he wants. Let him continue his daily barrage of rockets. After all, he's just a baby. And you, Israel, are a big boy!"

Posted by: Dina | Aug 11, 2014 9:31:56 PM

From a game-theory point of view, the idea has merit. But that makes a couple of assumptions, which don't appear to be true:
1) Hamas is interested in winning a military battle with Israel and cares about minimizing casualties among its own civilians,
2) The world would regard any damage as entirely caused by Hamas.

In reality, the world would not consider such as system to be the equivalent of a force of nature, which is the goal. Israel would still be blamed for any damage caused, since it would be Israel that designs and maintains such a system. And Hamas would then be able to control how much damage is done to Gaza civilians - which they want to *maximize*.

And system which hopes to deter Hamas aggression has to exact a penalty that they are not willing to pay. This is not such a system. For Hamas, this is a war to persuade a group of anti-Semites that Jews are behaving badly. This would just make it easier for them.

Now if there were an effective way automatically to move the Gaza fences in for each rocket fired...

Posted by: Russ | Aug 12, 2014 3:32:54 PM

I have one modification for this proposal: that the automated system, which we may call the "Stone Dome," be programmed to fire Katyushas and other fire-cracker class rockets haphazardly, as if from pickup trucks and makeshift palettes, often failing to detonate owing to a lack of maintenance/skill on the part of the assailants.

This would be probably one of the most difficult technological feats ever pulled off by the IDF -- like an actor pretending to be a bad actor.


Posted by: Wry Mouth | Oct 2, 2014 2:02:40 AM

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