Preparing for the Next War

Ever since the dawn of history, the sovereign has perceived it his main duty to protect and secure homeland and nation. This task has been a ruler’s most important responsibility during all the centuries of man’s sovereignty over population groups. Side by side with the sovereign’s responsibility to protect his citizens – a typically common mistake is that the leader or leadership applies the lessons of a previous war or wars when preparing for future wars. Unfortunately, usually the next war is different from previous wars, and applying past lessons is not necessarily a guarantee for solving present or future problems.

Since its creation, the State of Israel has faced various types of wars and conflicts, characterized by the fact that each war is essentially different from the next, with completely different emphases. The lessons learned from the Lebanon War gave rise to high-trajectory weapons, and “Iron Dome” deepened the use of tunnels as weapons, but the future war that is already being fought here today has no real answers so far, because our attitude to the next war borders on profound misunderstanding of the significance of this war.

In an era of enhanced media, of branding, of marketing and public relations – society is reluctant to understand the intense significance of the future war on public opinion. The public’s true power has been intensified by social networks and by government officials’ addiction (throughout the world) to feedback from the public regarding the next war. That is to say, in the past, leaders sought to dictate their opinions, but today they draw their opinion from the public. The war of tomorrow first determines the goals, and follows with the tools needed to accomplish those goals. High-trajectory weapons served as an answer to the fence, the tunnels serve as an answer to “Iron Dome”, and the enemy, due to its offensive approach, is busy preparing for the next war while utilizing lessons learned from this one.

Israel is coping with the challenges of future wars consequent upon its defensive perspective. Defense ministers in Arab countries are called Minister of War or Minister of the Army, whereas in Israel, the military is called the Israel Defense Forces, and the minister in charge is called the Defense Minister. The strategies of war of the countries and armies that plan their activities against Israel is not a defensive system, but always an offensive system aimed to damage, defeat, and crush the State of Israel. Our ability to cope does not exempt us from the need to prepare and plan offensive targets; not just in response to the dangers that lie in wait, but as deterrent and preemptive measures to prevent future dangers.

The next war aims to use the most important weapon in today’s international wars, namely the weapon of public opinion. Public opinion not only determines who is right and who is wrong in any conflict, but determines which war should be covered and which war can be ignored. Public opinion can accept 200,000 casualties in wars such as the war being waged in Syria, where neighboring countries are responsible not only for the outbreak of the war but also for the bloody killing fields. However, hundreds of thousands of dead citizens seem to be a fleeting episode in public opinion, whereas Israel’s struggle with an aggressive neighbor, which is a deadly threat to its citizens’ safety, has become a subject that fascinates public opinion on a daily basis.

Public opinion determines whether we are entitled to defend ourselves, whether a defensive action should be considered violent, whether fleeing terrorists are refugees, or whether two and a half million refugees in Syria are but a humanitarian phenomenon. Is murder for the sake of murder of Christians in Iraq an episode, or is bombing a mosque that harbors rockets and launching pads reprehensible?

The future war is about our possibility to defend ourselves, and about the right of others to set behavior standards according to their will or the voting power of proponents of one idea or another. The war for public opinion is about convincing which side has justice on its side, but to apply economic, physical, or even other types of force according to one’s ability to affect public opinion and to turn the war into something else, not only among decision makers but among entire populations.

In 1952, Gamal Abdul Nasser was elected to head the free officers in Egypt, and in 1954, he was elected by a 90% majority to as president of Egypt. That was the start of the race for leadership of the Arab world, and consequently – the Muslim world and the non-aligned nations, which are now the majority in the UN General Assembly. Since his death, many contenders have tried to conquer the coveted role of leader of the Islamic Empire that will leave its indelible mark on the 21st century.

Three main contenders stand at the finish line to conquer the leadership of the Arab and Muslim world and its global influence. Iran, backed by its economic potential and nuclear weapons, and by its threat to cut off the world’s principal energy source, saw itself as a candidate. Tayyip Erdoğan, prime minister of Turkey, a country that has reverted to Islam and represents the Muslim Brotherhood internationally, sees himself as a worthy candidate. Erdoğan has many followers all over Europe in communities that were established there decades ago, and which have revived with the revival of Islam and leaders such as Erdoğan. The third candidate is the Qatari Caliphate. Qatar feels that its economic power allows it to prepare better than any other country for the next military struggle, which is the struggle for global public opinion, and consequently has established Al Jazeera network – now heavily entwined in international media and news coverage, leaving its mark both directly and indirectly.

These three entities, struggling for hegemony of the Muslim world, are also competing for one of the great imperial roles of the 21st century – a role that is currently unoccupied by any world power. The fight for public opinion is not a minor issue in this war, but a first-rate strategic goal through which the next war will be fought.

The Muslim world has realized that the army that manages the next war must be in the field. This war cannot be won by remote control, and it must be dealt with physically everywhere. For the past 25 years at least, Islam’s strategic goal has been to establish organized communities throughout the world. Countries that had not heard of Islam were exposed to an organized funded group, with a methodical agenda, which proves that vast strategic thought and planning were invested to engineer political decisions in almost every country in the world. Venezuela was the first country to face this community, and with time, Paraguay was exposed to Hezbollah villages, which sent tentacles to Chiapas in Mexico, to Chile, Brazil, and other countries. Countries that had a friendly tradition to Israel and Judaism turned their backs on us because of these communities that were established in the dead of night, and revealed themselves after they were fully established. This human network was organized by Iran and by immigrant groups from various Muslim countries that support the idea of pan-Islamism.

Erdoğan, who in the past specialized in involvement in various communities in the world, utilized his expertise and was almost solely responsible for the bogus “spring” in Egypt and then in Libya, which for years was his partner and with which he had an investment and development affiliation to the sum of billions of dollars every year. In Syria, he incited the rebels and terror organizations against Assad, while maneuvering between both sides of the conflict and creating unprecedented chaos.

Above all, with wisdom and media skills, Qatar is waging its battle to influence population groups all over the world. Qatar, above the heads of leaders, reaches every household in the Arab world. It is also involved in the media in other languages such as English, Spanish and Portuguese, and is – one way or another – connected to all newspaper networks in the world. Most global media, primarily the written edition, is currently in a deep crisis. Therefore, a wealthy regional power such as Qatar can easily meddle between international communication networks that are desperately in need of hard cash to espouse its ideas. The Muslim world is firmly entrenched in all media outlets and determines their various agendas. It is, thus, no surprise that the issue of Christians in Iraq has hardly received any media coverage as opposed to other more attractive topics. In fact, these countries and their allies confront us with a difficult challenge, because the struggle over public opinion is being fought now, mainly influenced by one side, while the other parties do not even compete out of blindness to the danger that imminently threatens their identity, faith, and future behavior.

Actually, today’s contest is being determined more or less without a battle. The existing system that operates here or there, in a foreign affairs office or a propaganda office, does not deal with a global overview and strategic estimations. They do not include experts in building population centers, in constructing local public opinion, in forming local pressure groups that affect public opinion, in infiltrating the media and using groups such as academics, social networks and others. The school of terrorism that operated at the time of the Vietnam War taught terror organizations that victory against the enemy is not achieved in face-to-face combat, but indirectly. Undermining the enemy is not achieved where they have influence, but rather in remote locations that build up terrorism’s loci of influence, and eventually have the effect of overturning longstanding practices.

The next war has started and is advancing at full volume. The State of Israel and the free world have not prepared for it, do not deal with it, and do not know how to deal with the force and depth that were invested in this war. The Shahid war is a total war, a war that speaks of the willingness to die and the sanctity of death. This war is translated into all coping mechanisms and social immunization systems. All that is left to say at this point is “Wake up before it is too late”.

About the Author
Dr David Altman is senior vice-president at the Netanya Academic College and vice-chair of the college's Strategic Dialogue Center