Ariel Beery
Dedicated to solving problems facing humanity with sustainable and scalable solutions

We’ve been fighting the wrong war

A handout picture provided by the office of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei shows him meeting with politicians and government officials in Tehran on April 3, 2024. (KHAMENEI.IR / AFP)

Why the land war was a trap laid by Iran, and how we can get out of it

Since October 7, Israel has engaged in a multi-front military confrontation with armed forces who, even in their wildest dreams, could never actually existentially threaten Israel. They simply do not have enough forces. They can murder us in the thousands. They can target our critical infrastructure and make life extremely difficult. They can inflict mass trauma. But there is no scenario in which the nearly ten million Israelis raise the white flag to Hamas or Hezbollah, and Iran surely knows it. Which is why these conventional wars have been a trap.

As the legendary Chinese military strategist and philosopher Sun Tzu taught, “The rule is, not to besiege walled cities if it can possibly be avoided.” As an island economy, no matter how impenetrable our fortress walls, our supply lines are our main source of weakness. If undermining Israel’s international standing and isolating Israel from international trade wasn’t the initial goal of Iran’s proxies, it certainly became their emergent strategy. By sponsoring a few extremist groups with a death wish, the Iranians have laid bare our points of weakness, and then worked methodically to cut us off from the resources we need to survive. At this point we need to admit that they are winning.

It’s time to break out of this trap and fight the right war.

For Israel to survive we need to win the war against Iran and its allies on the battlefield of global public opinion. Victory on this battlefield – not Rafah, not Beirut – will determine Israel’s fate. We can and should continue to physically target our enemies whenever the appropriate opportunity presents itself. We can and should continue to field forces to preempt strikes and defend our borders. But if we continue to behave as if victory will only be won through conventional war even our closest friends will not be able to convince their congresses and parliaments to send us the weapons and supplies we need to maintain our society under siege. Even the best military in the world will be unable to protect us without bullets and bombs.

Given that our Prime Minister seems unable to think strategically at this time, we need our civic and public professional leadership to integrate a global information battlefield priority into their strategies and tactics, immediately. That means a few practical things:

  1. Short term: secure our supply lines. The Ministry of Defense leadership, and especially the IDF, should agree on a new primary objective for plans and operations: unless an operation prevents immediate harm to Israelis, the goal should be the furtherance of Israel’s international position to strengthen our supply lines. Speaking from personal experience, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit is mainly reactive, tasked with explaining military decisions primarily to the Israeli public and only later to the international media. What we need now is for public diplomacy objectives to inform and in some cases determine strategy and tactics. This will require new cooperation between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office, and the Defense Ministry on the professional level.
  2. Medium term: take the fight to enemy territory. Public diplomacy campaigns conducted by Jewish organizations and activists need to switch from the defensive strategy we adapted after October 7 to an offensive against Iran and its Axis. Instead of explaining Israel’s pain we should be amplifying local resistance to Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Yemen from dissident groups who are being murdered and oppressed daily by these regimes. We need to take the fight for public opinion to them by supporting other minorities who seek self-determination and oppose Islamic Imperialism.
  3. Long term: transform the battlefield. We need a 50 year vision for how Israel becomes so valuable to humanity that it will be protected in the same way the West rushed to save Saudi oil fields. I believe we can achieve that by building Israel into the World’s Campus. There are surely other ways. We need to make a few grand strategic bets and start investing now, so that our children and grandchildren will be able to continue the fight to maintain Israel’s international support from a better starting position than we inherited on October 7.

It is not too late to win the war Iran started by financing, training, and arming Hamas and Hezbollah. To win our independence from Islamic imperialism. To win back support from our allies. Our enemies are, after all, religious extremists who stand against everything our allies hold dear: personal liberty, collective freedom. As the late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks reminds us, we have survived regimes seeking to destroy us from without and within, time after time, by adapting, by reframing our conception of the world and avoiding cognitive breakdown. This time, now, the call of the hour is to recognize that we have been fighting the wrong war. It is time to fight the right one and win back the hearts and minds we need to ensure Israel’s resilience.

About the Author
Ariel Beery is a strategist and institution builder dedicated to building a better future for Israel, the Jewish People, and humanity. His geopolitical writings - with deeper dives into the topics addressed in singular columns - can be found on his substack, A Lighthouse.
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