When It Comes to Psychological Warfare, America and Its Allies Need to Catch Up to Their Enemies

Taking advantage of the changing nature of both media and warfare itself, writes Yaacov Falkov, major powers like Russia and China as well as guerrilla groups like the Taliban and al-Qaeda have grown astute at undermining the morale of their enemies. The failure to keep up with such strategies, according to Falkov, might amount to the U.S. military’s greatest weakness—one that can outweigh battlefield superiority. Moreover, he writes, American allies tend to suffer from the same liability, although Israel is working hard to remedy the situation:

Iran is fully aware of the strategic advantages of the ongoing information revolution in military affairs and is devoting growing attention, energy, and resources—as well as intellectual, organizational, and technical efforts—to improve its doctrines and capabilities in the sphere of information warfare. . . . The head of Iran’s National Security Council has recently picked up the habit of tweeting in Hebrew to gain Israeli attention. The influence tools at the Iranians’ disposal are numerous, ranging from the official media platforms, social networks, religious-cultural centers abroad, and unattributed cyberattacks, to covert, semi-covert, or overt violent actions—including terror, commando raids, and drone or missile strikes—performed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and/or its different regional partners.

Multiple violent non-state actors, including the Afghan Taliban, Islamic State, al-Qaeda, Hamas (which in recent rounds of fighting used social networks to sow fear in Israeli society), and, above all, Hizballah, have also fully entered the era of the information revolution in military affairs.

Since the 2006 Lebanon war, the Israel Defense Forces and the intelligence community have recognized the appearance of a new sphere of encounter, beyond that of classical [battlefield] combat—“the battle for consciousness” (ha-ma’aracha al ha-toda’a)—and understood its challenges and advantages. The IDF created a special function for “consciousness operations,” aimed at shaping opinions and attitudes toward Israel’s military actions among enemy forces, other Middle Eastern players, as well as Western and global audiences. Besides official warnings sent to Hamas, Hizballah, and Iran through the Israeli and regional non-Hebrew media channels, constant messaging is directed at the broader international community, including foreign civil and military leaders, diplomats, the press, and the greater public.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: Hizballah, IDF, Iran, Russia, Strategy, U.S. Security

Why President Biden Needs Prime Minister Netanyahu as Much as Netanyahu Needs Biden

Sept. 28 2023

Last Wednesday, Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu met for the first time since the former’s inauguration. Since then, Haim Katz, Israel’s tourism minister, became the first Israeli cabinet member to visit Saudi Arabia publicly, and Washington announced that it will include the Jewish state in its visa-waiver program. Richard Kemp, writing shortly after last week’s meeting, comments:

Finally, a full nine months into Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest government, President Joe Biden deigned to allow him into his presence. Historically, American presidents have invited newly installed Israeli prime ministers to the White House shortly after taking office. Even this meeting on Wednesday, however, was not in Washington but in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Such pointed lack of respect is not the way to treat one of America’s most valuable allies, and perhaps the staunchest of them all. It is all about petty political point-scoring and interfering in Israel’s internal democratic processes. But despite his short-sighted rebuke to the state of Israel and its prime minister, Biden actually needs at least as much from Netanyahu as Netanyahu needs from him. With the 2024 election looming, Biden is desperate for a foreign-policy success among a sea of abject failures.

In his meeting with Netanyahu, Biden no doubt played the Palestinian issue up as some kind of Saudi red line and the White House has probably been pushing [Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman] in that direction. But while the Saudis would no doubt want some kind of pro-forma undertaking by Israel for the sake of appearances, [a nuclear program and military support] are what they really want. The Saudis’ under-the-table backing for the original Abraham Accords in the face of stiff Palestinian rejection shows us where its priorities lie.

Israel remains alone in countering Iran’s nuclear threat, albeit with Saudi and other Arab countries cheering behind the scenes. This meeting won’t have changed that. We must hope, however, that Netanyahu has been able to persuade Biden of the electoral benefit to him of settling for a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia rather than holding out for the unobtainable jackpot of a two-state solution.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship