Martin van Creveld
|Alma mater||London School of Economics Hebrew University of Jerusalem|
|Fields||Military history Military theory|
Martin Levi van Creveld (Hebrew : מרטין ון קרפלד; born 5 March 1946) is an Israeli military historian and theorist.
Hebrew is a Northwest Semitic language native to Israel; the modern version of which is spoken by over 9 million people worldwide. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites and their ancestors, although the language was not referred to by the name Hebrew in the Tanakh. The earliest examples of written Paleo-Hebrew date from the 10th century BCE. Hebrew belongs to the West Semitic branch of the Afroasiatic language family. Hebrew is the only living Canaanite language left, and the only truly successful example of a revived dead language.
Military history is a humanities discipline within the scope of general historical recording of armed conflict in the history of humanity, and its impact on the societies, cultures and economies thereof, as well as the resulting changes to local and international relationships.
Van Creveld was born in the Netherlands in the city of Rotterdam to a Jewish family. His parents, Leon and Margaret, were staunch Zionists who had managed to evade the Nazis during World War II.
The Netherlands, also commonly known as Holland, is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba— it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.
Rotterdam is the second-largest city and a municipality of the Netherlands. It is located in the province of South Holland, at the mouth of the Nieuwe Maas channel leading into the Rhine–Meuse–Scheldt delta at the North Sea. Its history goes back to 1270, when a dam was constructed in the Rotte, after which people settled around it for safety. In 1340, Rotterdam was granted city rights by the Count of Holland.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
In 1950, his family immigrated to Israel, and Creveld grew up in Ramat Gan. From 1964 to 1969, he studied history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and earned an MA. From 1969–71, he studied history at the London School of Economics and received a PhD.
Ramat Gan is a city in the Tel Aviv District of Israel, located east of Tel Aviv. It is home to one of the world's major diamond exchanges, and many high-tech industries.
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem is Israel's second oldest university, established in 1918, 30 years before the establishment of the State of Israel. The Hebrew University has three campuses in Jerusalem and one in Rehovot. The world's largest Jewish studies library is located on its Edmond J. Safra Givat Ram campus.
A Master of Arts is a person who was admitted to a type of master's degree awarded by universities in many countries, and the degree is also named Master of Arts in colloquial speech. The degree is usually contrasted with the Master of Science. Those admitted to the degree typically study linguistics, history, communication studies, diplomacy, public administration, political science, or other subjects within the scope of the humanities and social sciences; however, different universities have different conventions and may also offer the degree for fields typically considered within the natural sciences and mathematics. The degree can be conferred in respect of completing courses and passing examinations, research, or a combination of the two.
Van Creveld's doctoral dissertation on Hitler's strategy in the Balkans during the early years of World War II was published as a book in 1973: "Hitler's Strategy, 1940-41. The Balkan Clue." After completing his PhD in 1971, van Creveld returned to Israel and began teaching at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He became a professor in 1988. In 2007, he retired from teaching at Hebrew University, and began teaching at Tel Aviv University's Security Studies Program.
Tel Aviv University (TAU) is a public research university in Tel Aviv, Israel. With over 30,000 students, the University is the largest in the country. Located in northwest Tel Aviv, the University is the center of teaching and research of the city, comprising 9 faculties, 17 teaching hospitals, 18 performing arts centers, 27 schools, 106 departments, 340 research centers, and 400 laboratories.
Van Creveld has been married twice and has three children. He lives in Mevaseret Zion.
Mevaseret Zion is a suburb of Jerusalem with the administrative status of a local council. Mevaseret Zion is composed of two distinct older townships, Maoz Zion and Mevaseret Yerushalayim, under the jurisdiction of one local council. The newer neighborhoods of Mevaseret Zion were not part of either settlement.
Van Creveld is the author of thirty-three books on military history, strategy, and other topics, of which Command in War (1985), Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton (1977, 2nd edition 2004), The Transformation of War (1991), The Sword and the Olive (1998) and The Rise and Decline of the State (1999) are among the best known. Van Creveld has lectured or taught at countless civilian and military institutes of higher learning all over the world.
Of particular significance is his 1991 book The Transformation of War (UK: On Future War), which was translated into French, German (New German edition in 2004), Russian, and Spanish. In this treatise of military theory, van Creveld develops what he calls the non-trinitarian theory of warfare, which he juxtaposes to the famous work by Clausewitz, On War .
Carl Philipp Gottfriedvon Clausewitz was a Prussian general and military theorist who stressed the "moral" and political aspects of war. His most notable work, Vom Kriege, was unfinished at his death. Clausewitz was a realist in many different senses and, while in some respects a romantic, also drew heavily on the rationalist ideas of the European Enlightenment.
Vom Kriege is a book on war and military strategy by Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831), written mostly after the Napoleonic wars, between 1816 and 1830, and published posthumously by his wife Marie von Brühl in 1832. It has been translated into English several times as On War. On War is actually an unfinished work; Clausewitz had set about revising his accumulated manuscripts in 1827, but did not live to finish the task. His wife edited his collected works and published them between 1832 and 1835. His 10-volume collected works contain most of his larger historical and theoretical writings, though not his shorter articles and papers or his extensive correspondence with important political, military, intellectual and cultural leaders in the Prussian state. On War is formed by the first three volumes and represents his theoretical explorations. It is one of the most important treatises on political-military analysis and strategy ever written, and remains both controversial and influential on strategic thinking.
Clausewitz's trinitarian model of war (a term of van Creveld's) distinguishes between the affairs of the population, the army, and the government.Van Creveld criticizes this philosophy as too narrow and state-focused, thus inapplicable to the study of those conflicts involving one or more non-state actors. Instead, he proposes five key issues of war:
Van Creveld notes that many of the wars fought after 1945 were low-intensity conflicts (LICs) which powerful states ended up losing. The book argues that we are seeing a decline of the nation-state, without a comparable decline in organized violence. Moreover, in his view, armies consistently train and equip to fight a conventional war, rather than the LICs they are likely to face. Consequently, it is imperative that nation states change the training of their armed forces and rethink their weapon procurement programs.
The book's significance is attested to by the fact that until the middle of 2008, it was included on the list of required reading for United States Army officers, and (with Sun Tzu and Clausewitz) the third non-American entry on the list.Van Creveld's Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton is now included on the list as well.
In a commander's quest for certainty in battlefield information, Van Creveld popularized "directed telescope" as a term to describe the use of specially selected and trusted officers as special agents or observers for the commander".
In addition to his books on military history, van Creveld has written several books on other issues. The most prominent of these is perhaps The Privileged Sex (2013). In the book, van Creveld argues feminist claims that women are systematically oppressed is largely a myth unsupported by any serious data, and that women tend to enjoy more social protections and privileges than do men.
In addition to writing on military history, van Creveld also comments, often pointedly, on contemporary societies and politics.
In a TV interview in 2002, he expressed doubts as to the ability of the Israeli army to defeat the Palestinians:
They [Israeli soldiers] are very brave people... they are idealists... they want to serve their country and they want to prove themselves. The problem is that you cannot prove yourself against someone who is much weaker than yourself. They are in a lose-lose situation. If you are strong and fighting the weak, then if you kill your opponent then you are a scoundrel... if you let him kill you, then you are an idiot. So here is a dilemma which others have suffered before us, and for which as far as I can see there is simply no escape. Now the Israeli army has not by any means been the worst of the lot. It has not done what for instance the Americans did in Vietnam... it did not use napalm, it did not kill millions of people. So everything is relative, but by definition, to return to what I said earlier, if you are strong and you are fighting the weak, then anything you do is criminal.
In a September 2003 interview in Elsevier, a Dutch weekly, on Israel and the dangers it faces from Iran, the Palestinians and world opinion van Creveld stated:
We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force…. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under.
In the 21 August 2004 edition of the International Herald Tribune van Creveld wrote, "Had the Iranians not tried to build nuclear weapons, they would be crazy."
In 2005, van Creveld made headlines when he said in an interview that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was "the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 BC[ sic ] sent his legions into Germany and lost them", a reference to the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. His analysis included harsh criticism of the Bush Administration, comparing the war to the Vietnam war. Moreover, he said that "Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial."
In 2007, van Creveld commented that
Iran is the real victor in Iraq, and the world must now learn to live with a nuclear Iran the way we learned to live with a nuclear Soviet Union and a nuclear China.... We Israelis have what it takes to deter an Iranian attack. We are in no danger at all of having an Iranian nuclear weapon dropped on us.... thanks to the Iranian threat, we are getting weapons from the U.S. and Germany.
Van Creveld viewed the Second Lebanon War as a strategic success for Israel and a Hezbollah defeat. He was also highly critical of the Winograd Commission's report for its failure to note the many successes brought about by Israel’s military campaign. He noted that Hezbollah "had the fight knocked out of it," lost hundreds of its members and that the organization was "thrown out of South Lebanon," replaced by "a fairly robust United Nations peacekeeping force." He also noted that as a result of the war, Israel is experiencing a level of calm on its Lebanon border not seen since the mid-1960s.More recently, in an article published in Infinity Journal in June 2011, titled "The Second Lebanon War: A Reassessment", Martin van Creveld argued that contrary to the common view, and despite "clumsy, heavy-handed, and slow" ground operations, the Second Lebanon War was a great victory for Israel. He states that as a result of the war, "since the middle of August 2006, all over southern Lebanon hardly a shot has been fired."
In an opinion piece published in The Jewish Daily Forward in 2010, van Creveld argued that the West Bank, far from being vital to Israel's security, is a territory "that Israel can easily afford to give up." Van Creveld contended that the West Bank offers no defense against ballistic missiles from Israel's two chief enemies, Iran and Syria. Furthermore, provided that it would be demilitarized in any future peace settlement with the Palestinians, the West Bank would act as a natural barrier impeding the advance of any army endeavoring to invade Israel by land from the east. Lastly, Israel could defend itself against terrorism from the West Bank by means of a wall coupled with offensive campaigns the likes of Operation Cast Lead and the Second Lebanon War, which successfully restored Israel's deterrence factor when the level of terrorism exceeded what Israel was willing to tolerate.Stephen Kramer, Israel Correspondent for the Jewish Times of South Jersey, disputed the accuracy and relevance of figures cited by van Creveld in relation to Israel's GDP and arms exports. Kramer, who lives in the West Bank settlement of Alfei Menashe, also argued that the Israeli army plays a crucial role fighting terrorism in the West Bank, whereas its absence could precipitate a Hamas "takeover" similar to the one that occurred in the wake of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. [Hamas won the democratic Palestinian election of 2006]
In an article co-authored with Cambridge researcher of Middle Eastern history,Jason Pack, addressing the 2011 Libyan civil war, van Creveld challenged the media's tendency to portray the circumstances in Libya as being largely equivalent to those that formed the backdrop to the overthrow of ben-Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt earlier in the year. "The remarkable spread of the 2011 Arab revolts across the face of North Africa causes many journalists to portray the current Libyan uprising as fueled by similar factors to those at play in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt. There are more differences than similarities." Van Creveld noted that Tunisia and Egypt "have been coherent nation-states for well over a century," while Libyan society is still pervasively tribalist. He also observed that whereas the armies of Tunisia and Egypt could mediate the transitions between the old regimes and the new, "Libya lacks a professional, non-tribal army" that could function in such a role. Van Creveld blamed Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi for squandering a crucial opportunity to restore order to the country and confidence – both domestic and international – in the Gaddafi regime.
Van Creveld has stated that the Israeli government has "vastly exaggerated the threat that a nuclear Iran poses to its security, as well as Israel's capacity to halt it."
In 2016, in a commentary for the German magazine Focus, Creveld advocated an alliance with the Assad regime. "If the West wants to win the war against the caliphate of terror, they cannot be picky about their allies". The regional conflict was not about a despot, but about a novel form of terrorism aiming at the dissolution of all state order and territorial boundaries in the whole region. Only the Alawite soldiers of the Assad regime were willing to die fighting the terrorists, whereas the European and American attempts to avoid bloodshed concentrating on air strikes, were useless against Guerrilla troops as history had shown. Losing the war against IS and Al Nusra would have incalculable consequences for the Middle East and for Europe. In comparison, Assad would appear as the "lesser devil".
As early as 2013, again in the magazine Focus, he regarded support for Assad as important to avoid the destabilization of the Middle East as a whole. Assad would continue the war only to prevent a still larger carnage, the annihilation of the 1.2 million Alawites. "Instead of complaining about humanitarian concerns and arguing about arms deliveries to the rebels, the West should join Russia and press for a negotiation solution. If necessary, the West should help the rebels and allow Assad to stay on his post: he is the only person who can hold the country together." Van Creveld quoted Bismarck: "Politics is the choice between the bad and the worse."In a lecture at the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Brandenburg he pleaded to follow a "pragmatic path" in Syria.
In 2011, looking back at Bashar's father, he analysed the strategy of Hafez Al-assad against the town of Hama in 1982, then center of the Muslim Brothers. Without this action, seen as extremely brutal and as a war crime by Creveld, Assad's regime would probably have been overthrown. Assad himself and many members of the Alawite community would have been killed. After Assad's removal, perhaps a stable regime would have been established by non-Alawite Muslims, or - the more likely variant in Martin van Creveld's view - there would have been no stable government at all. In this case, there would have been a war of everyone against everyone. Judging from the experience in neighboring Beirut, such a civil war could have cost hundreds of thousands of people. And, according to what happened in Lebanon and Afghanistan, Syria could have developed into a place teeming with international terrorists of every direction."
Hezbollah —also transliterated Hizbullah, Hizballah, etc.—is a Shi'a Islamist political party and militant group based in Lebanon. Hezbollah's paramilitary wing is the Jihad Council, and its political wing is Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc party in the Lebanese parliament. Since the death of Abbas al-Musawi in 1992, the group has been headed by Hassan Nasrallah, its Secretary-General. The group, along with its military wing is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, Canada, the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council,, the United Kingdom, Australia and the European Union.
The Syrian Arab Armed Forces are the military forces of the Syrian Arab Republic. They consist of the Syrian Arab Army, Syrian Arab Navy, Syrian Arab Air Force, Syrian Arab Air Defense Force, and several paramilitary forces, such as the National Defence Force. According to the Syrian constitution, the President of Syria is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
The 1948 Arab–Israeli War, or the First Arab–Israeli War, was fought between the newly declared State of Israel and a military coalition of Arab states over the control of former British Palestine, forming the second and final stage of the 1947–49 Palestine war.
Hafez al-Assad was a Syrian politician who served as President of Syria from 1971 to 2000. He was also Prime Minister from 1970 to 1971, as well as Regional Secretary of the Regional Command of the Syrian Regional Branch of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party and Secretary General of the National Command of the Ba'ath Party from 1970 to 2000.
Bashar Hafez al-Assad is a Syrian politician who has been the President of Syria since 17 July 2000. He is also commander-in-chief of the Syrian Armed Forces and Regional Secretary of the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party's branch in Syria. He is a son of Hafez al-Assad, who was President of Syria from 1971 to 2000.
The Alawis, also rendered as Alawites, are a sect of the Ghulat branch, primarily centred in Syria. The eponymously-named Alawites revere Ali, considered the first Imam of the Twelver school. The group is believed to have been founded by Ibn Nusayr during the 9th century and fully established as a religion. For this reason, Alawites are sometimes called Nusayris, though the term has come to be used as a pejorative in the modern era. Another name, "Ansari", is believed to be a mistransliteration of "Nusayri".
The South Lebanon Army or South Lebanese Army (SLA), also known as Lahad Army and De Facto Forces (DFF), was a Lebanese militia, dominated by Christians, during the Lebanese Civil War and its aftermath, until it was disbanded in the year 2000. It was originally named the Free Lebanon Army, which split from the Army of Free Lebanon. After 1979, the militia operated in southern Lebanon under the authority of Saad Haddad's Government of Free Lebanon. It was supported by Israel, and became its primary ally in Lebanon during the 1985–2000 South Lebanon conflict to fight against Hezbollah. The United Nations did not want to give them the status of a proper army so they were referred to by the UN as the De Facto Forces.
Rifaat Ali al-Assad is the younger brother of the former President of Syria, Hafez Assad and Jamil Assad, and the uncle of the incumbent President Bashar al-Assad. He is alleged by some sources to be the commanding officer responsible for the Hama massacre of 1982. Recently declassified material back his claims that his brother Hafez al-Assad was responsible, as do a number of commentators. Despite accusations, Rifaat has always denied culpability. He currently lives in France.
Mustafa Abdul Qadir Tlass was a Syrian senior military officer and politician who was Syria's minister of defense from 1972 to 2004. He was part of the four-member Regional Command during the Hafez Assad era.
The Special Night Squads (SNS) were a joint British-Jewish counter-insurgency unit, established by Captain Orde Wingate in Mandatory Palestine in 1938, during the 1936-1939 Arab revolt. The SNS basically comprised British infantry soldiers, together with some men drawn from the Jewish Supernumerary Police, and total unit strength was 100 by 1938. Wingate selected his men personally, among them Yigal Allon and Moshe Dayan, and trained them to form small mobile striking units. Wingate also collaborated with the Jewish paramilitary formation, the Haganah, reinforcing his unit with some of Haganah's Fosh commandos. Given British opposition to the formal creation of Jewish military units, it is not clear to what degree the authorities were aware of the exact details of Wingate's operations in this regard.
Arab League–Iran relations refer to political, economic and cultural relations between the mostly Shia Muslim and the ethnically Aryan (Iranic) country of Iran and the mostly Sunni and Arab organization Arab League.
The Samson Option is the name that some military analysts and authors have given to Israel's deterrence strategy of massive retaliation with nuclear weapons as a "last resort" against a country whose military has invaded and/or destroyed much of Israel. Commentators also have employed the term to refer to situations where non-nuclear, non-Israeli actors, have threatened conventional weapons retaliation, such as Yasser Arafat and Hezbollah.
Israel–Syria relations refers to bilateral ties between Israel and Syria. The two countries have since the establishment of the State of Israel been in a state of war. The countries have fought three major wars, which are the 1948 Arab Israeli War in 1948, the Six-Day War in 1967, and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, later also being involved in the Lebanese Civil War and the 1982 Lebanon War, as well as the War of Attrition. At other times armistice arrangements have been in place. Efforts have been made from time to time to achieve peace between the neighbouring states, without success.
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The Lebanese Resistance Regiments, also designated Lebanese Resistance Battalions, Lebanese Resistance Detachments, Lebanese Resistance Legions and Battalions de la Resistance Libanaise (BRL) or Légions de la Resistance Libanaise (LRL) in French, but simply known by its Arabic acronym أَمَل ʾAmal which means "Hope", were the military wing of the Movement of the Dispossessed or Movement of the Deprived, a political organization representing the Muslim Shia community of Lebanon. The movement's political wing was officially founded in February 1973 from a previous organization bearing the same name and its military wing was formed in January 1975. The Amal militia was a major player in the Lebanese Civil War from 1975 to 1991. The militia has now been disarmed, though the movement itself, now known as the Amal Movement, is a notable Shia political party in Lebanon.
Syria and Iran are strategic allies. Syria is usually called Iran's "closest ally", with ideological conflict between the Arab nationalism ideology of Syria's secular ruling Ba'ath Party and the Islamic Republic of Iran's pan-Islamist policy notwithstanding. Iran and Syria have had a strategic alliance ever since the Iran–Iraq War, when Syria sided with non-Arab Iran against its fellow Baath-ruled neighbor but enemy Iraq was isolated by some Arab countries. The two countries shared a common animosity towards then Iraqi president Saddam Hussein and coordination against the United States and Israel. Syria cooperates with Iran in sending arms to Palestinian groups and Hezbollah in Lebanon, since Israel has attacked Syria. During the Syrian Civil War Iran conducted, alongside Russia, "an extensive, expensive, and integrated effort to keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power." Iran, Syria, Iraq, and Russia also form an anti-terrorism alliance that has its headquarters in Baghdad. The United States and the United Kingdom have designated both nations of Iran and Syria as State Sponsors of Terrorism and listed under axis of evil, due to their alleged terrorist activities.
The Iran–Israel proxy conflict, or Iran–Israel proxy war and Iran–Israel Cold War, is the ongoing proxy war between Iran and Israel. The conflict is bound in the political struggle of Iranian leadership against Israel and its declared aim to destroy the Jewish state, with the counter aim of Israel to prevent nuclear weapons being acquired by the Iranian government and downgrading its allies and proxies such as the Lebanese Hezbollah party. Iranian forces are operating in Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad's government. The conflict gradually emerged from the declared hostility of post-revolutionary Islamic Republic of Iran towards Israel since 1979, into covert Iranian support of Hezbollah during the South Lebanon conflict (1985–2000) and essentially developed into a proxy regional conflict from 2005. With increasing Iranian involvement in Syria from 2011, the conflict had shifted from proxy warfare into direct confrontation by early 2018.
Hafez al-Assad served as the President of Syria from 1970 until his death in 2000. As of 2015, he is the longest-serving Syrian head of state. He was succeeded by his son, Bashar al-Assad.
...is what the military historian Martin van Creveld calls "a directed telescope": people in various parts of the chain [of command], and elsewhere, to give you instant information from the battlefield."
Arguably, the decisive event that forever modified the dynamics was a speech by Qaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, broadcast late on Feb. 21 on Libyan national TV. Mr. Islam might have rolled out new reforms, blamed the reactionary conservatives like Prime Minister Baghdadi al-Mahmudi for the situation in the country, and promised that he would use his weight with his father to stop the violence against the protesters. Instead, he played the Mubarak card – if you don’t stick with me, you'll get Islamism, separatism, Western intervention, and total chaos.