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The Chief of Staff has ordered field commanders to cut down on training after April 1 because of alleged budget cuts. In fact, the army’s budget has been increased a bit.

But the conflict raises an important issue: do we really need that much training or weapons? The army has not engaged in meaningful combat since 1973. Anti-guerrilla operations in Lebanon and Gaza and police functions in the West Bank are of a completely different order. They do not require the kind of training now being conducted, or the massive army we now maintain.

Nor do we need new tanks, the purchase of which the Chief of Staff has also vowed to cut down in retaliation against the government’s pet industries for the budget cuts. In the next war, tanks will be a liability, given the great advances in anti-tank weaponry in recent decades.

The details are open to discussion, but counter-intuitively, the budget crunch is a welcome development, one that puts pressure on the army to adapt itself to the new realities of regional battlefields.

The world media keep reporting on the massacre of civilians in Homs, but the very timetable should give one pause. There has now been heavy shelling for almost a week, and Assad’s tanks have not even reached the town center. That lends credibility to the Syrian government’s claim that it is conducting a major anti-rebel operation, as opposed to massacring an innocent civilian population.


Having failed initially to extort employment concessions from the government, Histadrut has declared a general strike, which includes most government and municipal agencies.

As usual, the government will eventually give in. Which raises the question, what are the limits of the trade union’s influence? Being a monopoly, they can naturally extort virtually anything from the government, so there is no theoretical limit to their demands.

But our socialist government refuses to take the only step needed to solve the crisis: subject trade unions to the same anti-monopoly laws that govern the rest of the country.

February 2012
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