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Friday, April 11, 2008

The Strategic Value of the Golan Heights

In one of my favorite movies, Braveheart, there is a scene where William Wallace's men trick the king's men into following them down a valley. Then, the British forces are forces are trapped down this valley while Wallace and his men are standing at the top of the peak. Among other things, that scene proves the value of the high ground in any sort of warfare. The strategic value of high ground is as valuable today as it was back in the 1200's. Many things have obviously evolved in warfare however the high ground is one of those timeless concepts of warfare that will have worth for as long as there is warfare.
The value of the Golan HEIGHTS is embedded in its name. It gives Israel something that is coveted in any for of warfare, the high ground. It stands directly between itself and one of its biggest enemies, Syria. By controlling the high ground, Israel has a nearly insurmountable advantage over Syria in any war.
In any full scale land operation Syria would have trek up the heights at which point they would likely be looking up at all sorts of Israeli soldiers waiting for them up on the high ground.
Thus, it is naive at best and downright disingenuous at worst for anyone to proclaim that Israel should ever for any reason give up the Golan Heights. Never in the history of warfare has any military ever given up the high ground voluntarily and yet that is exactly what some have suggested that Israel do in the name of peace. Of course, this is a ludicrous assertion. It is in the name of peace that Israel must always maintain the high ground. The only thing stopping Syria from any foolish invasion of Israel is the knowledge that such an invasion must include a trek up a steep mountain while Israelis would be waiting for them. The Israeli air power is unmatched anywhere in the Middle East and some even say it is better than the U.S. and thus the high ground is vital in deterring any military action against it.
Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer said Friday that Israel has been making efforts to bring Syria back to the negotiating table. Ben-Eliezer spoke just days after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hinted that Israel might be holding -- or planning to hold -- secret talks with Syria. 'All efforts are being made to bring Syria to the negotiating table in order to sign a peace treaty,' Ben-Eliezer told Israel Radio. 'We know exactly what the price would be,' he added -- namely, Israel's return of the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau captured from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War....Ben-Eliezer told Israel Radio that Barak, now defense minister, was a partner to the current efforts to renew talks with Damascus.On Wednesday, Olmert told foreign journalists that Israel favors face-to-face talks with Syria that could result in a peace treaty, adding: 'That doesn't mean that when we sit together you have to see us,' he said, an apparent reference to the possibility of secret contacts. A week earlier, Olmert told a joint meeting of the Israeli and German Cabinets that he was ready to restart negotiations with Syria if Damascus would end its support for Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas and Palestinian militant groups. All are backed by Iran and opposed to Israel's existence." A story to watch carefully as the 60th anniversary of Israel approaches.....

It is beyond irresponsible to expect any peace with Syria if that peace involves giving up the Golan Heights. Those peace overtures from Syria must be met with extreme skepticism and the Israelis must understand that this so called peace deal is nothing more than a trojan horse to regain the coveted high ground. Of course, Syria favors peace if the gain the high ground. Once they have the high ground all bets would be off. No amount of sustained air power would ever overcome the advantage of the high ground. Olmert is fooling himself if he thinks that Syria would abide by any peace agreement if that peace agreement cedes such a strategic war advantage.
It's time for all to realize exactly what an advantage the Golan Heights provides Israel, which faces nearly 360% degrees of enemies. By giving itself the high ground against one of its biggest enemies, it is in and of itself a peace deal. That's because Syria has no opportunity for any sort of attack facing an uphill climb of the Heights. Any peace deal that gives up that high ground isn't worth the paper its written on, and it is time everyone that deals with that region realizes why the Heights are so vital for Israel.


Anonymous said...


I am curious, what is your background? Do you have any military training? Do you know capabilities of Israeli forces?

What about syrian forces? Why is Syria going to attack Israel? Why not do what hezbollah did in 2006 and launch missles? much safer and cheaper. The fact is that Golan Heights don't have the same strategic relevance to Israel as they did in 1967/1973 and 1980/90s.


mike volpe said...

Syria can do all sorts of things. The Golan Heights is of course not an all everything insulation against any attack anywhere toward Israel. So what?

Just because Israel has many enemies with many fronts they can attack her from doesn't mean that Israel should create another front by giving up the high ground.