Lt Gen (R) Dave Deptula on “Three key points on deterrence and the U.S. response to the Israel-Hamas war”

Lawfire®readers may recall that retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula spoke at our 28th Annual National Security Law conference last February (see here).  Last week General Deptula spoke about deterrence and the U.S. response to the Israel-Hamas war on ‘Your World,’ hosted by Neil Cavuto on FOX NEWS, on October 12, 2023.  He shared the transcript with me with his permission to share these thoughts with you.  I think you’ll be interest in the three key action steps he mentions.

Neil Cavuto: General, there is a fear that whatever happens… with these ground troops… the fear of it escalating beyond just taking on Hamas dealing with Hezbollah in the north, maybe even Syria… where do you think this is going?

Gen Deptula: Well, Neil, it really depends. It depends on a couple of key points. First, I think it’s obvious to your audience that the United States has very clear interests in the region, and that demands smart concerted action, and a willingness to employ forces should circumstances warrant.  So, this whole issue of deterrence and the how and why the U.S. moved force into the region is extraordinarily important.

The key to deterring Hezbollah is their understanding of the willingness of the U.S. to actually use force against them. So, that has to be made very clear to both Hezbollah and Iran. Deterrence is only credible if those being deterred understand that we are going to follow-through. So, no invisible redlines.

Second, what I’d share with you is we must not repeat the recent administration trendline of telling adversaries what we won’t do as we’ve seen in U.S. dealings with the Russians, because that cedes the initiative to an adversary and it’s self-defeating.

Third, our national leaders must also meet the moment and realize that there is a severe cost for prioritizing politics over smart policy. What I mean here is it we’ve got to pass a federal budget; we’ve got to end the risk of a government shutdown; and we’ve got to get to a common vision to move past the impasse in getting a House [of Representatives] speaker in place.

And finally, the US military today struggles to meet demands in one theater let alone four, and by that, I mean defending our own homeland, what’s going on in Europe, the Pacific, and now a hot war in the Middle East. So, it’s about time that national security becomes a talking point on the campaign trail.

The world’s on fire and the United States is woefully unprepared… and that demands a national conversation.

Neil Cavuto: Can I ask you about tomorrow, Friday the 13th, and talk of this national day of Jihad? Some are calling it a day to recognize Hamas… the Palestinians by extension… depends on who’s telling you what this day is all about. I do know that every available policeman and women in this city has been told to come to work and be, be at the ready. What do you think?

Gen Deptula: Well, I think like most patriotic Americans that whole notion is extraordinarily disturbing. There is no equity in actions between Hamas and Israel—period. Hamas is pure evil and must be eliminated.

It’s extraordinarily disturbing to those of us who have served and sworn to defend the Constitution of United States and all the rights associated with that, to include the First Amendment above all, but the response of some to include some of America’s academic institutions who have not condemned the actions of Hamas is morally reprehensible.

Neil Cavuto: I think you know where I come from on this subject. I think [your thoughts] came through loud and clear, General. Thank you and thank you for your service, sir.

About the Author:

Lt General David A. Deptula, USAF (Ret.), serves as the Dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. Gen Deptula is the world’s foremost expert on military aerospace issues.  He was the principal attack planner for the Operation Desert Storm air campaign; commander of no-fly-zone operations over Iraq in the late 1990s; director of the air campaign over Afghanistan in 2001; twice a joint task force commander; and was the air commander for the 2005 South Asia tsunami relief operations. He retired from the Air Force in 2010 after more than 34 years of distinguished service. Gen Deptula has BA and ME degrees from the University of Virginia and a MS degree from National War College.

The views expressed by guest authors are their own, and do not necessarily reflect my views or those of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, or Duke University.  See also here.

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