Sunday, April 29, 2007

Olmert and Peretz: one foot out the door, the other on a banana peel

And as far as I'm concerned, it couldn't happen to a more deserving pair.

Along with all the revelations and ongoing criminal investigations against Israeli PM Olmert , the other shoe is about to drop when the Winograd Commission releases its report tomorrow on the mishandling of the Lebanon War.

Several Israeli media outlets have already given the public over there previews, and it isn't pretty.

The report criticizes Olmert and defense minister Amir Peretz for failing to put contingency planning into action that had been drawn up long before the war.

It describes how Olmert refused to allow the IDF to make a ground incursion in force into Lebanon but essentially had no plan to propose instead... so , according to the committee the war was grossly mismanaged and decisions were hastily made on the fly while Hezbollah created chaos in Northern Israel.

As for our friend Amir Peretz, the report cites him for his lack of military command experience and for essentially bypassing the Israeli ministry of defense so that in the end he was running the war personally with Olmert without the necessary knowledge to do so!

The report even said that Peretz's decision to run the war this way was motivated by irrelevant personal considerations ( his ego, perhaps?) and that perhaps he was negligent in even accepting the post of defense minister in the first place.

As for ex-IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, the commission criticizes him for arrogance, underestimating the Katyusha rocket threat Israel faced and quashing criticism within military ranks. Even though Halutz has already resigned, the report may implicate senior officers who colluded with him in this, and thus may implicate senior officers who are still in the IDF.

So why are these buffoons still in office? Carl in Jerusalem at Israel Matzav has a good explanation on what it would take to remove Olmert as Prime Minister. Like impeaching a president, it takes a lot of time and a concensus from the Knesset.

But things may be looking up.

Unlike Halutz, Olmert and Peretz refused to do the decent thing and resign, but they may not be able to put that off for too much longer.

Oddly enough, it appears that both the Israeli Left and the Israeli Right may be uniting to force Olmert's hand, as none other than Yossi Beilen and Bibi Netanyahu met secretly on Friday to discuss the report and the possibility of elections.

"Olmert's fate will be similar to that of Golda Meir's after the Yom Kippur war," said Beilin.

And my favorite Israeli politician, the courageous Effie Eitam (National Union-NRP) called for new elections. He said that "the commission's conclusions on Olmert, Peretz and Halutz's failures verify the public's feeling that the government had failed and that it should resign."

I also expect the Israeli public to come out in force calling for Olmert's ouster. Israel is a small and fairly vibrant democracy, where people don't hesitate to button hole politicians and read them the riot act.

Both Olmert and his Kadima party are highly unpopular, and this could very possibly be what pushes them over the cliff.

Good riddance. And hopefully, just in time.


Anonymous said...

If the lessons learned from the Israeli/Lebanon war are that the war was mismanaged then we learned the wrong lessons. Sure the war could have been managed better. I think this is going to be true of all wars. There are things that could have been done better, however, the proper lesson to learn is that Israel did not have enough time to defeat Hezbollah. Without the use of nuclear weapons to defeat an enemy as powerful and dug in as Hezbollah would have required at least three to six montths and this is assuming every thing went perfectly. Every thing did mot go perfectly. Given that every thing did not go perfectly, Israel probably would have needed nine months to a year to defeat Hezbollah. Had Israel been willing to use nuclear weapons this could have sped up the process, however, given the positions of Russia and China the use of nuclear weaposn would have been problematic at best. The IDF was only allowed about thitty days to defeat Hezbollah. This was not enough time. When the UN passed a resolution calling for withdrawl or something to this effect, Israel folded. The bottom line is with the use of conventional force there was no way Lebaonon/Hezbollah was going to be defeated in only about thirty days. To defeat the Lebanese army of Hezbollah would have required at least six months and probably longer. This is the case regardless of who the people in command were.

It is not an accident that I use Lebanon and Hezbollah simultaneously. This is yet another lesson we should have learned. The Lebanese government is no friend of the US or the Western world. Israel is in a fight for its survival against Hezbollah forces. Lebanon allows Hezbollah to use its territory as a base for its attacks on Israel. Also, when Israel reacted defensively to try and stop Hezbollah from attacking it, it seems the first thing Lebanese leaders did was to go on television to criticize Israel for daring to defend itself. If the Lebanese government was any friend of liberty, they would have gone on television to express solidarity with Israel.

You write: "Israel is a small and fairly vibrant democracy, where people don't hesitate to button hole politicians and read them the riot act." I agree. The same is true with regards to the United States, however, we would need to suppor the word "small" for "large." The bottom line is a premature withdrawl from Iraq coupled with capitualtions to Iran and Syria will end the United States as a major world power. This will mean massive life style adjustments for the average American. Democrats will be held accountable for forcing a premature withdrawl. Republcians will be held accountable for mismanaging the the situation in the first place. Due to Republican mismanagement this may have mad a premature withdrawl inevitable. This may create an opening for a third party.

Anonymous said...

That should have been we will need to change the word "small" for "large." I apolgize for the typos.

Anonymous said...

Hi B. Poster.
Actually, B, the problem was not time, IMO but sheer mismanagement.

And this is something I know about first hand.

It's important to remember that neither Olmert or Peretz have any real military command experience.

According to some of my Tzahal (Israli army) contacts, Olmert and Peretz sent the IDF in piecemeal,ignoring long standing contingency plans for dealing with Hezbollah.

Not only that, but they made little or no provision for logistics, whichmeant army units were in the field without adequate ammo, food or water.

Not only that, but they had studiously ignored Hezbollah's buildup in the months before Hezbollah attacked Israeli territory, even after they were warned repeatedly by the Mossad and Army intelligence what was going on.

Part of the problem was Halutz, whom became Chief of Staff based more on politics than on seniority or expertise.

Halutz was an air force general, with little or no understanding of how to utilize ground forces, and as such was prepared to toady to Olmert and Peretz...who apprently had no clue as to what they were doing.

When the Tzahal was finally unleashed, after the shameful ceasefire was agreed on and three days before it took effect, they rapidly consolidated their positions, moved north of the Litani River and essentially had Hezbollah surrounded in an iron ring.

You don't destroy a terrorist infrastructure like Hezbollah by bombing them, partucularly when the scum are hiding amongst civilians. For that, you need boots on the ground.

Had they gone into the Hezbollah positions in force from day one, things would have ended very differently.

Anonymous said...

Freedom Fighter

Thanks for the response to my post. True to your blooging name you are a true Freedom Fighter. Thanks for your excellent work. Please keep it up!!

Please understand I mean no disrespect to your contacts within the Israeli Army. These men and women do an incredible job. They are the primary buffer between the Western world and its terrorist enemies. Unfortunately most Westerners do not even realize this. I cannot express my gratitude to these people enough for all that they do. They are in my prayers daily. I write all of this because I don't want my pro-Israel stance to be doubted.

I think it was Winston Churchill who said. to roughly paraphrase, "history will be kind to me. I intend to write it." I think your contacts in the IDF may be trying to implement the same strategy. I'm not an Israeli but it seems the Olmert government is not very popular, as it should not be. The bottom line is, on their watch, the IDF did not seem to achieve the objectives that were set. For this, Olmert and the governemnt should be held accountable. How this government will be held accountable is up to the Israelis not the Americans or anyone else.

Politically it is far easier to shift the blame to Olmert, Halutz, and Peretz than it is to point out that Israel did not have time achieve the objectives that were set forth. By hanging Olmert, Peretz, and Halutz out to dry there is political gain for some. By pointing out that Israel did not have time to complete the mission leaves less opportunity for politcal gain. The Israeli public nor the entire Western world is being weill served by this political game playing. I should point out that it seems Aemrican politicians play simillar "gotcha" games. No one is well served by this stuff.

You write: "When the Tzahal was finally unleashed, after the shameful ceasefire was agreed on and three days before it took effect, they rapidly consolidated their positions, moved north of the Litani River, and had Hezbollah surronded in an iron ring." I agree that the cease fire was shameful. I would go a bit further and describe it as treasonous. It was treasonous on the part of the Israeli governemnt to agree to it. It was treasonous on the part of the American government to have any part in it. When our most important ally is in a life or death struggle, we owe it to them to stand by them. I'm not sure how this happened but it seems Israel was clearly betrayed here. If Israel had Hezbollah surrounded in an "iron ring", they should have declared the cease fire null and void due to changing conditions on the ground. Actualy they never should have agreed to a cease fire in the first place. In any event, iron ring or not it was going to take at least three to six months to flush out and defeat Hezbollah. If they were really that thoroughly surronded, perhaps they could have been beaten in three months as opposed to six months or longer.

You write: "you don't destroy a terrorist infrastructure like Hezbollah by bombing them, particularly when the scum are hiding amongst civilians. For that you need boots on the ground." I agree. Actually this has been the problem that the Americans and the coalition have had in Iraq and Afghanistan from day one. There have not been enough boots on the ground from the beginning and there still aren't. I think you will need a bombing campaign to soften up the targets but the primary component probably should be boots on the ground. In any event the primary responsibility of the Israeli government is the defense of Israeli citizens. If Hezbollah terrorists are going to hide amongst civilians, and they will, the Israelis should bomb the terrorists and not concern themselves with the civilians of the enemy. With regards to "boots on the ground" I think they should have learned from the mistakes made by the Americans when they and the coalition invaded Iraq. It appears they may not have learned from the mistakes made by the Americans and their coalition partners but towards the end they seemed to be making the necessary adjustments. It is truly tragic that Israel agreed to the ceasefire, however, even if Israel had used the entire Army, a month was not going to be enough time. They would have needed a minimum of three months. Since they seemed to be slow about getting the ground forces in, it probably would have required about six months or longer to defeat Hezbollah.

You write: "Had they gone into the Hezbollah positions in force from day one things would have ended differently." We do not know for certain how things would have turned out had a different strategy been used. It seems the strategy that you and your sources would have used would have involved less use of air power and a greater use of ground forces. This may have caused the war to end differently but we do not know for certain. What is certain is this is a very powerful and highly adaptable enemy. This enemy can and does alter its strategy based on what we do. We should also adapt to what the enemy does as well. I should point out that I view Israel's enemies as America's enemies.

When the Israelis investigate the failings of Olmert, Halutz, Peretz, and company they also should ask who the military planners were who thought that Hezbollah, using conventional means, could be defeated in only a month. To believe that Israel, the US, or any Western military force could defeat an enemy as powerful and dug in as Hezbollah in only about a month is an act of extreme hubris.

You and your sources seem to believe that a greater use of ground forces and less reliance on air power would have caused the war to end much better. I tend to agree with you and your sources. Had Israel used more ground forces early on and had Israel used them more decisively this probably would have enabled Israel to win much faster, however, given the time restraints of only about a month, I don't think it would have mattered who the generals were.

The biggest lesson to be learned from this is enemies as strong as Hezbollah cannot be defeated in only a month. To do this would have required at least three months and probably longer. Unfortunately Hezbollah seems to be stronger now than they were before. To defeat them now will probably require at least a year of hard fighting. The sooner the IDF and the Israeli government level with the Israeli public on this the better.