Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Winograd Report On The Lebanon War Comes Out

Today, the long delayed Winograd Committee's report on the Lebanon War was released in Israel.

The chairman, ex-justice Eliahu Winograd found what were termed 'grave failings' in the way the war was managed on both the part of the Israeli military and the country's political leadership.

The report cited a lack of goals and planning, such as the failure to end the Hezbollah threat to Northern Israel and the farcical last minute offensive which was launched after an equally farcical cease fire agreement had already been reached at the UN. Contrary to what Olmert had to say, that offensive had nothing to do with UN resolution 1701 itself, if one believes John Bolton, the ex-US Ambassador to the UN who actually negotiated the ceasefire resolution under severe pressure from Condi Rice.

It characterized the Israeli decision making at the hands of PM Ehud Olmert, defense minister Amir Peretz, foreign minister Tzipi Livni and army of staff Dan Halutz as `devoid of strategic thinking.' Peretz and Halutz have already resigned.

The report also cited the unreadiness of the IDF and the lack of planning to secure the civilian population of Northern Israel from missile attack by Hezbollah.

The final report and the preliminary report, released last April both tell the same story and cite the Olmert government's lack of planning, misuse of the military and overall poor judgement.

The key now is what happens politically in Israel out of this.

AT least 70% (and probably more) of Israelis who were polled want Olmert to resign over Lebanon. There's an historical precedent here; Israeli PM Golda Meir and other members of her government resigned over the ill preparedness of the Israeli military and losses connected with negligence during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.

But of course Olmert, Livni and crew are of an entirely different type.

The present defense minister, Labor's Ehud Barak had promised that he would pull Labor out of Israel's governing coalition and allow the country to go to new elections if the Winograd Report was critical of Olmert.

It remains to be seen whether he will keep that promise. I expect he won't, because the report left just enough wiggle room for Olmert and company to allow Barack to slip through the cracks,particularly when it came to the Winograd Commission's take on that final ground assault in Lebanon .

However, one way or another the country will go to new elections one day....and the electorate may very well demand some payback from Barak, Labor and Kadima for continuing to thwart their consensus just to cling to power.

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