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The last of his serfs and eunuchs are now releasing themselves from their indentured status: We no longer love our master, we are going free.

There isn't a politician in Israel who has caused worse damage. As prime minister for 20 months - the shortest and most wasted term in Israel's history - he is remembered mainly as a joke. But he was the only one who laughed. You need special talent to burn so many stews in one swollen pot, which compares only to the defense budget in its inflated size.

He left behind him a scorched legacy of "There's nobody to talk to" - neither the Palestinians nor the Syrians - and thereby buried the Labor Party. An entire generation that wanted Peace Now instead received a wait as lengthy as his escape route. He swore allegiance on the grave of Yitzhak Rabin, but it was perjury.

He dismantled his party and disgraced its followers. They were disgusted not only by his political behavior but also by his personal behavior. They never understood what sin they had committed that warranted him as punishment.

As he built up his reputation as Mr. Security, they were momentarily comforted: Although he isn't fit to be prime minister - he is neither a politician, nor a leader, nor exactly a socialist, nor even a mentsch - he is an expert defense minister.

The general public cannot judge a minister's performance or how much he really knows. It's enough for one chicken in the media to sound the call, and the entire chicken run will cluck behind him.

But Ehud Barak is a bad defense minister - a defenseless minister. He is avoiding any serious investigative committee because he is protecting our soldiers with his own body. But that's too transparent: He knows only how to protect himself.

So far, he has two major campaigns to his credit: Operation Cast Lead in Gaza on land and the Turkish flotilla at sea. In military academies in Israel and abroad, these campaigns will be taught among other tales of heroism and wisdom; their tactical moves and strategic results will be analyzed.

Here is what every Jewish mother should know: He did not redeem Gilad Shalit; communities near Gaza continue to live in the shadow of Qassam rockets; the Iron Dome missile defense system is at present more dome than iron; he lifted the ban on legumes and herbs entering Gaza suddenly and in shame - as though it were not he who originally imposed it, with a mountain of excuses - and strengthened Hamas; the distribution of gas masks to the home front failed, as a general testified this week; he did not evacuate a single outpost, thanks to the High Court of Justice and his own worldview; he even managed to quarrel with the army's chief of staff, thus bringing some of his evil spirit into the heart of the supreme command; the Iranian clock continues to tick like a Breitling, and its Hezbollah hand is moving toward zero hour.

But Barak Caesar is a successful defense minister. Sometimes it looks as though he is living in a sales-promotion film produced at an air show.

Ever since the Netanyahu-Lieberman government was established, he has done their bidding: now as a defensive shield for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, now as an advocate for Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. So why should they mind placing a crown of defense on his head, the way we would place a crown on a child's head on the Purim holiday, as long as it makes him happy?

The ship of Labor can no longer be rescued, its captain is lost. But Barak will sell his soul and save it, and will be the next defense minister. And in the elections, he will run together with Netanyahu, after they spent an entire term together scratching each other's back.

Because Israel, in its situation, needs the very best.