The more our leaders err, the more we suffer. Upon reading the headlines about the failures and blunders in the Lebanon war, the unaviodable conclusion is that the tasks were too big for our leaders. There is the prime minister, whose slips of tongue precede him, whether regarding nuclear ambiguity or the abductees, and whether they are alive or dead. And there are the disgraceful reports about the Israel Defense Forces - about a chief of staff who erred in his relations with senior officers, generals who did not act properly and flaws in the command positions. About medications that had expired, tanks that were below standard and maps that were not current. As the investigators put it: "We couldn't turn over a single stone without finding serious rot under it."
And this is before we receive the Winograd report, which is liable to lob the bomb of comprehensive responsibility at the government and the army. There is already talk of the next war, of the danger of a Shi'ite Tehran-Beirut-Damascus axis and Hamas in Gaza, which may try to implement Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's vision for the annihilation of Israel.
Instead of a short burst of punishment, bee-style - going in, stinging and getting out - the government started an all-out war, which exposed our weakness on the home front in the face of the staunchness of Hezbollah. During the next war, its rockets will be much heavier and more accurate. A leader who can bring millions of demonstrators into Beirut's streets with one phone call is proving anew that the magical power of Israel's leaders has not expired: Every time we strike at Lebanon, Hezbollah gets stronger.
Now some intelligence sources are predicting a large attack next summer. In this confusion, the concerned citizen should adopt the more pessimistic forecast, and should rightly ask himself whom to believe. Will the bleak predictions prove true? In light of the laxness and carelessness we have now experienced, can we rely on the IDF and the government?
Winston Churchill conducted the Battle of Britain with a small cabinet of five ministers - a wise, collective civilian mind that dictated the moves of the army. Churchill predicted the war years in advance, and at no stage did he accept the dictates of the generals and their plans as Moses' Torah from Sinai. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who came into power by chance, had no clue about military matters. He was captivated by the charms of Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, who day by day proves he is charmed mainly by himself. Olmert did not ask the right questions. A local politico for most of his life, he did not ask whether it was possible to carry out a campaign like this with a snap of the finger, and only from the air. Did he know in advance that for 33 days, Hezbollah would fire about 200 rockets daily as far south as Hadera?
Olmert is in love with himself as a speechmaker, especially abroad. He hurt our friend the United States twice - first by attacking the Baker-Hamilton report, which calls for an end to the Israeli occupation as part of a solution in Iraq, and then by embarrassing both Israel and America in revealing that nuclear ambiguity was only a maneuver. He also erred in appointing Amir Peretz defense minister so that his pal Abraham Hirchson would become finance minister. This appointment, as Talleyrand said, was worse than a crime; it was stupid. Peretz, a buffoon of a local politico, is now fighting like a lion to maintain the leadership of the Labor Party. With self-esteem that knows no bounds, he still believes he will be elected prime minister. In the meantime, Olmert does not dare dismiss him for his failure as defense minister, lest the Labor Party leave with him.
Halutz will no doubt be compelled to resign, as in the saying, "When three people tell you you're drunk, lie down." Olmert is the only one whose party cannot depose him. This is because Kadima is not really a party with orderly arrangements for deposing. And thus, the country is stuck with a leadership that has bottomed out in the polls. Only an external threat, like renewed terror or a third intifada, will impel it toward elections or a political reshuffle. The public will not agree to suffer for long.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now