Crush the Head of the Snake

Wars between generals over IDF chief position have always been slimy, and, like a snake, should be crushed as they rear their heads from the grass.


First of all, I want to beg forgiveness from former army chief of staff and Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon for not missing any opportunity to ridicule his statement that he wears tall boots because of the many snakes in the grass at military headquarters. Now it is becoming clear how right he was. Snakes usually sleep in the winter and wake up hungry in the summer, then they slither over to any place where they can find easy prey.

Ya'alon did not fight when he was told he would not be named for a fourth year as chief of staff, to make way for Dan Halutz, who then-prime minister Arik Sharon and his colleagues believed would have the emotional wherewithal to evacuate the residents of the Gush Katif bloc and demolish their houses, mainly with "determination." After Halutz resigned his post as chief of staff following the unfortunate 2006 Second Lebanon War, the government decided that from now on the chief of staff will serve four years, instead of three years and an optional fourth, as was previously customary. This, to avoid wars between generals.

I won't mention names, but I can disclose that there was an officer who used Noa Eshkol (the former prime minister's daughter ) to reach the post of chief of staff. There was also an officer who used Rabin's table at the Olympia Restaurant to reach the same post.

There was a senior officer who just before his appointment to chief of staff was falsely rumored to be gay. Lobbyists, either from the political hierarchy or on the basis of personal friendships, have always been active in the chief of staff's appointment. To the IDF's credit, it can be said that it remains the only state apparatus whose head is not appointed based on party-political affiliation.

Motta Gur, who served as military attache in Washington, was brought back home to replace David Elazar, who was compelled to resign as chief of staff following the Agranat Commission's report on the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

Gabi Ashkenazi was also called back from civilian life to the post of chief of staff, after Halutz was forced to resign. Unlike his predecessors, Ashkenazi was not assisted by lobbyists. It was clear that he was the right man at the right time to rebuild the army after the failures of the Second Lebanon War. He knew in advance that he would serve a four-year term.

Since that decision was meant to end the wars between the generals, it's unclear what Ehud Barak was thinking when he decided to announce a few months ago that Ashkenazi's term would not be extended to a fifth year. Why not? Did Ashkenazi ask for the fifth year? The answer is no. So why did Barak announce that he is not granting him a year that he never asked for? To show that he makes the decisions? Maybe.

Some say that Ashkenazi's popularity in the public and the army angered and disturbed Barak. Perhaps some of Ashkenazi's fans thought he deserves a fifth year. But whether that is the case or not, we haven't heard a hint from him about it.

Ashkenazi is not arrogant, and never said a bad word about the defense minister. You can't say that about what Barak, as chief of staff, had to say about his defense minister, Moshe Arens. It was no coincidence that the secretaries in the chief of staff's office used to call Barak "Napo" (Napoleon ). Barak's attitude toward Ashkenazi took a turn for the worse after Operation Cast Lead in Gaza and the credit Ashkenazi was given for the low casualty rate among our forces.

Interpersonal relations are not Barak's forte, to put it mildly, and if it appears that someone has stolen his thunder, he is quick "to show him who's the boss." And when there might be a pyromaniac at work holding matches in Barak's office, it's not difficult to get Barak hot under the collar. Describing Ashkenazi in a document shown on Channel 2 as a kind of David Levy is malicious - it's been rattling around in the media for a few weeks. I believe the chief of staff when he says he couldn't care less about it.

The lead actor here is Barak, whose mind is not easy to fathom. Clearly he is in dire political straits. His party backing has shrunk, and his last asset is the defense portfolio. In this role he sees Ashkenazi's popularity as a threat.

There is something lame about Barak's performance, especially when it comes to interpersonal relations. The fact is that his closest aides abandoned him along the way with scathing criticism of his inhuman handling of interpersonal relations.

The prime minister did the right thing on Sunday when he ordered an investigation without delay into who wrote or fabricated the "Arad document." The heads of the snakes have to be crushed when they're still hungry.