High-stakes Roller

If a report were to be written about the Winograd war probe report, it would discern "serious failures" in it.

Retired judge Eliyahu Winograd warned yesterday evening against a "think small" approach by the government and the Israel Defense Forces, but the committee itself came out with a report that did not think big - it was twisting, confused and studded with internal contradictions. If a report were to be written about the report, it would discern "serious failures" in it. For example, if the operation of the last 60 hours had no prospect of success from the outset, as the committee notes, why was it necessary? (As the same committee notes.)

Some people expected a mountain, others wished for a molehill, but what we got was a river running through it - a river of words. Everyone can now catch whatever fish he pleases in the turgid waters; everyone can find a sentence that will please his palate and mix with the spices from his political pantry.

Sometimes it seems that fish are less stupid than left-wingers. Will a wounded fish be tempted by the same bait more than once? Will it be hooked twice? But leftists will swim right up to the rod and avidly swallow hook, line and sinker, as though they had never been pulled out of the water by guile. All Shas had to do was exert moderate political pressure and presto, Jerusalem disappeared from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's agenda. And an agreement without Jerusalem is a midwinter night's dream.

Olmert has to go, with the report or without it. Hey, weren't we in a war here? What are we supposed to learn from a late report that our eyes did not see in reality, and early? Do we not have the scrutiny, information and proficiency to judge for ourselves? If Olmert remains in office, the value of responsibility that is a foundation of education will no longer have any value. "They ate my food" and "They drank my drink" are not acceptable excuses for negligence, conceptual laziness and not doing one's homework. They do not improve a failing grade.

From the outset Olmert did not enter the Prime Minister's Bureau by virtue of natural leadership or innate qualities. He got there by sheer coincidence. By chance he was appointed acting prime minister, and Ariel Sharon left the stage unexpectedly. Sharon sank, Olmert floated to the top. He immediately decided to prove that his little finger is thicker than his predecessor's waist; he played with the luck with which he lucked out.

His good luck betrayed him, this high-stakes roller. He launched a war without knowing it was a war; left the rear to its own devices without understanding that the rear was the front this time. He set unattainable targets for the war, rolled on with it without knowing where, and stubbornly tried to extract an imaginary last-minute victory photo from beneath the ruins. He appointed a committee of inquiry of his making and lopped off the branch on which it sat for a year and a half. No report on earth will change what happened, and what should not have been done will not be undone by an angler's tricks.

Guilty or not guilty, he is responsible, and he shall bear the consequences. Prime ministers and party leaders in this country and elsewhere have resigned because they lost seats in elections. In wars, it's not seats but human beings - lives - that are lost. How the mighty did fall, and for what?