Luckless Barak

The tragedy of Ehud Barak - that is liable to soon become a tragedy for all of us - is that luck is the one talent he doesn't have.

Sound the all-clear! Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Yaron Dekel on the "It's All Talk" radio program that a war with Iran would not result in 50,000 fatalities; nor would 5,000 be killed. Moreover, even 500 won't be killed if everyone takes cover in their homes.

Since not everyone will take cover in their homes, that last sentence is rather optimistic. There's a rule in logic: Anything can stem from a mistaken assumption. Thus the sentence, "There won't even be a single casualty if everyone takes cover at home," is also logically valid, as is the statement, "All the dead will be resurrected if everyone takes cover at home."

Perhaps the defense minister would like to use these statements in his next interview, and thus drum up widespread support for an Israeli attack on Iran.

The same defense minister now sounding the all-clear was, during the summer, sounding a loud warning siren. He spoke of the 50 tons of explosives expected to land on us daily during the next war, "statistically distributed," which presumably was meant to comfort us; who knows, maybe the missile will fall on our neighbors, not on us. One can always pray to the goddess of luck.

In this context, it would be interesting to ask our defense minister if he himself prays to the goddess of luck, and if she's been of any help.

Barak is apparently very talented, as evidenced by his meteoric rise in the army, in politics and in business. Many credit him with analytical thinking, math and music talents and the like.

But something haunts him, time after time, and there are no few examples of this: The Tze'elim B training disaster when he was chief of general staff, the Labor Party's failure in the 2009 elections under his leadership and its disintegration thereafter, and the bloody raid on the Mavi Marmara last year and its destructive diplomatic fallout are just a few.

There were high expectations from Barak, and he very nearly fulfilled them. In 1992, foreign sources reported, he almost succeeded in assassinating former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein; he nearly succeeded in reaching peace agreements with Syria and the Palestinians in 2000 (when instead of peace, we got the second intifada ); he was close to rehabilitating the Labor Party when he got a second chance to lead it in 2007 (but in the end, he destroyed it ).

Given this record, and given the laws of statistics, it's natural to suspect that Barak will be almost correct regarding his predictions of projected deaths, and will come close to winning a war against Iran.

The Iran problem is extremely difficult and the International Atomic Energy Agency report issued last week revealed the smoking gun to the entire world. One can't ignore the evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons. One can assume that the United States and other countries will upgrade their efforts to stop Iran, which threatens them as well.

The idea that Israel can or should cope with Iran alone has megalomaniacal qualities. The fear increases further when this idea forms the basis of a pact between the prime minister and the defense minister - a disquieting pact between someone who talks and doesn't act, and someone who acts and fails.

There's disagreement over whether Barak's serial failures are the result of his character and lack of qualifications, or whether Barak is actually a brilliant and worthy leader, but merely unlucky. But this argument is no longer relevant.

Napoleon was once asked: "What talents do you demand from your generals?" And he answered: "The only talent I want them to have is luck."

The tragedy of Ehud Barak - that is liable to soon become a tragedy for all of us - is that luck is the one talent he doesn't have.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: ברק כמעט