What Lessons?

Weren't we in precisely this same horror film, with the very same script, 14 years earlier? Will the committee have something to say about this?

The publication of the interim report of the Winograd Committee tomorrow is a marginal event. Except for the fate of several individuals, who at most will be replaced by similar ones, nothing will be different the day after. The generals and politicians who cheered for the war from its outset, in a frighteningly unified chorus, will again fill the television screens, this time in the role of admonishers, as pitiful Monday-morning quarterbacks. And we will forgive them their gleeful support for the war. Even if those who conducted the war are forced to step down in the wake of the report, none of their replacements will be someone who opposed the war from the start. Therefore, what was, shall be, even after the report, even in the next war.

The Winograd Committee will not say a word about the writing that was on the wall from the first hour of the war. The committee will address only the brass tacks and the high brass: Because of its appointed scope as well as the characters of its members, the report will deal with the level of preparedness, the performance of the forces and their commanders, the supplies of field rations and what transpired at the supply units and at cabinet meetings. Not a word will be said about the questions that should be troubling us much more: the very fact of embarking on another futile war of choice, the idiotic thought that the war could have solved something, the use of disproportionate military force to restore the lost honor of the Israel Defense Forces, the moral aspects of the war and the intolerably heavy price paid on both sides of the border in the name of hopeless objectives. Even the hollow protest movement that arose after the war refrained from addressing these questions, so what can one expect from "the government examination committee regarding the campaign in the North?" Israel embarked on another unnecessary war, and the Winograd Committee will deal with the details of the battle at Maroun al-Ras.

Only a very few opposed the war from the outset. On July 15, I wrote here: "... we are eager to return to the field of battle and killing without delay, without taking the time to think one step forward, reinforcing the suspicion that we need a war once every few years - and afterward we'll return to exactly the same situation." Without military training, without plasma screens and intelligence reports, this small handful knew what everyone knows today. But the few dogs barked and the convoy galloped onward, to the killing fields.

Major General Gadi Eisenkot, the head of the Operations Directorate during the war, now admits that "after two hours, it was already clear that it was impossible to return the abducted soldiers in a military operation." Why didn't he tell us this then, after the two hours had passed? And now Eisenkot says, "The IDF operation was designed to be a four- to six-day operation, but the plan was disrupted and the campaign developed into a war that lasted over a month." The plan was "disrupted?" Was there really any chance of it not being disrupted? Weren't we in precisely this same horror film, with the very same script, 14 years earlier? Will the committee have something to say about this?

The committee will also not say a word about another subject, which interests almost no one in Israel: the awful killing and destruction we sowed in vain in Lebanon, alongside the heavy price that Israel paid. One thousand Lebanese killed, thousands injured and crippled, and billions of dollars in damage are not on the agenda of the Winograd Committee.

The headlines will declare tomorrow: Israel learned the lessons of the war. Baloney. Proof? There is already growing talk about the next war, this summer.