Accountability

ACCOUNTABILITY….The Israeli government is being held accountable for its failures in the Lebanon war:

The Defense Ministry halted the work of its war review committee Monday to give Prime Minister Ehud Olmert more time to decide whether to authorize a fuller examination of Israel’s monthlong air campaign and ground incursion against the Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon.

….Some of the harshest criticism has come from military reservists, whose voices carry great weight in Israeli society. The veterans protesting in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening demanded that Olmert, his defense minister and the army’s chief of staff step down.

….Olmert is now weighing a stronger government-appointed commission or an independent panel appointed by the Supreme Court. The latter would be the most forceful option of all but also the most risky for the prime minister, as the group would have subpoena power and would not shy away from recommending that officials be fired.

Astonishing, no? Israel fights a four-week war that fails to achieve its aims and the public is so irate that the prime minister is almost immediately forced to create a panel with the teeth to (possibly) bring down the government. Here in America, we fight a three-year war that has not only failed to achieve its objectives but has demonstrably weakened our national security, and the collective response is a yawn. What a contrast.

Back in Israel, one of the primary memes making the rounds is that their military failed because it had gotten soft after spending the past several decades occupying the West Bank and Gaza instead of preparing for real war. I’m agnostic for the moment on whether or not a better prepared army could have defeated Hezbollah ? I suspect it couldn’t have ? but in any case I think Haaretz is right to say that the army is hardly to blame for this state of affairs. Rather, it’s the politicians who are responsible:

It is possible to continue lamenting that there is no one to talk to, but there has as yet been no attempt to talk with the new Palestinian government. Those who refuse to speak with an elected government, and instead arrest its ministers, must take into account the price that the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli society will pay for this.

….The main danger of the unsuccessful war with Hezbollah is that the wrong conclusions will be drawn from it. The fear is that instead of exploring every possible way to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, instead of urging the international community to help us find a solution to the conflict, the “solutions” will be found in military training, additional force allocations and extended military service and reserve duty, so that everyone will be well trained for every mission.

….However, this thinking needs to be reversed. Israel must recognize the fact that security is obtained through peace agreements, and that a small country is not capable of winning everywhere and every time….An agreement with the Palestinians that will lead to quiet on the most important front has become even more urgent, so that the chief of staff who replaces Dan Halutz will not waste the army’s time on policing, but will instead devote it to defending the country.

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