Sixty-three percent of Israelis reportedly want Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to resign in the wake of what’s perceived to be a failed operation in Lebanon. They’re outraged that Israel’s revered military somehow faltered in dislodging Hezbollah’s leadership and securing the return of two captured soldiers.

One interesting point of comparison is to President Bush – we’ve now been in what a majority of Americans have perceived for some time to be a failed military operation, yet no majority has coalesced in favor of the President’s stepping down. In fact, Bush was reelected nearly two years ago despite serious signs that the Iraq mission was going poorly.

Why the differences?

– The Iraq Operation did get rid of Saddam Hussein

– Part of its the structure of Israeli politics, where governments come and go based on tenuous coalitions and votes of no confidence

– The role of the military in Israeli life is far more preeminent than it is for Americans – the vast majority of citizens serve not just for an initial 3 year stint, but also thereafter in regular reserve duty. Citizens perceive themselves to rely on the Israeli army daily for the survival of the state. So the Israeli public’s stake in matters of military performance is much deeper and more direct than Americans’

– With rockets raining on Northern Israel, the threat posed by Hezbollah to Israel is much more live and in closer proximity than that posed by the Iraqi insurgency to the American public – the failure to deal decisively with it is thus all the more unacceptable. Whereas a large percentage of Americans don’t follow the news from Iraq, Israelis don’t have the luxury of tuning out

But, on the flip side:

– Whereas the Israeli operation in Lebanon was based on widely recognized provocation, the US invasion of Iraq was based on misleading and false intelligence

– Whereas 157 Israelis were killed in a month-long operation, the Iraq war has lasted three and a half years and resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths at a cost of hundreds of billions

– The Lebanon war still has the potential to culminate in a stable, UN enforced ceasefire and a defanged Hezbollah. No comparably optimistic scenario has yet manifested in Iraq.

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