May 6, 2007

What Does Winograd Say?

By Noah Pollak

I was going to post something about the Winograd Report, but David Horovitz, the editor in chief of the Jerusalem Post, has written a commentary that is truly worth reading. His piece is thorough and devastating, and it emphasizes not just the headline-making individual incompetence of Ehud Olmert, Amir Peretz, and Dan Halutz, but the collective fecklessness of the Israeli political and defense establishments when it came to post-withdrawal Lebanon. Israelis will be drawing the wrong lesson from the war and from Winograd if they believe that everything would have gone better if only Olmert, Peretz, and Halutz hadn’t been so impossibly inept. The problems are much deeper.

“In its sections on the six years preceding the [2006] conflict,” Horovitz writes, “the commission tracks a process in which the IDF concedes sovereignty at the Lebanon border to Hizbullah. Nothing less. An abandonment of the elementary protection of northern Israel in the face of an extremist guerrilla army utterly committed to the defeat of Israel. … Hizbullah amassed its arsenal of missiles and rockets. It deployed along the border. And it gradually created a situation where it was able ‘to act when and how it wished, without any military response from Israel.’”

And not only did the IDF allow Hezbollah to act when and how it wished, but it turns out that the IDF did not have a response ready for the most predictable contingency on the northern border, namely a missile attack and abduction — which is exactly what happened. And the IDF did not have such a plan in part because of its own hubris and neglect of the northern front, but also because Israel’s political leaders simply had never bothered to ask for one. Horovitz: “[T]he wider appalling picture set out in Winograd [is] the extent of military unreadiness, of misassessment, of absent political-military coordination.” Olmert and Peretz are both novices in international and military affairs, but “the degree to which [they] sat, paralyzed, in thrall to the IDF and its chief of General Staff is unthinkable. And yet that was the case.”

Horovitz concludes that Winograd is “a searing indictment of fundamental incompetence at the top.” His strong language is warranted.

Posted by Noah Pollak at May 6, 2007 10:26 AM
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