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
Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Pajamas Media BlogRoll Member


"I'm flattered such an excellent writer links to my stuff"
Johann Hari
Author of God Save the Queen?

Andrew Sullivan
Author of Virtually Normal

"Brisk, bracing, sharp and thoughtful"
James Lileks
Author of The Gallery of Regrettable Food

"A hard-headed liberal who thinks and writes superbly"
Roger L. Simon
Author of Director's Cut

"Lively, vivid, and smart"
James Howard Kunstler
Author of The Geography of Nowhere

Contact Me

Send email to michaeltotten001 at gmail dot com

News Feeds


Link to Michael J. Totten with the logo button


Tip Jar


Terror and Liberalism
Paul Berman, The American Prospect

The Men Who Would Be Orwell
Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer

Looking the World in the Eye
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

In the Eigth Circle of Thieves
E.L. Doctorow, The Nation

Against Rationalization
Christopher Hitchens, The Nation

The Wall
Yossi Klein Halevi, The New Republic

Jihad Versus McWorld
Benjamin Barber, The Atlantic Monthly

The Sunshine Warrior
Bill Keller, The New York Times Magazine

Power and Weakness
Robert Kagan, Policy Review

The Coming Anarchy
Robert D. Kaplan, The Atlantic Monthly

England Your England
George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn