Friday, August 11, 2006

Olmert Should Resign

I call this photo, which I have used in the past, "Olmert Dukakis." It was Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who, ignoring the advice of his general staff, chose to put off an infantry offensive in Lebanon for over a month, trying to make do with air strikes and limited and ultimately futile infantry incursions. The result was to dissipate the the initially strong diplomatic support of the U.S. and to allow world opinion to mobilize against Israel as a direct result of its air campaign. After finally realizing that his limited war strategy would not work, Olmert and his security cabinet finally authorized the long-delayed massive infantry offensive, only to almost immediately put the attack "on hold", to await the outcome of ongoing diplomatic efforts. I thought to myself, "If Olmert is willing to accept a ceasefire now, and leave Hezbollah in the south with its rockets, accomplishing nothing after all this loss of life, property and fortune on both sides, he should resign." Now I find that Ari Shavit, in Haaretz, beat me to the punch. Also, more people probably (probably?) read his columns. HT to Yoni.

Now, having waited out the diplomatic process, just when the UN Security Council is about to actually to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire, Olmert apparently is going to reject the resolution and proceed with the infantry offensive, putting Israel at direct odds with the current diplomatic efforts of the U.S., its strongest (practically only) ally and supplier of arms. More from Yoni on that here.

Perhaps I am being unfair, since I damned Olmert when he did not attack, and now I am damning him when he does. But timing in war can be everything, and Olmert's timing has been disastrous for Israel. The likely result of his passive-aggressive, Hamlet-like indecision is that Hezbollah will remain in southern Lebanon, more popular than ever, its stores of rockets quickly restored by Syria and Iran, recruits flocking to its hateful yellow and green banner, the toast of the Arab world for having fought Israel to a standstill for over a month. (Of course, the fact that the IDF was not allowed by its civilian leadership to properly apply its strength to the effort will be ignored and forgotten.) For all but the most hardy souls, the north of Israel will be uninhabitable, because few of its residents will want to return to live under the constant threat of Hezbollah rockets, a threat that the government of Israel, through its tragic misconduct of the war, will have seemingly proven itself impotent to remove. Since Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran and Syria will have not given up their overarching objective, the elimination of Israel, the ultimate result will be a bigger and bloodier war.

UPDATE: Israeli PM endorses U.N. cease-fire deal. The following sentence from the news story says it all: "Only six hours passed from an initial decision by Olmert to broaden the ground offensive to his acceptance of the cease-fire deal. The zigzag reflected Israel's dilemma after a month of inconclusive fighting."


Anonymous FredTownWard said...

I have to agree that Olmert botched this about as thoroughly as is possible, which is particularly damning give how much support the Bush Administration was prepared to give him. Given this I cannot muster up any criticism for Bush finally agreeing to a probably useless UN resolution because if the Israelis weren't willing to try and win the war now, we might as well call a halt until they are, which won't be until after the NEXT provocation and probably the election of a new prime minister. 

Posted by FredTownWard

Friday, August 11, 2006 4:00:00 PM  
Blogger George Berryman said...

I can't even begin to describe how disastrous this all is. Hezbollah is far from deterred by this - in fact they will gain strength from it. It's completely tragic, and the cosmic ballet of violence will ultimately continue. 

Posted by George Berryman

Saturday, August 12, 2006 1:21:00 AM  

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