Thursday, August 10, 2006

You Can't Say That Olmert Didn't Warn Us

"Israel's response will be restrained but very, very, very painful"
Prime Minister Olmert

We've seen all along that Israel's response has been restrained--we just assumed that Olmert meant that it was Hezbollah that would be feeling the pain.

Israel Matzav refers to an article at Israel Insider that really is, as he points out, a must read.
It is a must read for what is going wrong with the war in Lebanon.
It is a must read for what is going wrong in the Israeli government.
It is a must read for the consequences of the attitude, expressed by Olmert himself:
We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies, we want that we will be able to live in an entirely different environment of relations with our enemies.
Bottom line, according to Israel Insider, the IDF had a plan to defeat Hezbollah and it was not put into effect. There was a plan to move decisively, to move forcefully--but also stragegically--to outmaneuver Hezbollah and Nasrallah.
This plan was supposed to have begun with a surprise air onslaught against the Hezbollah high command in Beirut, before they would have had time to relocate to their underground bunkers. This was to have been followed immediately by large scale airborne and seaborne landing operations, in order to get several divisions on the Litani River line, enabling them to outflank Hezbollah's "Maginot line" in southern Lebanon. This would have surprised Hezbollah, which would have had to come out of its fortifications and confront the IDF in the open, in order to avoid being isolated, hunted down and eventually starved into a humiliating submission.
Instead, Olmert nixed the latter half of the plan--plus only southern Lebanon was attacked instead of Beirut. The results of Olmert's castration of the IDF plan?

In terms of the war itself:
The decision to not bomb Beirut immediately enabled Nasrallah to escape, first to his bunker, subsequently to the Iranian embassy in Beirut.

The decision to cancel the landings on the Litani River and authorize a very limited call up of reserves forced the ground forces to fight under very adverse conditions. Instead of outflanking a heavily fortified area with overwhelming forcers, they had to attack from the direction most expected, with insufficient forces. The result, high casualties and modest achievements.
In terms of Israeli leadership:
According to informed sources, there is an almost total breakdown in trust and confidence between the General Staff and the PM's office. They have described the situation as "even worse than the crises that followed Ben Gurion's decision to disband the Palmach, and Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan's cynical decision to place all the blame for the Yom Kippur fiasco on the IDF's shoulders.
On a larger scale, Olmert's determination to aim for a limited war will also affect Israel's relationship with the US in the long run as well. According to Israel Insider, Israel was given the green light to bring the war to Syria as well. Naturally, in line with his smaller focus, Olmert nixed that idea. One can argue that in light of Syria's involvement in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the US interests in the region that it was up to the US to follow through and take aggressive action against Syria--but the fact remains that Israel had an opportunity at the time to help restore a measure of stability to the region in general and Lebanon in particular.
The scenario was that Syria, no military match for Israel, would face a rapid defeat, forcing it to run to Iran, with which it has a defense pact, to come to aid.

Iran, which would be significantly contained by the defeat of its sole ally in the region, would have found itself maneuvered between a rock and a hard place. If it chose to honor its commitment to Syria, it would face a war with Israel and the US, both with military capabilities far superior to Iran's. If Teheran opted to default on its commitment to Damascus, it would be construed by the entire region, including the restless Iranian population, as a conspicuous show of weakness by the regime. Fascist regimes such as that of the ayatollahs cannot easily afford to show that kind of weakness.
We've quoted before from this article at IMRA:
Weaker Israel: Election marks shift in counterterror alliance with U.S.

The United States has harbored mixed feelings for Olmert and his
predecessor, Sharon. President Bush has been pleased with Israel's
willingness to cooperate with the U ited States on virtually every major
issue, including Iraq, the Palestinians and arms exports.

At the same time, Bush and some of his aides have been quietly concerned
over the image of Israel as a country ready to withdraw in the face of
terrorism. Privately, leading aides and strategists believe that Israel's
hesitancy to fight Hamas, Hizbullah and other terrorist groups could
encourage Al Qaida and those sworn to defeat the United States. They also
see Israel's failure to defeat Palestinian insurgents as encouraging Iran's

...Bush's attitude toward Israel has changed as well. Until 2002, Bush saw
Israel has a powerful ally of the United States and able to deter its
enemies. Today, the president sees Israel as weak and Bush has publicly
pledged to protect the Jewish state from an Iranian attack.

..."The feeling in both the administration and among belatedly among many
conservatives in Congress is that Israel has to accept the fate of a small
nation reliant on a superpower patron," a leading U.S. analyst who is close
to the administration said.
The fact is that Israel's importance to the US is not merely based on the fact that it is the only democracy in the Mideast--the US is not interested in forming a Glee Club--rather the US is interested in those countries that can forward her own interests and needs. Israel had a tremendous opportunity to do this and blew it, with consequences for herself, for the US, for the Mideast and for the West.

Israel Matzav mentions in passing that the Israel Insider mentions the army using the C-word.
I thought he was referring to the word coward.
He wasn't.

This war is no longer about achieving victory.
It is about rescuing it.

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