There are consequences to losing a war, or being perceived not to have won. Israel's ability to win wars has been based on its capacity to pound its many enemies into submission whenever they have dared attack. Depending on how you count them, Israel has been the target of at least four wars started by one or more of her neighbors, as well as numerous terrorist attacks. It had won all of them until 2006.
Last summer, in response to repeated guerrilla assaults by Hezbollah - or Party of God - a militant Lebanese Shia political party, Israel invaded Lebanon, but failed to drive out the terrorist organization, or free two captured Israel soldiers. A committee, appointed to study why Israeli forces were not victorious, blamed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Hezbollah quickly regrouped and has restocked its armaments. Israel's new ambassador to the United States, Sallai Meridor, tells me there could be another war by this summer, probably launched from terrorist positions in Gaza, Lebanon and possibly Syria, which has not directly attacked Israel since it was bloodied in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Meridor says that while Hezbollah is bad, Hamas, the largest and most influential Palestinian militant group, which is entrenched in Gaza, is even worse. That's because Hamas, he says, has more armed terrorists and is stockpiling missiles and explosives. It is also supported by Iran. Hezbollah, which Israel estimates had thousands of short-range missiles when its positions in Lebanon were attacked last summer, is supported by Iran, as well. All share the same objective: the eradication of Israel.
The Winograd Committee report on last summer's war is an indictment of Israel's top leadership, including the prime minister, the minister of defense, Amir Peretz, who has announced he's leaving by the end of the month, and the chief of staff, who also submitted his resignation. "All three made a decisive personal contribution to these decisions and the way in which they were made, (but) there are many others who share responsibility for the mistakes we found in these decisionsŠ" the report says. After specifying the many reasons the government failed to achieve victory, the committee concluded, "All of these add up to a serious failure in exercising judgment, responsibility and prudence."
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni called upon Olmert to resign. He has refused and in a mark of his weakness, Olmert declined to fire Livni, saying they could continue to work together. One is left to wonder how.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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