Thursday, August 17, 2006

August 17, 2006 Cease-fire Day 4

August 17, 2006 Cease-fire Day 4

The generals are battling it out in the press. The politicians taking potshots at whoever is in their line of fire. The public is relieved and confused. One year, perhaps, the true story of this war will be told. How it really started, who was behind it, what were the reasons? Was it simply the new Prime Minister Ehud Olmert showing the world that he wasn’t going to let anyone push Israel around while he was in charge? Was it a strategy of start a little fight in hopes someone would break it up? Was it the Chief of Staff restraining the neophyte Prime Minister and Defense Minister knowing that the Israeli Army was ill prepared for the war?

The mere fact that Defense Minister Amir Peretz admitted that no one had told him that the possibility of Hezbollah firing missiles on Israel was on the agenda only reinforces the idea that he was ill chosen for his job. Whoever advised him to admit this ignorance did him no favors. The Minister of Defense should know who Israel’s enemies are, and be prepared to defend the country against them. That’s what ‘defense’ means.

It will long be a mystery why Peretz was chosen for that task. He tried, but didn’t have the tools, like a six-year old lifting a 200-pound barbell. Did Olmert know how unprepared Peretz was for the job; or was he just as unprepared? Did Halutz know the air force couldn’t do the job; or was their military intelligence lacking in his decision-making process as well?

In some ways this may turn out to be like 9/11; lots of people in various agencies had the facts, but never shared them with anyone else. At least not with enough people to make an adequate judgment. Perhaps former PM Sharon knew the lack of Israel’s fighting prowess when he traded soldiers for Hezbollah fighters in Israeli jails rather than fighting again in Lebanon.

Ari Shavit, a leading Haaretz correspondent, extols the glories of the Israeli people for their stead-fastness, their strength, their courage under fire, both the civilians and the soldiers. The chorus singing the Israeli people’s praises was made up of everyone who could join the festival. Shavit then turned to the leaders of Israel and how they were lucky the country was made up of such strong people; people, he said, who deserved better leadership.

The Lebanese army is moving into the south. Five brigades, about 15,000 men. According to some sources 180 villages will be no entry zones for the Lebanese Army. There the Hezbollah will be free to keep their arms, and ammunition. Hezbollah will not be disarmed. This contravenes the UN mandate, but UNIFIL has said it has no intention of confronting Hezbollah. In any case, reports coming in attest to the fact that Hezbollah fighters simply fade into the crowd as the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL forces arrive in the villages. These forces allow more and more Israeli soldiers to leave Lebanon, yet again. Pundits agree that paramount is the speedy evacuation of Israeli soldiers so as not to leave targets for the Hezbollah to shoot at.

No one expects this cease-fire to last forever. Perhaps it will last long enough for Israel to get all the anti-missile systems they need in place. Perhaps Israel will build a bubble, a geodesic dome right out of Buckminster Fuller’s playbook that protects all of Israel that bounces missiles back where they came from. Wouldn’t that be nice?