Monday, April 30, 2007

Israel demonstrates how a healthy democracy handles incompetence

Last July, Israel launched a war against Lebanon in retaliation for Hezbollah rocket attacks and the capture of two Israeli soldiers during a skirmish that killed three others.

Launching attacks across the whole country, with the apparent intention of pressuring the Lebanese to act against Hezbollah, they instead predictably united a typically fractious population. The already fragile democracy, which had just rid itself of Syrian occupation, was put teetering off balance and Hezbollah used the opportunity to gain more political power. Condoleeza Rice would eerily be sent to the Lebanese capital to explain why it was OK for Israel to bomb Beirut.

In the end, Israel failed to achieve any of its core objectives. They were unable to dislodge Hezbollah, unable to recover their lost soldiers and unable to end the Katyusha rocket attacks. A month after the war began, it ended.

Only George Bush would claim that Hezbollah lost the battle.

JERUSALEM, April 30 — An Israeli government commission excoriated Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday for “severe failures” in last summer’s war against the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, setting off a furious debate on whether he should remain in office.

The commission accused him of having decided hastily to go to war, neglecting to ask for a detailed military plan, refusing to consult outside the army and setting “over-ambitious and unobtainable goals.”

The commission also sharply criticized the defense minister, Amir Peretz of the Labor Party, whose career is already in tatters, and the chief of staff at the time, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, who has already resigned.

“We single out these three because it is likely that had any of them acted better, the decisions in the relevant period and the ways they were made, as well as the outcome of the war, would have been significantly better,” the report said. But it also made clear that “the prime minister bears supreme and comprehensive responsibility for the decisions of his government and the operations of the army.”

Here's the difference between Israel and the current situation in the United States:

Israel ended the war as soon as it became obvious that their actions were actually making the situation worse.

Israelis put the responsibility for the calamity at the feet of the head of state and his military planners.

The General who led the war resigned.

Ehud Olmert's support has fallen into the single digits.

On the other hand, George Bush can count on a nearly solid backing from his party for a policy most believe doomed to failure, not to mention the unconditional support of about 25-30% of the voters, while editorials expound on the president's right to conduct the war as he sees fit.

And while Tim Russert extracts pledges from Democrats not to impeach George Bush, calls for Ehud Olmert's resignation are nearly universal.

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