Sunday, August 20, 2006


I suppose the time has come to write something about the aftermath. Suffice it to say, I am not happy. I stopped posting during the war out of something like frustration married to depression. There did not seem to be much point in opining while scouring the newspapers to see if any of my friends were included in the casualty lists. Thus far, thank God, only one has been wounded, and not critically. This, of course, included the guilt of feeling glad that none of my friends were killed while other's friends were... War is a schizophrenic experience...

No one here thinks this is over and no one here thinks that the war reached a satisfactory ending. Personally, I feel we were very badly led. Olmert announced goals which he did not have the political will to accomplish. The army relied far too heavily on air power at the beginning of the war and did not move quickly enough to use ground forces. When the army did use ground forces, it did so piecemeal and not in force. More than anything else, the war went on far too long. It should have been finished with overwhelming force and as quickly as possible. This did not happen because of Israel's "Lebanon syndrome", the fear of reinacting the war of 1982 and subsequent occupation. This led to the situation in which Olmert declared military goals which he could not achieve without a massive ground invasion. As a result, he shifted his strategy to a political one. In the end, he accepted a cease fire which is unlikely to hold and has given Hezbollah time to rearm. It also places a UNIFIL force in control of the south which may or may not deal with Hezbollah effectively. If they do, Olmert can claim some kind of a victory. If they do not, and this is the most likely scenario, Olmert will have to face total military and political failure and, of course, another war.

In my opinion, the political leadership is running behind the general sentiment of the Israeli people. The general population was prepared for a major war, including a ground invasion. The leadership miscalculated by believing the opposite: that the Israeli people wanted an effective response that did not include a major ground invasion. In the end, this led to the war being long and costly without achieving any major strategic objectives. The government ended up with the worst of both worlds.

Of course, some diplomatic ground has been gained. Hezbollah has taken the lion's share of the blame for the violence and the "international community" (a dubious collective at best) has taken some measure of responsibility for enforcing its own resolutions regarding the disarmament of Hezbollah. These are all just words, however, and it is likely that Israel will soon have to act, rather than talk, in order to safeguard its national security. I think it is very likely that, when the dust settles, it will likely be a new and more rightwing government which undertakes this task.