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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Think now before it's too late

In Monday's HaAretz, Ari Shavit urges Ehud Olmert to listen to outgoing National Security Council chairman Giora Eiland and to think things through now before it's too late.
In Eiland's view, therefore, the pattern that is emerging is fascinating: One after another, Israeli prime ministers release the genie from the bottle in the belief that they can tame it, but quickly discover that it is the genie that is taming them. What was thought to be reversible turns out to be irreversible. What was planned as a limited operation becomes comprehensive. The moment the ship leaves the harbor without a compass, without a clear destination and without a proper map of the ocean, the strong currents in the international realm exercise their own will upon it. They mock each Israeli leader in his turn, and sweep his ship into remote and hazardous quarters.

Eiland has an explanation for the repetition of this pattern of foreign policy failure: It is because Israel has no organized strategic management method. There's no system, he says. There is no critical examination of fundamental assumptions. There is no systematic definition of goals and targets. There is too much reliance on intuition. There is a strong tendency toward improvisation and instant solutions. There is no attempt at beginning-to-end planning. The opposite is true: There is great pressure to reach the finish line quickly without wasting precious time on forethought.

And the result? A questionable decision-making process with regard to the definition of the disengagement. A complete lack of decision-making with regard to the declarations on the convergence. A serious foreign policy failure vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear program. The Hamas election surprise and a refusal to confront its significance. A country that is run like a shtetl, not a state. A country where every medium-sized company is managed more responsibly than the state itself.

The conclusion is clear: The basic law of the Israeli-Palestinian jungle is that an Israeli withdrawal does not diminish the conflict, but instead exacerbates it. Since any Israeli withdrawal is interpreted by the Palestinians as surrender, it increases their appetite to obtain additional surrenders. The result is not stability, but violence, which under the conditions of the end of the occupation, is liable to become extreme.
Read the whole thing.


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