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Friday, August 11, 2006

Can victory still be snatched from the jaws of defeat?

I think all of you realize that for all intents and purposes, Israel has lost this war. No, Hezbullah did not succeed in driving the Jews into the sea; in fact, other than the initial kidnapping, it didn't succeed in crossing the border. And, subject to the limits to the patience and bravery of our northern brethren, they won't succeed in driving us out of the Galilee or the Golan with rockets anytime soon either.

But Hezbullah won because they survived for a month against the strongest army in the region. Never mind that the IDF's battle plan was castrated by Ehud Olmert in the first days of the war. Never mind that Olmert forced Chief of Staff Dan Halutz to insert someone 'above' northern commander Udi Adam to make sure that Adam didn't try to win the war. Never mind that everyone in the army who was a fighter - from then-Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon on down - was replaced because they opposed the surrender of the Gaza Strip and the expulsion of its Jews, because they knew what the results would be. Never mind that Olmert hasn't let the army use its air power sufficiently or efficiently, and that he has forced the IDF command to risk ground troops' lives in missions that are riskier than they had to be. The bottom line is that by the only objective measure - goals v. accomplishments - the IDF has accomplished neither of the goals that it set out to accomplish: Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev are still being held prisoner by Hezbullah if they are alive at all. And Hezbullah continues to be a potent armed force on our nothern border.

So why am I asking whether victory can still be snatched from the jaws of defeat? Remember Abba Eban's famous quip about how the 'Palestinians' never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity? Well, the quote wasn't just about the 'Palestinians.' It was about the Arabs generally, and Eban made the comment on December 21, 1973 after the Geneva peace conference with the Arab countries, in the aftermath of the disasterous Yom Kippur War. Lebanon may be about to make the same mistake.

You see, all of what I wrote above assumes that the war is over. Yes, the war has gone miserably up to now for all the reasons I cited above, but remember for the cease fire hudna resolution to work, Lebanon has to go along with it. And as of now, Lebanon isn't agreeing to go along with it, because they object to its being adopted under Article VII, which would give the 'international force' (or the 'beefed up UNIFIL' in the interim) the power to use force to carry it out. The headlines of an 'imminent solution' are gone (although HaAretz and YNet are both still reporting that a vote will take place in the Security Council today or tomorrow).

Israel also has objections to the resolution: it wants a resolution that calls for the unconditional release of Goldwasser and Regev (which Lebanon will certainly never agree to in an Article VII resolution - imagine the 'international force' fighting Hezbullah to rescue them), and it does not want to deal with Shaba Farms as part of this resolution. It also wants to leave its forces in place until the 'international force' arrives on the scene; the latest draft calls for a gradual withdrawal of Israeli forces to be replaced by Lebanese forces together with a 'beefed up' UNIFIL. But I hope you will forgive me if I don't take my own country's objections seriously. I don't believe that Olmert has the manhood to insist on Israel's basic requirements for this resolution. I believe that we are dependent on the Lebanese to remain true to Arab form and miss the opportunity to miss an opportunity. And by the way, the army is furious about this.

The US and France are each still talking about each going forward with a separate resolution if the talks between them fail. You can bet that each of those resolutions would draw a veto - France's from the US, and the US's from Russia and/or China. Russia says they are disgusted with all of the dithering, and they want to introduce a resolution calling for a 'humanitarian cease fire' of 72 hours - a move US ambassador John Bolton called 'unhelpful.' If the US and France cannot agree on a resolution, then all bets are off.

This is now our only hope - that Lebanon raises enough objections to bring about the failure of the US and France to agree on a resolution. Even then, Olmert would have to find the manhood to let the army go in and do what has to be done. All of which makes the use of "the C word," which I noted yesterday, a little less far-fetched .

And in case you didn't hear yet, another 140 rockets fell on northern Israel yesterday....


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