Saturday, March 18, 2006
Posted by Daniel Greenfield 2 Comments
He was a Prime Minister in waiting. A man without real military experience replacing a famed war hero whose tragic demise had given him power but his left-wing politics and vaugely slimy exterior hadn't made him too popular. It was election time now and the test of whether he would be able to hold onto power or not. With weak poll numbers he came up with a simple plan, Wag the Dog, a short-term military operation that would boost his standing and credibility on national security and fighting terrorism.
The Prime Minister in question was Shimon Peres but it could just as easily have been Ehud Olmert. In 1996 with a little over a month till the elections, Peres launched 'Operation Grapes of Wrath' pounding Hizbullah positions in Lebanon. In Israel with far less time to go and polls showing his Kadima party losing 10 seats and a public that now percieves him as left of center, Olmert launched his own version of 'Grapes of Wrath' with heavily publicised raids into Palestinian held areas.
The 'Butch Up' that has weak leaders rising and losing soldier's lives to gain a few percentage points in the polls is truly repulsive. It is also disastrous. Grapes of Wrath was a muddle that ended with nothing gained. Olmert's current forays are meant to give him credibility as a strong leader in the mold of Sharon but Olmert's very actions demonstrate otherwise.
For all that Abbas condemns the raid, Abbas endorsed Olmert for Prime Minister. While Olmert puts on a big show of seizing a few terrorists (how long until they're traded at the next change) he transferred 250 million Shekels to Hamas. Olmert's post-election plan is major surrenders of land to Hamas that will enable them to enstablish more strategic shelling positions.
Under Clinton the United States failed to act against Al-Queda but when the polls required it, Clinton would order some bursts of shelling and then go back to ignoring the threat. Olmert's policies are no different. They are intended to grab headlines and gain attention but not to address the war that Israel now faces, in part due to his own actions in pushing the surrender of Gaza.
The 'Butch Up' school of warfare is meant to compensate for the public perception of a leader's weakness, yet instead it only emphasizes it. A genuine leader pursues a planned strategic campaign against the enemy. A fool and a professional politician like Olmert who spent most of his military career working in a newspaper only pursues the military actions that make him look good. That is not a leader any country at war can afford.