FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Olmert Comes Undone

So it has come to this. All those bodies, all those photographs of dead children–more than 1,400 cadavers (we are not including the 230 or so Hizbollah fighters and the Israeli soldiers who died)–are to be commemorated with the possible resignation of an Israeli prime minister who knew, and who cared, many Israelis suspect, little about war. Yes, Hizbollah provoked last summer’s folly by capturing two Israeli soldiers on the Lebanese-Israel border, but Israel’s response–so totally out of proportion to the sin–produced another debacle for the Israeli army and, presumably now, for its Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert.

Looking back at this terrifying, futile war, with its grotesque ambitions to “destroy” the Iranian-supported Hizbollah militia, it is incredible Mr Olmert did not realise within days that his grandiose demands would founder. Insisting the two captured Israeli soldiers should be released and the militarily powerless Lebanese government should be held responsible for their capture was never going to produce political or military results favourable to Israel. One would have to add that Tzipi Livni’s demand for the Prime Mnister’s resignation sits oddly with her support for this preposterous war.

A close reading of the interim report of Judge Eliahou Winograd’s report on the summer war–to which Mr Olmert himself only granted the title the “Second Lebanon War” a month after it had happened–shows clearly that it was the Israeli army which ran the military, strategic and political campaign. Again and again in Winograd’s report it is clear that Mr Olmert and his Defence Minister failed to challenge “in a competent way” (in the commission’s devastating phrase) the plans of the Israeli army.

Day after day, for 34 days after 12 July, the Israeli air force systematically destroyed the major infrastructure of Lebanon, repeatedly claiming it was trying to avoid civilian casualties while the world’s press watched its aircraft blasting men, women and children to pieces in Lebanon. Israelis, too, were savagely killed in this war by Hizbollah’s Iranian-provided missiles. But it only proved the Israeli army, famous in legend and song but not in reality, could not protect their own people. Hizbollah fighters were told by their own leadership that if they would just withstand the air attacks, they could bite the Israeli land forces when they invaded.

And bite they did. In the final 24 hours of the war, 30 Israeli soldiers were killed by Hizbollah fighters and their land offensive, so loudly trumpeted by Mr Olmert, came to an end. During the conflict, a Hizbollah missile almost sank an Israeli corvette–it burnt for 24 hours and was towed back to Haifa before it was able to sink–and struck Israel’s top secret military air traffic control centre at Miron. The soldiers captured on the border were never returned–pictures of them, still alive, are flaunted across the border at Israeli troops to this day–and Hizbollah, far from being destroyed, remain as powerful as ever.

And so one of Washington’s last “pro-American” cabinets in the Middle East is now threatened by the very militia which Mr Olmert claimed he could destroy.

ROBERT FISK is a reporter for The Independent and author of Pity the Nation. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s collection, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. Fisk’s new book is The Conquest of the Middle East.

 

More articles by:

Robert Fisk writes for the Independent, where this column originally appeared. 

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Peter Crowley
Outsourcing Still Affects Us: This and AI Worker Displacement Need Not be Inevitable
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
David Yearsley
Bass on Top: the Genius of Paul Chambers
Elliot Sperber
Eddie Spaghetti’s Alphabet
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail