September 14, 2006

Former Top General Demands Resignation...

Hatched by Dafydd

...Of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Army Chief of Staff Dan Halutz. (Did you think I was talking about Donald Rumsfeld? Tsk-tsk!)

According to an interview in Haaretz, former Army Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon has demanded the resignations because of their scandalous handling of the brief war against Hezbollah:

Does the prime minister have to resign?

"Yes. He can't say he didn't know. He can't say that. Even if he was not an army person in the past and was not prime minister or defense minister, he knows how one goes to war. This is not the way to go to war. And he knows how a war is managed. This is not the way a war is managed.

Going to war was scandalous, and he is directly responsible for that. The war's management was a failure, and he is responsible for that. The final operation was particularly problematic, and he was directly involved in that. He was warned and did not heed the warnings. Therefore, he must resign."

The "bombshell" demand is actually not as momentous as it would ordinarily be; Ya'alon was Chief of Staff from 2002 until June 1st, 2005 -- when Olmert relieved him of command and installed his own man in the job: Dan Halutz.

But until that moment, Halutz had been Ya'alon's Deputy Chief of Staff; and I'm sure Ya'alon feels betrayed, believing, and not without good reason, that Halutz was probably working assiduously that whole time to undermine Ya'alon. Ya'alon has no cause to love either Halutz or Olmert.

In addition, although Lt.Gen. Moshe Ya'alon still (weakly) denies being interested in politics, many Israeli sources have cited him as the likely pick for Defense Minister in a possible second Benjamin Netanyahu government, or any other Likud government. So he does have a political agenda.

But having an agenda doesn't itself make one wrong; Winston Churchill had an agenda for many years to make Britain strong enough to resist the Nazis -- and thank goodness such an agenda-driven man became British prime minister!

Here is Ya'alon's bill of particulars against Halutz:

"The chief of staff failed in the management of the war. He gave the political echelon the feeling that he had the capability, which in practice he did not have, to bring about a political achievement by means of an extremely aggressive military operation.

"He entered the war without defining it as a war, and maybe without understanding that it was a war. He did not understand the implications of the measures he himself adopted. He did not mobilize the reserves in time, and did not open the emergency depots in time, and did not activate the high-command base.

"He managed the war from his office. He imposed missions such as Bint Jbail without any discussion and without consulting with the command about the consequences and implications. He created lack of clarity that rattled the forces in the field, caused a loss of trust and generated chaos. He did not give the commanders in the North backing. He did not build a structure that would help him overcome his weakness in the land sphere. He managed the campaign arrogantly and shallowly."

This doubtless raises a nagging question in your minds. Readers probably recall that I am adamant that Donald Rumsfeld remain as Secretary of Defense, despite the fact that a former Commander in Chief of CENTCOM, Gen. Anthony Zinni, demands his resignation. What's the difference between the two cases?

The difference is that Zinni was wrong and Ya'alon is right. In the actual warfighting, Rumsfeld did fine; we conquered the Taliban and deposed Saddam at astonishing speed and with virtually no casualties. And he is finally undertaking the Herculean labor of reforming our grand military strategy so that we can stop refighting World War II (which we've done five times since 1945) and finally begin confronting 3rd-millennium threats by looking forward, not back over our shoulders.

All the angst of Zinni and his yes-men centers on the post-Saddam insurgency and terrorist war; but in that war, Rumsfeld is trying to do what no one has ever done: impose modern democracy and self-sufficiency upon a tribal people who are, in many ways, still living in the demon-haunted world of the seventh century.

Zinni's pronunciamentos notwithstanding, nobody else has any better ideas than Rumsfeld about how to carry out the Commander in Chief's orders: turn Iraq into a reasonable facsimile of a modern liberal democracy... just enough so that it will not become a safe harbor for al-Qaeda and other terrorists in the forseeable future. Given the breadth and sheer audacity of the task, Donald Rumsfeld is doing extraordinarily well indeed. Anyone who smugly asserts he could do it better than the secretary is just blowing hot air through his hat.

Contrariwise, the war that Israel fought was as conventional as could be: their task was to invade neighboring Lebanon, drive the Hezbollah guerillas across the Litani River (and preferably out of Lebanon entirely), kill as many as they could and disarm the rest, and hunt for the two kidnapped soldiers.

But Halutz, Defense Minister Amir Peretz (who also comes in for some fisticuffs from Lt. Gen. Ya'alon), and Olmert failed at each of these tasks save one (they did kill a lot of terrorists); they were only saved from ruination by the fact that Hezbollah was even more incompetent than Israel.

So I applaud Ya'alon's "j'accuse" in Haaretz, I dismiss as nonsensical Zinni's and other Democrats' foot-stamping demand that Rumsfeld resign, and I here demonstrate that there is absolutely no contradiction between those two positions.

So there.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 14, 2006, at the time of 4:17 PM

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The following hissed in response by: SDN

And he is finally undertaking the Herculean labor of reforming our grand military strategy so that we can stop refighting World War II (which we've done five times since 1945)

The problem, Dafydd, is that we haven't done it even once. For example, if we had fought Vietnam like WWII, our first act would have been to use the B-52s to level any city over say 25,000 (see Dresden, Tokyo fire raids). A 100% effective air and sea blockade would have been imposed, and finally, we would have invaded and killed a healthy size chunk of the population from 12 on up that even looked dangerous. Or do you really think any of the Hitler Youth were given free shots just because they were 12?

Until we rediscover the capability to make war as it should be, we can expect nothing else but futile casualties and inconclusive combat (see Fallujah, or Lebanon).

The above hissed in response by: SDN [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 15, 2006 4:51 AM

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