Thursday, August 24, 2006

When grownups are in charge

The emerging conventional wisdom about Israel's military performance in the recent war with Hezbollah is that the Israelis "cocked it up" (to borrow an apt British quip roughly akin to "screwed up royally" here). Leaving aside for a moment the geopolitical implications from this development, what's interesting is that the Israeli military leadership is (1) publicly admiting they made major mistakes and (2) demanding inquiries be made by the Israeli government to prevent the mistakes from being made again. From an AP story today:

In a letter to Israeli fighters, military chief Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz wrote: "Alongside the achievements, the fighting uncovered shortcomings in various areas — logistical, operational and command. We are committed to a thorough, honest, rapid and complete investigation of all the shortcomings and successes."

"Questions will be answered professionally, and everyone will be investigated — from me down to the last soldier," according to the letter, released by the military Thursday.

* * *
While Halutz was owning up to military missteps, the head of the Shin Bet security service was calling the war "a fiasco" in his first public statement on the fighting.

"The north was abandoned, the government systems collapsed there completely," Shin Bet director Yuval Diskin told a closed security forum, according to meeting participants. "There were many failures, and the public sees and understands this. This is not the time to whitewash. The truth must be told. ... Someone has to provide explanations and take responsibility."

My guess is, when the next major war between Israel and Hezbollah breaks out, Israel will be much better prepared, largely because of this capacity for self-criticism and analysis.

Question: do you believe our current Administration or military leadership possesses anywhere near the same capacity as the Israelis when it comes to the Iraq problem?

["I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency." -- V.President Dick Cheney, June 2005]

["It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."-- Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld, February 2003]


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