Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Israel's Winograd Commission Interim Report

For those looking for validation of one of countless theories built on the presumption that last summer's July War was part of some grander scheme cracked deep within the crevices of the Defence Department, in the U.S., and Israel's Ministry of Defense, this week's Winograd Commission Interim (Partial) Report will prove to be a poor read.

Appointed by the Israeli government in response to growing criticism of that government's handling of the war, the Commission was to "investigate and draw lessons from" the events surrounding Isreal's first officially recognized war since the last time it ventured into its neighbour to the north, 25 years ago. This, their first interim report, "is a detailed examination of the decisions of senior political and military decision-makers concerning the decision to go to war at the wake of the abduction of the two soldiers on the morning of July 12th."

But aside from the screaming headlines the report created, "hasty decision-making, over-ambitious and unrealistic military goals and a lack of understanding of both Lebanon's situation and the state of Israel's army", the report goes on to highlight some serious factors affecting an Israeli political culture raised on a military propaganda machine bread over 30 years ago, and aimed at inflicting a psychological deterrent to any Arab populist aspirations to a military confrontation with the Jewish state. Specifically, the report states:

"On the political-security strategic level, the lack of preparedness was also caused by the failure to update and fully articulate Israel's security strategy doctrine, in the fullest sense of that term, so that it could not serve as a basis for coping comprehensively with all the challenges facing Israel.

This omission made it difficult to devise an immediate proper response to the abduction, because it led to stressing an immediate and sharp military strike. If the response had been derived from a more comprehensive security strategy, it would have been easier to take into account Israel's overall balance of strengths and vulnerabilities, including the preparedness of the civilian population."

In referring to this culture, the Commission correctly addresses Israel's failure to update its perception of, and modus operandi towards, its regional neighbours, ultimately leading to the handicapping of its ability to work towards: a relatively more peaceful - and effective - resolution of the crisis; a demonstration of its preparedness to correctly identify and the address key aspects and characteristics of the dynamics dictating Lebanon's domestic politics - and the regional politics driving some its domestic political participants - in the wake of the monumental events that had swept the country one year earlier; and an opportunity to push for the establishment of a new doctrine built around an Arab (Lebanese included) condemnation of the 'escalation' perpetrated by Hizballah along Lebanon's southern border.

By emphasizing this point, the Commission essentially highlights an opinion this blog has been pushing (parts I and II) since its inception at the height of the war, that of Israel's complete destruction of any possibility of an outcome benefitial to both Israel and Lebanon from the unfortunate events of July 12th, a destruction brought about by the Israeli government's and the IDF's inability to properly adjust to the Middle East of the 21st century. Before concluding, I will leave you with another Commission excerpt worthy of note,

"Consequently, in making the decision to go to war, the government did not consider the whole range of options, including that of continuing the policy of 'containment', or combining political and diplomatic moves with military strikes below the 'escalation level', or military preparations without immediate military action - so as to maintain for Israel the full range of responses to the abduction."
Of course given all this, one question remains unanswered: Hassan Nasrallah, when will you be held accountable before the Lebanese people for your part in the death and destruction that they endured this summer?
For those who are interested, an interesting debate on Hizballah's actions in the ignition of last summer's war is taking place in this comments section. Feel free to jump into the fray!


  1. Anonymous12:18 PM

    Seems he's been reading your blog. "They study their defeat in order to learn from it, unlike Arab states that do not probe, do not ask, do not form inquiry commissions ... as if nothing has happened," He said yesterday

  2. Thanks for the comment Anonymous. I read Nasrallah's remarks and had myself a mini-fit!

    I hope to write a post about it soon but in the meantime, the long-and-short of it is that he is all too happy undercutting Lebanon's democratic/constitutional institutions while he praises Israel's.

    ...more soon, hopefully.


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