The Winograd Commission report on the Second Lebanon War has been released, and it’s ugly (although many feel that the part that was made public was not at all ugly enough, since it did not explicitly demand the resignation of the Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert).
The consensus is that the goals of the war were fuzzy, the strategy nonexistent, the preparation poor, the tactics wrong, and that as a result soldiers and civilians died and were wounded for nothing — or less than nothing, since the strategic situation now is worse than before the war.
Here are a pair of snippets from commentary on the report. The articles linked are worth reading in their entirety.
I had fought in war before but had never seen such intensive fire — tracer bullets, rockets, artillery shells — nor been assigned a more horrific detail. My unit was escorting the bodies of Israeli soldiers killed on the last night of the Second Lebanon War, a few hours before the U.N. cease-fire agreement took effect. None of us understood the purpose of this last-minute offensive or, indeed, many of the government’s disastrous decisions during the war. We agreed that the burden of these failures would be borne by our leaders, military and civilians alike.
Now, a year and a half later, veterans of the war are demanding that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accept responsibility for its conduct — or risk unraveling the consensus on which Israel’s survival depends.
Israel has a tradition, that when a major failure occurs – or even a minor but symbolic one – the Prime Minister responsible for that failure resigns. David Ben Gurion resigned when he was not exonerated for his suspected role in the Lavon affair. Golda Meir resigned after the failure of the Yom Kippur war, and Yitzhak Rabin resigned because of a trivial technical violation – his wife had a forbidden $3,000 bank account in the United States. This last seems laughable in view of the major failures of the recent war. The fact that the resignation of Olmert after the war was not automatic is an indication of the real problems in public morality, priorities and values that caused the failure.