Israeli Leaders’ Hollow Rhetoric

Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert informed the nation Sunday night: “Our soldiers will be trained to stand up to the threats confronting us, principally from Iran, and we have already started work.” Already, he said. So what have “we” been doing till now? Handing the Gaza Strip to the Iranian-armed Hamas?
He was addressing a group of his Kadima party followers.
The new star poised to expand the government coalition this week, Israeli Beitenu’s Avigdor Lieberman, added his two bits: “I’m joining he government,” he said “to save Israel from the Iranian nuclear (threat).”
This assertion was clearly aimed at backing up Olmert’s declaration in Moscow that Iran must be given cause for fear. Both statements went down in the country with a hefty pinch of salt, especially when the PM went on to assert, still less convincingly, that time would show “the IDF’s achievements in the Lebanon War to have been real and important.”
Olmert and his pep talk are in good company. President George W. Bush, echoed by British premier Tony Blair, speaks of America’s many achievements in the Iraq War while admitting that changes may be necessary in tactics.
Unlike Olmert, however, neither takes his public for fools. They admit mistakes were made in Iraq which need to be corrected.
To confirm this impression, State Department official Alberto Fernandez was allowed to confess to al Jazeera TV Saturday, Oct. 21, that the world was witnessing failure in Iraq. “That’s not the failure of the United States alone, but it is a disaster for the region,” he said, adding: “I think there is great room for strong criticism because without doubt, there was arrogance and stupidity by the US in Iraq.”
This statement did not come out of the blue. It showed that the Bush administration was fully aware of its errors and the broad criticism it was drawing – a vital first step towards admitting that the Iraq plan demanded rethinking.
In contrast, Olmert continues to keep up the hollow pretense that the decision to go to war against Hizballah unprepared and the decisions he took while it was going on were the product of profound political and military wisdom. His feeble attempts to gloss over Israel’s very real loss of strategic credibility in the region, while using both hands to hold his government together, are exceedingly harmful. Iran, Syria, Hizballah and Hamas, convinced that Israel is daydreaming if not half-asleep, are encouraged to march on to a fresh war as long as the Israeli leaders who got their sums so badly wrong in Lebanon remain firmly in place.
Therefore, shoring up the incumbent government for the long haul – led by the very prime minister, foreign and defense ministers and chief of staff who mismanaged the Lebanon war – could provide Ehud Olmert with stable rule, but also spell calamity for Israel. Lieberman and his big talk will be proven immaterial when the Iranian rockets, launched from Lebanon as recently as July and August, start flying again – this time from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank as well; next the heavy missiles from Tehran and Damascus.

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