They Must All Go

The government’s failures during the Second Lebanon War should rightfully lead to new elections.


By Moshe Arens

(A version of this column appeared in Haaretz on May 10, 2007.)


In the present tumultuous political atmosphere, there is one thing that everyone seems to agree on – that the interim report of the Winograd Committee be implemented as quickly as possible. Our ability to deal adequately with dangers that may confront us depends on that move. Even Ehud Olmert, the central figure in the report, agrees. But just what does it mean to implement the conclusions of the Winograd report? And just who is best suited to carry out this important task?

Nobody in his right mind can take seriously the theory propounded by Olmert and his spokesmen – a theory for which there is no parallel in organization or management theory – that those who committed the major errors are best suited to take the necessary corrective action. Any organization that adopts this outlandish theory will quickly atrophy and be overtaken by its rivals. Moreover, in the case of the need to implement the conclusions of the Winograd report it is a contradiction in terms. The report charges Olmert with “a serious failure as it relates to the use of judgment, responsibility, and caution.” Olmert himself can hardly be expected to take the corrective measures needed in this case. Obviously, the correction needed is placing at the head of the government somebody from whom we can expect good judgment, responsibility and caution.

But this conclusion is not limited to the prime minister. It applies to the defense minister, and, as pointed out by the Winograd Committee, also to the whole Olmert government, which assented to the mistaken decisions taken during the Second Lebanon War. And although the Winograd Committee pointed out that many ministers did not know and understand what they were approving, this most certainly was not true of the “inner seven” who discussed and approved all important decisions. Implementation of the conclusions of the Winograd interim report inevitably means they must all go.

It may not be surprising that among those who clamored for implementation of the Winograd report are some who are taken aback by the potential political fallout from a resignation of the Olmert government and subsequent elections. They may not say it out loud, but on examining the public opinion polls, they may, on second thought, prefer to stick with the present government, or one with slight modifications, and thus not implementing the most important conclusion of the Winograd Committee. In other words, they believe there are more important considerations than implementing the report. Hopefully, this is a minority view, because if adopted, it would mean essentially not implementing the Winograd report and proceeding along a very dangerous path.

The government’s failures during the Second Lebanon War should rightfully lead to new elections. That conclusion should prevail over all other considerations, some of which in normal times might seem quite appropriate, like not holding elections too frequently and giving the government a sufficient degree of stability. But stability should not be given to a government that has failed in wartime and has exhibited poor judgment, irresponsible behavior and lack of caution.

Hezbollah, with its armory of thousands of rockets, was a ticking bomb on our doorstep for a long time. Everybody knew it, and everybody should have been aware of it. That these rockets would be launched against Israel in a reply to an Israeli response to any Hezbollah provocation, which was bound to come sooner or later, was highly probable. A wake-up call came for the Olmert government when in June 2006 Hezbollah launched Katyusha rockets into the Galilee. The minor response by the Israel Air Force at that time and the subsequent Israeli claim that the Hezbollah positions had been destroyed was a first indication that this government was mishandling the challenge Hezbollah posed to Israel. Unfortunately, it took the Second Lebanon War and its losses of life and property to bring this home to the citizens of Israel.

Translate »