“I don’t see how they can survive,” a ranking Knesset member in Olmert’s ruling coalition told the Forward. “Things went terribly wrong, and somebody will have to be held accountable.”
“It feels as though they’re all on drugs,” said a West Bank settler rabbi known for his moderate views. The only question was who would go down first: Olmert, the inexperienced commander in chief? His rookie defense minister, Amir Peretz, the former trade union boss? The war’s main architect, Lieutenant General Dan Halutz?...Even if Halutz is forced out, however, the political leadership — beginning with Olmert and Peretz — can hardly breathe easy. Some of their closest allies now say it was a mistake for Israel to put its fate in the hands of a pair of politicians with no military background. Three formal inquiries have been launched already — by the Defense Ministry, the Knesset and the State Comptroller — and a full-scale judicial commission is considered inevitable.
This is a particularly interesting point. I have to say, when they said they were going to be getting civilian leaders in top posts, I was happy. I thought it was about time that Israel focus on internal problems and issues. I thought it was 'refreshing' that Peretz didn't have a military background- and I loved him when he backed up his campaign promises and cut the defense budget (well, cut it more- as the article points out, Olmert and Peretz basically inherited a bunch of problems from Sharon and Mofaz).
But it turns out, no, Israel isn't super-secure. It's not fighting for its last breath, but, yeah, the army actually is important, and having capable people in charge is important, too.
I still think Israel would be better served by looking beyond security issues. But the latest conflict seems to indicate that it can only have the freedom to deal with these other problems when the security issue is, if not "dealt with", then at least stable. For that, you need guys who are at least militarily capable. I'm not talking a Chief of Staff or an army mucky-muck per se, but at least some experience and ability seems necessary.
It's sad, but true.
P.S. The Forward's point about the Knesset numbers is really good, too- as long as Olmert and Peretz can avoid getting prosecuted, they should be able to survive any challenges from the right. Netanyahu might be able to get some defectors, but 20? I don't know.
On the other hand, I don't know if a situation where the majority of the country wishes the government would collapse but can't make it do so is all that desirable, either. Maybe Olmert and Peretz will use the safe zone the Knesset affords them and actually put it towards something productive to get people back in their corner.