May 1, 2007

Advantage, Israel

This blog is no particular fan of Israel, a country highly overrated by its supporters, if unfairly demonized by some of its detractors.

The present Israeli government is generally thought to be incompetent, and managed to bungle the mini-war it fought in Lebanon last summer.

One difference between Israel and its foes, however, is that at least among Israeli Jews, open debate and discussion is permitted and encouraged. Thus the errors in the war led to the appointment of a commission, which has had very unkind things to say about the leadership, including the Prime Minister.

It now appears that it is only a matter of time before the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister are replaced, as has the military commander. Perhaps it will be a case of throwing the rascals out and replacing them with new rascals, but the odds are some things will be learned, first about the war, and second, about the consequences of incompetence.

Hezobllah's leader, Nasrallah, miscalculated and a third of his irregulars were killed, his stocks of arms depleted, the neighborhoods and villages where his supporters lived, destroyed, and his territory occupied by foreigners, many of them infidels. If there has been a word of discussion, it hasn't reached the Western press or blogs. Much the same was true of Egypt's Nasser, who let the Arabs into their greatest defeat in 1967. He was acclaimed as a hero.

Victor Hanson has pointed to the relative openness of criticism as one characteristic of Western armies that gives them an advantage. Let us hope that there will be a frank discussion in this country about what went wrong with our misadventure in the Middle East--and not just a blame game against the neocons and "Chimphitler,"but a searching reappraisal of where our true interests lie and what we need both to do and to avoid to protect them.

I'm not holding my breath.

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