Olmert Faces Pressure To Resign After War Analysis

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert faces new pressure to resign after an extensive investigation into the war in Lebanon last summer accused his administration of incompetence. Olmert has called for a Kadima party conference to address his opposition while the Winograd report gets released this afternoon:

The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, and defence minister, Amir Peretz, faced further calls for their resignation yesterday after leaks of a report into their management of last summer’s Lebanon war which suggests they made a series of errors.
The Winograd report, to be published today, directs strong criticism at the government’s conduct in the first days of the war, according to leaks in the Israeli media yesterday. In particular, Mr Olmert and Mr Peretz are rebuked for not seeking proper consultation and for accepting the army’s recommendations without question. The politicians’ lack of experience in military matters, the report says, meant they accepted the belief of Dan Halutz, the former chief of staff, that the war could be won by air power alone.
The report also criticises Mr Olmert for setting out his war aims – which were broadly to free two captured Israeli soldiers and expel Hizbullah from southern Lebanon – without checking to find if they were attainable. Aides of both men said they had no intention of resigning but the lack of confidence in the politicians may leave them no choice.

For a war of choice, Israel had shockingly poor preparations. The government, according to the Winograd report, had not prepared air raid shelters, despite knowing that Hezbollah would attack primarily with missiles and rockets. Their tanks were not properly fitted to repel anti-tank missiles. Food and other necessities for the IDF had not been sufficiently stocked. The Israelis were unprepared for war in a land of hostility, and that will surprise many Israelis who see no higher role for their government.
The Winograd committee will apparently call Olmert a “failure”, but he hasn’t played out the string yet. In the first place, this is an interim report. The final report will come in July, and it is expected to be even more critical, and in more detail, than the summary being released today. All of Olmert’s opponents, even within Kadima, have an interest in waiting until then to make a move on the Prime Minister. Both Olmert and Peretz have publicly stated that they will not resign their posts, at least not now, and both hope to show dramatic improvements in the deficiencies that Winograd will expose. (Peretz has admitted that he shouldn’t have accepted the position of Defense Minister, and will try to take the Treasury portfolio instead.)
By July, though, Olmert may have no choice. The Winograd committee will recommend sanctions on those who failed in their duty, and as PM, Olmert cannot hope to escape that. Also, the interim report will only focus on the events leading up to the war and the first six days of fighting, while the July final report will be much more wide-ranging. Among the questions will be why Olmert and Peretz did not act more aggressively in the sub-Litani region from the beginning and, hopefully, why they directed the attack against Beirut instead of Damascus, which supplies and supports Hezbollah.
In any case, Olmert is running on fumes, his political fuel exhausted. His opponents, such as Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, aren’t going easy on him as much as they await the most propitious moment to finish him.
UPDATE: Here is the summary of the Winograd report. It appears harsher than analysts expected, and it rakes both Olmert and Peretz over the coals, as well as the Chief of Staff. Here’s the “ouch::

11. The primary responsibility for these serious failings rests with the Prime Minister, the minister of defense and the (outgoing) Chief of Staff. We single out these three because it is likely that had any of them acted better – the decisions in the relevant period and the ways they were made, as well as the outcome of the war, would have been significantly better.

15 thoughts on “Olmert Faces Pressure To Resign After War Analysis”

  1. It’s disturbing that Israel needs to wait for some committee to explain whether the mass bombardment of its cities, the stagnation of its drive into Lebanon, and the self-imposed acceptance of EU “peacekeepers” as Hezbollah bodyguards, is acceptable or not.

  2. In particular, Mr Olmert and Mr Peretz are rebuked for not seeking proper consultation and for accepting the army’s recommendations without question. The politicians’ lack of experience in military matters, the report says, meant they accepted the belief of Dan Halutz, the former chief of staff, that the war could be won by air power alone.
    Holy smokes! Do you mean to say that two elected officials with no military experience actually (gasp!) listened to the chief of staff???
    (rolls eyes)
    With whom should they have consulted? Is it the reports’ contention that Ohlmert and Peretz should have polled every single officer (active and retired, and let’s throw in deceased as well) to see whether they agreed with Halutz?
    Now, if the IDF weren’t prepared for the war as they should have been, whose fault is it? If Ohlmert asked Halutz, and Haltuz said, “No worries, sir! Everything’s under control” then Ohlmert is, IMO, off the hook. He’s the prime minister of Israel, not His Most Jewish Majesty the King of Israel, First Lord of the Army, Admiral General and Defender of the Faith.
    As for having vague war aims, I wasn’t aware that it is the province of the chief executive to lay out strategy and tactics. Rather, he tells his defense chiefs, “I want to accomplish these things”, and it falls to them to figure out how to do it OR to tell him, “Sorry, sir; can’t be done”. (I’m reminded of a story I once read about general staff officers in the Imperial German Army; “The Kaiser put those red stripes on your trousers because you should know when to say ‘No’.”)
    If the chief executive is stupid enough to blunder ahead even after his military experts have told him “no”, then the sin is on his head. Otherwise, it’s on theirs’.
    I thought that Ohlmert didn’t do a good job last summer; he seemed to tentative, too worried about “international opinion” and unwilling to give his army the green light to stomp the hezzbos once and for all. For that, I think he deserves scorn. But it seems to me to be the worst sort of Monday morning quarterbacking to blame him for listening to his chief of staff.

  3. To reiterate, Israel had not fought a major ground action since Lebanon. That’s over twenty years ago, a full generation of officers back. They went to combat with an army whose troops were experienced only in small-scale terrorist defense and an officer corps where advancement depended on peacetime staff performance and not skill in modern maneuver combat. They were in a situation not unlike that of the US Arny during the Cuban Missile Crisis, where the Army leaped into action and basically took a giant dump on its own Corfams.

  4. To reiterate, Israel had not fought a major ground action since Lebanon. That’s over twenty years ago, a full generation of officers back. They went to combat with an army whose troops were experienced only in small-scale terrorist defense and an officer corps where advancement depended on peacetime staff performance and not skill in modern maneuver combat. They were in a situation not unlike that of the US Arny during the Cuban Missile Crisis, where the Army leaped into action and basically took a giant dump on its own Corfams.

  5. Whether or not you feel Olmert is getting a raw deal or not, the fact of the matter is Olmert’s perceived weakness is a threat to Israel’s national security, and he should resign on that alone.
    Israel’s enemies are circling around the blood in the water, and if Olmert is still in charge having been tested and found wanting last summer, then the threat to Israel’s borders increases dramatically, and Hezbollah and Syria will simply launch more attacks.
    A strong PM would greatly deter these attacks. Olmert is no longer effective in the role. He must step down.

  6. The very worst thing about Olmert hanging on to the last is the probability of another conflict. If he is still in-place when it occurs, it will be difficult or impossible to replace him with a more competent war-time leader, at least until far too late.
    Hezbollah is remarkably good about reading the tea-leaves, and will make their next big move before Olmert departs… if they possibly can.
    Just my $.02

  7. When will people learn name-calling never gets ya anywhere. And, here? The ultra-orthodox hate Olmert more than most. Not even a surprise in store. Given that Olmert has more diplomatic experience than just about anyone else, over there. Including Shmon Peres! (Which is why Arik Sharon put him in seat #2.)
    History always takes odd twists and turns. Even for the best of them. And, Olmert? Well, for some reason he chose to play a weak hand? No. I didn’t get it. But he had to form a government. And, it looked like he wanted to really weaking the Likud. Including some who gloamed onto Kadima; as a power play. As the Likud’s opportunities to hold seats, dimmed.
    So, please don’t forget: It’s Israel.
    In Israel the press and the lawyers ALWAYS go after elected officials IN THE OTHER PARTY.
    One way to look at this?
    Arik Sharon also faced “charges.” And, also faced hostile comedians in the press.
    I think this will be read with a grain of salt? But, I don’t know.
    I do know that Olmert, in going in within 32-seconds of the capture of the two injured, and now dead, hostages; had to make DIPLOMATIC MOVES. ANd, he did this by kissing his cheeks together. ANd, blowing FOG.
    The report says “there were no plans.” NOT TRUE!
    The plans were to destroy Lebanon. But first you needed a minimum of 1000 dead Israelis.
    Yes, there was lots of noise. And, discomfort of living “underground.” EXCEPT? Michael Totten was there! And, he commented about staying at a hotel, near the action. And, when the sirens went off NO ONE RAN TO THE BUNKERS!
    You think Israelis don’t know this?
    Yes, the larders were empty! That was the biggest scandal! Men, in the reserves, ordered to the front, going to the warehouses, and finding them EMPTY of arsenal. (Typical. Somebody pocketed money, on supplies that were “missing.”) THAT’S THE SCANDAL. And, it wasn’t Olmert who touched this stuff.
    Why was the IDF “ill-prepared?” THey weren’t! But from the diplomatic stage, they weren’t gonna do the damage. While the global press was stating LIES. The Green Helmet Man was peppering around already dead bodies. For foto-opportunities.
    And, then Condi went to the french.
    Considering the stakes, Olmert, at least, retaliated against Nasrallah, for an over-the-border kidnap.
    And, Olmert, with all the diplomatic pants dancing, still saw to it that Nasrallah captured NO Israeli territory. Though they tried!
    Killed? Mostly cows. (Now? A scared cow is moseying down the street; trying to upset the government.) Not so sure it will be all that successful.
    Another truth? The IDF was trained for two-years, by Arik Sharon, to evacuate the 8000 settlers from gaza.
    This was needed! Because in any war, that involves eygpt, and/or gaza … you want your navy to fire right in. While you deploy your troops on the other side. The religious nudniks? Weren’t in the IDF. Had yeshivas peppered all over; that absorbed the males. And, didn’t even make them educated enough to hold jobs.
    Nah. You won’t read this in Winograd.
    And, yes. There’s a big move now afoot, to get Olmert out. Interestingly enough, the diplomatic inneptness was handled by Livni. And, Winograd says “that report will come in August.”
    If you don’t see politics written all over this; I cannot help you.
    Nor do I know if this will create a storm? Do you know what has to happen to get Olmert out? 61-signatures.
    Well, since Ben Gurion’s “selection of the political process” in Israel, began in 1948, they’ve had something like 29 governments. Few making all the elected years. Most running into headwinds, because that’s the nature of politics.
    Arik Sharon tried to make Israel’s governments more like America’s system. But, so far? The big threat to those who have seats, is that he couldn’t get the ministers elected the way we do HOUSE members. Where each and every district can send “one of their own.”
    In Israel? The lists are owned by the parties.
    And, for some reason, in March, last year; Olmert, duly elected, decided to create a “small government.” With, tada. 61 or 63 ministers. Everybody else? Especially Bibi? And, Likud? Out on their tuchis’s.
    Just politics. And, if the heads are interchangable … Israeli politics is like Barbie Dolls. With tits. And, the heads come off, easily.
    On the other hand? I think many Israelis “get the picture.” And, many, more than most, are not ulta-religious, on the one side. Or commies on the other.
    The economy, over there, is running good.
    And, debating if Lebanon won? Seems pretty pyrhic to me? What with Nasrallah closing down Beirut, so business has not returned to “normal.” And, syria still controlling things from Damascus.
    On the other hand? James Baker gets to lick his lips.
    Oh, yeah. And, the Man Upstairs is also a player.
    Lincoln learned the hard way, that the Man Upstairs dealt blows to the Union, even though Lincoln stayed the course. As well he should have!

  8. Well back when as the Israel-Hezbollah War was raging, I recall saying that Olmert was doomed, and that he deserved to be for massive incompetence. Well maybe not exactly incompetence—- more like terminal tentativeness, and lack of knowledge about DEFENSE MATTERS.
    Now that the report is finally almost finished, so is he. And his Defense Minister, AND his Government. Not precisely in that order perhaps as Peretz may lose his head before Olmert is tossed out the door ,as I expect all available bodies to be tossed out of the lifeboat in a vain attempt to save the failed captain.
    He should have resigned a long time ago and salvaged at least some honour from the debacle. Instead he will now be hounded from office in disgrace, whining all the way about how it was not his fault.
    Well it was. The buck stops at a certain place and if you don’t want to be the one in that place when it stops—- Don’t Go There !! Olmert is a typical ‘modern’ politician, and that is not at all a compliment. Maybe he will write a book like all the rest of that ‘class’ wherein he explains how he did the very best he could and it was just too bad that things did not work out due to the failures of OTHERS.

  9. Doomed, you say?
    Olmert hasn’t been check-mated “by committee.”
    And, Israelis are used to this type of thing.
    Heck, one idiot pulled the plug on a national speech Arik Sharon was giving; because he said it was “political.” At a time Sharon was defending himself. And, his seat.
    Wasn’t check-mate, then, either.
    But, yes, in Israel there are a few with REAL MONEY. And, they seem to be out of sorts?
    When Olmert got elected on March 28, 2006; he set up a government DESIGNED TO KICK LIKUD MINISTERS IN THE BALLS.
    Men kicked in the balls, make these sounds.
    But so far? Whatever Olmert formed still contains 61-signatures. That lets him lead.
    By the way, when you look at Kadima, you’d see that Mofaz, among other “hot shots” from Likud, dropped one disguise, for another. Because Likud was NOT GOING TO GET THE SEATING TO GIVE THEM ALL SEATS IN GOVERNMENT.
    Arik Sharon WANTED to dispense with the “party central.” Where the PARTY picks the ministers; and not the folks “in the districts.”
    Arik Sharon changed Israel’s Constituiton, enough. So that the term of Prime Minister NOW lasts 4 years. It used to be set at 7. (And, was totally disregarded.)
    Why do I think Olmert has a chance to survive?
    Well, he’s been inside Israeli politics for 50 years. And, he’s probably the only one not wearing a knife in his back, thrown by Shimon Peres. (This makes him the Penn & Teller of Magic Acts.)
    The other thing to note?
    Well, what was the IDF doing for the two years the training went through “changes?” Ah. They were preparing to move out the 8000 Jewish squatters in gazoo. (Very necessary. If you look at the area as a battle ground.) Since? Well, the 8000 were shielding the arabs! And, hampering what you could do from the sea. ONE SIDE. And, the land, on the other.
    Bibi, meanwhile, actually ended up with SIX SEATS, because of the 12 chairs, he’s working with Sylvan Shalom. Well, not quite “working.” Working would mean the chairs were inside the couple’s home. And, there’s no “couple” over there. Running things from within the Likud.
    Likud is the money bet. Where the big bucks go to “control” the wealth of the nation.
    And, business over there? Isn’t bad, either. Since the “pull out” came along; Israel’s trade finances are much better, and healthier.
    And, Kadima?
    Oh, boy. What a threat to the “old boy’s network!”
    That’s what you’d learn IF you looked at the way Olmert played his hand. It’s called a “weak gambit.”
    Giving Amir Peretz the “prize” of defense, was done because finance was the “wanted portfolio.” And, nobody would trust a communist over there.
    Again. I don’t get to vote “over there.” I just get to watch. Well? The Man Upstairs watches, too.
    Can this Israeli government fall? Hello. THEY ALL DO! Even Arik Sharon’s first win came crashing down.
    But Arik Sharon is in the hospital. Able to move his hand, to signal things. While the Man Upstairs? WHen he moves he hand you only know by calling what you see “progress.” Or a new day.
    And, none of us live forever.
    I still remember the jerk who pulled the plug on Arik Sharon’s address to the nation. Because he could!
    I also know most people wouldn’t throw lawyers are far as you could toss them.
    And, in Israel? For some reason the lawyers have more powers than the press.
    And, the press is always delivering you to the “latest fad.”
    Sure. Should be interesting to watch how this one plays out.
    Heck, even if Olmert goes; doesn’t mean he’d be speechless! To the contrary. Finally hearing the truth from somebody’s lips would be nice.
    I was thinking that the guy with the pen that could damage stuff, is none other than Tony Blair. With another Wavy. But what do I know?
    Diplomats prefer smacking their cheeks together.
    And, it passes for speech. Somebody should put it to words. Making the sounds of the kazoo taking on meanings. But so far? All you can do is read between the lines. Figure out WHY a particular point of view seems to be “favored.” Or is it just “the flavor of the month?” Considering where it’s coming from? I wouldn’t want to taste it.

  10. The Olmert Report

    Sully flags the official report on the Israeli prime minister’s handling of the war in Lebanon, and notes the obvious parallel, which I’ll leave unspoken:
    “The prime minister made up his mind hastily, despite the fact that no de…

  11. even had he made all the right decisions i believe olmert or any other leader would be in the same position–viewed as incompetent. why? because of the nature of the war they decided to fight. when the rockets started falling they needed to threaten syria–if hezzbollah doesn’t disappear from the border along with the rockets the house of assad is going to instead.
    incidentally, we are in the same predicament in iraq with syria and iran bitch slapping us daily. as long as those regimes exist we have no real chance of victory. bush’s poll numbers are similar to olmert’s for the same reasons.

  12. Mr Neid, where will the troops come to take on Syria and Iran? Our options are limited when most of your of your army is in Iraq.

  13. c d,
    while i don’t expect you to remember chapter and verse of what i have written previously, i have long stated and a google record will support me, that the leaders of iran, syria, hamas, hezzbollah, sudan and al sadr should be cruise missiled on the same night without warning. take out the entire complex they reside in. i am against invading any of those countries. starting civil wars etc i support. without said civil wars the middle east will never transit from the 10th century to the 18th.
    the president stated very clearly that we were in a long time war on terror and the states that sponsor them. well, even the UN admits to the terror sponsored by the states i listed above. in fact forget the UN, find me anyone who disagrees with the statement that the states above sponsor terror. if we are in a war, fight it to win.
    if the leaders that replace the above aren’t any better execute them also. during WWII we would have, had we the chance, killed hitler and any of his generals. the leaders mentioned are the political leaders/generals in this new war. we cannot allow them to continue to sip their lattes and be feted at the UN as they plan on killing more of us. this is a new war that calls for new strategies–not worn out codes of conduct from the 19th century.

  14. Carol_Herman
    Ever hear of brevity? You are writing a book on what should be a post. Olmert is a clown, Peretz is a putz, Livni is vapid and Halutz is a retard. Israel is one of the most corrupt inefficient democracies out there. The Knesset reminds me of what General Lee said about the confederate congress in Richmond, “they sleep all day, chew peanuts, argue and get drunk, while my boys get killed or are starved.”

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