Five for fighting
Five lessons can be learned from today's report on Israel's war with Lebanon. In the interest of avoiding another conflict, we should take them to heart.
The Israeli Winograd Committee Report on last summer's Lebanon war was published today, and it presents Israel with something of a Blackadder moment. During the first world war series one of the recruits tells Captain Blackadder he had wanted to see how a war was fought badly, to which the Rowan Atkinson character replies: "Well, you are in the right place then. A war hasn't been fought this badly since Oluf, king of the Vikings, ordered 1,000 helmets with the horns facing down."
The 150-page interim report (which rather annoyingly contains no executive summary) describes a litany of mistakes leading up to and during the war, from logistics and planning, to preparedness, strategy and lack of options considered. The report is interim because it ends at day six of the war (in the good old days, they only used to last that long), with the final document, up to and including day 34, due in the summer. There is plenty of blame to go around and it is doled out in generous helpings to virtually every part of Israel's political and military establishment. Prime minister Olmert's management of the war is described as a "severe failure" and the media in Israel will discuss little else in the coming days.
Here are five comments that try to look beyond the immediate speculation.