Israeli’s were glued to their television screens this evening to hear the findings of the Winograd Commission, which will have far reaching implications for the future of not only Prime Minister Olmert, but the government and military establishment in its entirety. The commission was set up to investigate the failings of the Israeli military and political leadership leading up to and during the Lebanon War in the summer 2006. It was of no surprise that their findings blamed the three major architects of the war: Prime Minister Olmert, the report said, "bears supreme and comprehensive responsibility for the decisions of 'his' government and the operations of the army.”; Defense Minister Peretz, the report concluded "did not have knowledge or experience in military, political or governmental matters. He also did not have good knowledge of the basic principles of using military force to achieve political goals."; and IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz was criticized for engaging in the war "unprepared.” A stinging indictment, to be sure, but not news to many Israelis who remember a similar commission, the Agranat Commission, set up 33 years ago after the failures of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
The Agranat Commission was highly critical of then IDF chief of staff David Elazar and other military and intelligence leaders, but gave a “pass” to Prime Minster Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan -- a finding that is debated and criticized to this day. Although the commission exonerated the Prime Minister and her Defense Minister, both resigned shortly after the report recognizing their complicity in the failures.
The difference today, with the Winograd report, is that their criticism is targeted at the highest levels of political leadership in Israel. If history is any indicator, Peretz and Olmert should begin to sharpen their swords to fall upon. However, for now, they seem safe. The debate about the findings of this report will continue not only for the next few weeks, but for decades to come. Israeli’s need to prepare themselves for what comes next; the choice should not be who leads the country, but rather what kind of country the people want: a country at war with its neighbors or a country at peace. -MSA