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The Knife in the Back

By       Message Uri Avnery     Permalink
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THE DAY after the war will be the Day of the Long Knives.

Everybody will blame everybody else. The politicians will blame each other. The generals will blame each other. The politicians will blame the generals. And, most of all, the generals will blame the politicians.

Always, in every country and after every war, when the generals fail, the "knife in the back" legend raises its head. If only the politicians had not stopped the army just when it was on the point of achieving a glorious, crushing, historic victory...

That's what happened in Germany after World War I, when the legend gave birth to the Nazi movement. That's what happened in America after Vietnam. That's what is going to happen here. The first stirrings can already be felt.

THE SIMPLE truth is that up to now, the 22nd day of the war, not one single military target has been reached. The same army that took just six days to rout three big Arab armies in 1967 has not succeeded in overcoming a small "terrorist organization" in a time span that is already longer than the momentous Yom Kippur War. Then, the army succeeded in just 20 days in turning a stunning defeat at the beginning into a resounding military victory at the end.

In order to create an image of achievement, military spokesmen asserted yesterday that "we have succeeded in killing 200 (or 300, or 400, who is counting?) of the 1000 fighters of Hizbullah." The assertion that the entire terrifying Hizbullah consisted of one thousand fighters speaks for itself.

According to correspondents, President Bush is frustrated. The Israeli army has not "delivered the goods". Bush sent them into war believing that the powerful army, equipped with the most advanced American arms, will "finish the job" in a few days. It was supposed to eliminate Hizbullah, turn Lebanon over to the stooges of the US, weaken Iran and perhaps also open the way to "regime change" in Syria. No wonder that Bush is angry.

Ehud Olmert is even more furious. He went to war in high spirits and with a light heart, because the Air Force generals had promised to destroy Hizbullah and their rockets within a few days. Now he is stuck in the mud, and no victory in sight.
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AS USUAL with us, at the termination of the fighting (and possibly even before) the War of the Generals will start. The front lines are already emerging.

The commanders of the land army blame the Chief-of-Staff and the power-intoxicated Air Force, who promised to achieve victory all by themselves. To bomb, bomb and bomb, destroy roads, bridges, residential quarters and villages, and - finito!

The followers of the Chief-of-Staff and the other Air Force generals will blame the land forces, and especially Northern Command. Their spokesmen in the media already declare that this command is full of inept officers, who have been shunted there because the North seemed a backwater while the real action was going on in the South (Gaza) and the Center (West Bank).

There are already insinuations that the Chief of Northern Command, General Udi Adam, was appointed to his job only in homage to his father, General Kuti Adam, who was killed in the First Lebanon War.

THE MUTUAL accusations are all quite right. This war is plastered with military failures - in the air, on land and on the sea.
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They are rooted in the terrible arrogance in which we were brought up and which has become a part of our national character. It is even more typical of the army, and reaches its climax in the Air Force.

For years we have told each other that we have the most-most-most army in the world. We have convinced not only ourselves, but also Bush and the entire world. After all, we did win an astounding victory in six days in 1967. As a result, when this time the army did not win a huge victory in six days, everybody was astounded. Why, what happened?

One of the declared aims of this war was the rehabilitation of the Israeli army's deterrence power. That really has not happened.

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