A large part of the operation was carried out by reserve soldiers, who were hastily called up. When the reservists arrived at their bases, they found the permanent emergency stores empty of many essential war materials. Being uniformed civilians, they complained loudly. Clearly, the army command had neglected the stores for years. The same with training -- many reserve troops had not been through their annual training exercises for years.
When the fire eventually stopped, the achievements of the Israeli army amounted to nothing. A few Lebanese villages right next to the border were conquered, and had to be left again.
THIS TIME, the failures could not be covered up. A civilian Commission of Inquiry was set up. It condemned the leadership. Peretz and Halutz had to resign, Olmert was indicted for corruption soon after and had to resign, too.
From the Israeli government's point of view, Lebanon II did yield some achievements.
Since then until now the Lebanon-Israel border has been comparatively quiet. If there had been any discernible war aim at all, it was to terrorize the Lebanese civilian population by widespread destruction and killing. This was indeed achieved. Hassan Nasrallah, the outstanding Hezbollah leader (who was appointed after his much less able predecessor was "eliminated" by the Israeli army in a "targeted killing") publicly admitted with unusual candor that he would not have ordered the prisoner-taking action if he had foreseen that it would result in a war.
However, listening to the three Israeli leaders in the TV stories, one is struck by the glaring incompetence of all three. They started a war in which hundreds of Israelis and Lebanese were killed and houses destroyed without a valid reason, conducted a war without a clear plan, took decisions without the necessary knowledge. Speaking on TV, they showed very little respect for each other.
An Israeli, listening to these testimonies, is compelled to ask himself or herself: is this true for all our wars, past and future? Has this only been covered up until now by censorship and silent agreement?
And the much larger question: has this not been true for most wars in history, from ancient Egypt and Greece until now? We know already that World War I, with its millions of victims, was ignited by political idiots and conducted by military incompetents.
Is humanity condemned to suffer this forever? Is this all that we Israelis can look forward to, another few wars conducted by the same kind of politicians and generals?
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