Reading Ehud Barak
By: Caroline B. Glick
The Jerusalem Post | Friday, July 25, 2008
On July 14, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak castigated UN Security Council
Resolution 1701, which set the terms of the cease-fire that ended the 2006 war
between Israel and Iran's Lebanese army Hizbullah, saying, "UN resolution 1701
didn't work, isn't working and won't work." He added, "UN resolution 1701 is a
Resolution 1701 is indeed a failure and
always has been a failure. The resolution is predicated on the false belief that
UNIFIL, the UN force deployed along Lebanon's border with Israel would work
together with the Lebanese army to prevent Hizbullah from rearming and
reasserting its control over Lebanon after the war. Yet, under 1701, Hizbullah
tripled the size of its arsenal of missiles over what it was on the eve of the
2006 war. Hizbullah now has more than 40,000 missiles. That arsenal includes new
long-range missiles capable of reaching Be'er Sheva and Dimona.
Not only has Hizbullah reasserted its
control over southern Lebanon under Resolution 1701, it extended its control
north of the Litani River. Moreover, the military and political power Hizbullah
gained under 1701 paved the way for the group's coup this past May. During its
coup, Hizbullah demonstrated that it is the most powerful military force in the
country. It also exposed the Lebanese military's complicity with its aggression
and collaboration with its fighters.
That event then paved the way for the
Doha agreement between Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and Hizbullah in
June in which Siniora, and the Lebanese democrats he represented, surrendered
control over the country to Hizbullah. The terms of the agreement transferred
control of the Lebanese government from Siniora's democratic cadres to
Hizbullah's Iranian overlords by giving Hizbullah veto power over the
Barak's acknowledgment of 1701's failure
to curb Hizbullah's emergence as the master of Lebanon and as an unprecedented
threat to Israel was the first time an Israeli cabinet member publicly
acknowledged the resolution's failure. Notably, he made the statement two days
before Israel collectively acknowledged Hizbullah as the victor in the Second
Lebanon War by returning arch-murderer Samir Kuntar, five fellow Hizbullah
terrorists and 200 bodies of Lebanese and Palestinian terrorists to Lebanon in
exchange for the mangled corpses of IDF hostages Eldad Regev and Ehud
Goldwasser, whose murder by Hizbullah on July 12, 2006, precipitated the war.
Unfortunately, in making his statement,
Barak's aim was apparently political rather than substantive. He didn't offer
any suggestions of how Israel should treat the Hizbullah threat that has emerged
under UNIFIL's firmly closed eyes. Barak decision to point out 1701's obvious
failure was nothing more than a bid to distance himself from Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni ahead of what he sees as the inevitable
downfall of the government as a consequence of the multiple criminal probes now
being carried out against Olmert.
For the past two years, both Olmert and
Livni have upheld Resolution 1701 as an unvarnished success. They have
studiously refused to acknowledge that UNIFIL has done nothing to prevent
Hizbullah from rearming or reasserting its military control over southern
Lebanon. To the contrary, they have stubbornly clung to the false view that
UNIFIL and the international community can be counted on to fight Hizbullah for
Israel. Each time another report comes out about Hizbullah's rearmament, all
Olmert and Livni will do is sent another letter of protest to the UN.
The government's continued insistence
that the international community will protect Israel from Hizbullah was most
recently exposed in the Foreign Ministry's press release the day the
corpses-for-murderers swap was carried out. The Foreign Ministry proclaimed,
"Hizbullah persists in defying the international community….The international
community must act with determination to remove this manifest threat to the
civilians of both Israel and Lebanon."
Olmert and Livni have two reasons to
persist with their fiction that Resolution 1701 is a strategic achievement for
Israel. First, if they admit it has failed, they will be forced to acknowledge
their personal incompetence in embracing – and in Livni's case taking credit for
writing -- a resolution that facilitated Hizbullah's takeover of Lebanon.
Beyond that, both Olmert and Livni
advocate the establishment of a similar international force for Gaza, Judea and
Samaria. If they admit that international forces are incapable of securing
Israel's border with Lebanon, they will be compelled to acknowledge that
international forces cannot be trusted to secure Israel's border with Gaza, or
any future borders with Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem. Since this would call
into question the wisdom of their entire plan of establishing a Palestinian
state, they cannot admit that resolution 1701 has failed.
It is unsurprising that Barak chose not
to point out the policy implications of 1701's failure. Barak after all shares
Livni's and Olmert's unwarranted faith in the international community's
willingness to defend Israel so that Israel won't have to defend itself.
During his premiership, Barak justified
his decision to withdraw all Israeli forces from South Lebanon and surrender
Israel's former security zone to Hizbullah by arguing that UNIFIL forces would
fill the security vacuum Israel's withdrawal precipitated. Then too, he supports
deploying foreign forces on the Golan Heights following a hypothetical Israeli
withdrawal, as well as in a post-Israeli-withdrawal Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem
Given Barak's alignment with Olmert and
Livni, Barak's sole goal in noting 1701's failure was to distance himself from
Livni and Olmert ahead of the murderers-for-corpses swap that took place two
days after his press conference. Barak wanted to draw attention to the fact that
he was out of power during the war with Hizbullah so that he wouldn't share the
blame with Livni and Olmert for Israel's defeat in that conflict.
Barak felt the need to distinguish
himself from his colleagues because by supporting the prisoners-for-corpses
swap, he became a full partner in that defeat.
This last point was driven home by
Hizbullah chief of operations in south Lebanon Nabil Kaouk. In the aftermath of
the murderers-for-corpses swap, Kaouk declared that the swap was "an official
admission of Israel's defeat." The day after the swap, a poll of Arab countries
showed that Hizbullah chief and Iranian servant Hassan Nasrallah is the most
popular leader in the Arab world.
All of this brings us to those elections
that Barak is apparently certain Israel is about to have. Barak clearly believes
Olmert will not run in those elections. Aside from Likud leader Binyamin
Netanyahu, Barak's main opponent will be Livni, whose reputation is wrapped up
with Resolution 1701.
Barak's self-interested, cynical refusal
to point out the policy implications of 1701's failure makes him substantively
indistinguishable from Livni just as his support for the corpses-for-prisoners
swap makes him as culpable for Israel's defeat at the hands of Iran's Arab
foreign legion in Lebanon as Livni and Olmert.
If, when Barak's expected elections do
take place, the Israeli public merely rejects leaders it feels are responsible
for the country's defeat in Lebanon but continues to accept the strategy of
depending on the kindness of strangers that led to that defeat, the country will
not have taken any concrete steps to contend with the dangers it faces.
Unless new leaders reject the failed
strategies upheld by Israel's current leaders, Israel will be unable to take the
necessary steps to defend itself against the burgeoning threats that have arisen
as a consequence of Olmert's, Livni's and Barak's incompetence and
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