July 12, 2009 Netanyahu's First 100- 3 years From the Start of the Second Lebanon War

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1July09
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A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman

July 12, 2009 Netanyahu's First 100- 3 years From the Start of the Second Lebanon War

This past few days have been days of limited reflection in Israel. First, the end of last week marked the end of the "first hundred days" of the new Administration. While Israel never had a tradition of looking at the first hundred days as anything special, after all the attention paid to Obama’s first hundred days, it was impossible for Israel to avoid trying to judge Netanyahu's performance as well. The opposition party, Kadima, obviously attacked the Netanyahu government relentlessly for its actions, or lack of actions. The Likud, on the other hand, defended the government's accomplishments. What does seem clear, however, is that the weakness of the government is the weakness of Netanyahu's immediate staff. Even before he took office, pundits were saying Netanyahu needed a strong executive staff. So far, Netanyahu has not had one. Some of Netanyahu's recent reactive actions reflect that lack.

Today was the actual anniversary of the beginning of the Second Lebanon War. Former chief of staff, Dan Halutz, made a rare public appearance, during which, he defended his actions in the war. His basic argument was that his goal was to create a sense of the "Bal bayit hishtagay'a" (meaning the one in charge has literally gone crazy and that that would create a level of deterrence. On some levels he is right. For the past three years the Lebanese Border has been quieter than any time in the last 30 years. It is also very hard for Hezbollah, whose leaders are still living in a bunker, to claim a victory. On the other hand, I just finished reading a short book put out by the US Army Combined Arms Center called " We Were Caught Unprepared: The 2006 Hezbollah–Israeli War" The book lays out, in devastating detail, the mistakes of the war. It details how unprepared the IDF was for the war and how strategy and tactics rarely were in sync. Clearly, Israel’s recent war efforts in Gaza have shown the IDF learned from some of the strategic effects of the war. However, in both cases, Israel failed to achieve the decisive victory the world expected. Israel's inability to achieve that decisive victory has clearly weakened the country.

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