Incompetent Ehud Olmert?:

Word from Israel, from both the English-language media and my relatives there, is that folks are very unhappy with various aspects of the cease-fire deal that the U.N. Security Council has just passed, to wit (I haven't seen the final version of the resolution, but this is what I picked up from the media):

(1) The operative U.N. resolution before now, still in force, required all Lebanese armed factions to disarm. The new resolution does not require the Party of God (Hezbollah) to disarm, except below the Litani River.

(2) The new resoultion does not call for the immediate release of the kidnapped soldiers.

(3) The new resolution states that the Shaaba Farms controversy, which provided the Party of God with a pretext to fight Israel by claiming Israel was "occupying" Lebanese land, is to be resolved soon. The old resolution confirmed that Israel had pulled out completely from Lebanon, because according to the U.N. Shaaba Farms, captured from Syria in 1967, was part of Syria, not Lebanon.

(4) The Israeli government had sworn it would not accept U.N. peacekeepers to separate itself from the Party of God. The U.N. itself is incredibly hostile to Israel, and U.N. peacekeepers on Israel's borders have proven themselves to at best be ineffective, and at worst in league with Israel's enemies. The new resolution provides only for U.N. peacekeepers, albeit with some enhanced powers (which they can, theoretically, use as much against Israel as against the Party of God. I wouldn't wager on the more likely target.)

(5) The U.N. resolution calls for the Party of God's fighters to withdraw behind the Litani River. But given that the Party's fighters are nonuniformed and most have day jobs, how can this possibly be enforced?

(6) The resolution puts the issue of Lebanese prisoners in Israel, another POG pretext, and the most prominent of whom are brutal terrorist murderers, on the table.

(7) Is the U.N. and/or the Lebanese government really going to stop Iran and Syria from resupplying the Party of God? Hard to imagine.

All of this seems like strong evidence that the Olmert government is incompetent. So many lives lost, so many wounded, so many displaced, so much political capital used, all for a diplomatic "solution" that seems very likely to lead to another war rather soon, except that U.N. enhanced peacekeepers will be there to interfere with Israel's freedom to act.

But perhaps Olmert has one of two tricks up his sleeve: (1) Once the U.N. resolution is passed and enforced, the Lebanese government will face severe U.S. and French pressure to sign a peace treaty with Israel, which would be a huge blow to the Party of God/Syria/Iran axis; or (2) The U.S. has promised Israel that it will not allow Iran to get nukes, but the price of this is having to agree to this resolution, to retain French support for pressure on, and potentially military action against, Iran.

Perhaps. But meanwhile, the Olmert government looks way beyond its depth, having launched a war [yes, the Party of God provoked it, and Israel had every moral right to escalate] to "finish off" the Party of God that it was not prepared militarily, psychologically, or diplomatically to fully execute.

[I should add that the fact that the Olmert government announced its military moves in advance, giving the Party of God notice to prepare for them, that the squabbling at extremely important and secret cabinet meetings was leaked all over the media, that leading generals were openly questioning the government's strategy, and various politicos were making important public pronouncements well outside their authority (in what other country does the "Justice Minister" announce the government's military strategy?), hardly has created an aura of competence around the government.]

UPDATE: Here is the text of the resolution. I'm running out for the day, but a quick looks suggests that the resolution does call on the Party of God to disarm entirely, but that U.N. forces will only help enforce disarmament below the Litani River. And one more quick note, I've mostly refrained from commenting on Olmert's military strategy; as a law professor, I can speculate on these things, but I don't really know anything about them, nor do I have access to the kind of information that Olmert does. But it did strike me from my ignorant vantage point that going around Party of God fortifications and surrounding from the North made more sense than directly attacking them from the South. According to this interesting article, the IDF did have such a strategy (and more) in mind but it was vetoed by Olmert. Also of interest: the claim that the U.S. gave Israel the go-ahead to go after Syria, even at the potential risk (and potential payoff) of a face-off with Iran, but Olmert rejected this.

FURTHER UPDATE: The IDF is FINALLY airlifting soldiers behind Party of God lines. It is now racing against time to pull a military victory out of what, at best, was a diplomatic draw, if not defeat.

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