The person in charge
The 2006 Lebanon war was conducted under the management of Dan Halutz as Chief of Staff. Olmert was relatively new to his position and the minister of Defense was an incompetent functionary. Today, things are different. Leading the military campaign is Gabi Ashkenazi. It is interesting to learn about him that:
"In early 2005, Israeli commentators speculated that Ashkenazi might be appointed Chief of Staff. However, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz chose former Israeli Air Force Commander Dan Halutz instead. Haaretz speculated that Sharon might have rejected Ashkenazi because of the General's moderate political views".
His moderation can be considered in this context:
"Appointed IDF Deputy Chief of Staff in 2002, Ashkenazi was considered the most moderate member of the Israeli General Staff during the al-Aqsa Intifada, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz. When Israel began to construct a West Bank barrier in order to physically separate Israeli and Palestinian communities with the purpose of preventing terrorist attacks within Israel, Ashkenazi was placed in charge of the project. He advocated building the barrier as close to the Green Line as possible, a position which would minimize the effects of the barrier on Palestinians. The General also "objected to aggressive acts against the Palestinians" during the Intifada and once described his "greatest fear" for the IDF as "the loss of humanity [of Israeli soldiers] because of the ongoing warfare."
I think it is important that at the helm of the military machine that is the IDF, with its sophisticated weapons and nimble command of instruments of death, there be a man who cares about the health of his soldiers' souls and hearts, besides preparing them to be hardy warriors.
Ashkenazi grew up in Moshav Hagor, in the Sharon region of Central Israel. His father is a Bulgarian Jew and his mother is a Syrian Jew. He holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Haifa and is a graduate of a Harvard Business School program in management.
The people in charge of Israel's present armed confrontation are Ehud Olmert, who learned one or two lessons from the Lebanon war, Ehud Barak as Defense Minister, who has been negotiating with Palestinians from up close and personal for decades now, and the relatively unknown Ashkenazi. I can safely assume that the decision to attack Gaza was not taken lightly by these battle weary Israeli leaders. They know what the stakes are.
"Civilization is not self-supporting. It is artificial. If you are not prepared to concern yourself with the upholding of civilization -- you are done." (Ortega y Gasset)
Monday, December 29, 2008
The person in charge