Small Wars Journal

Behind the Headlines on the Winograd Commission's Interim Report

Tue, 05/29/2007 - 5:08pm
Haninah Levine e-mailed a link to his Center for Defense Information article Behind the Headlines on the Winograd Commission's Interim Report. All translations from Hebrew are by the author.

Here are several excerpts:

In late April, the Winograd Commission, appointed by the Israeli government last September to examine the events of the 2006 Second Lebanon War, published its interim report. Media coverage of the interim report, which is not yet available in English, has focused mostly on the commission's harsh evaluation of the nation's civilian leaders, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz.

The 170-page document offers far more than just a report card on these politicians' performance, however. It examines the behavior of the military, the government, the National Security Council, and even the media and the electorate over a six-year period which begins with Israel's May 2000 withdrawal from southern Lebanon and ends on July 17, 2006, nearly a week into the war. It is both uncompromisingly honest and scrupulously fair, offering a 15-page discussion of "The Principles of Responsibility" and weighing at every turn the balance between individual, collective and institutional responsibility and plain bad luck. (The breadth of the commission's findings reflects its composition, which includes Israel's leading experts on public administration and human and civil rights law alongside two reserve generals.)

Of particular interest to readers in the United States defense community will be the commission's views on the shortcomings of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and its General Staff...

Lesson One: Western militaries are in active denial concerning the limitations of precision weapons...

Lesson Two: There are real consequences to overstretching a military...

Lesson Three: Rhetorical praise for the troops must not interfere with honest assessment of their abilities...

Haninah Levine is a science fellow at the World Security Institute's Center for Defense Information.


SWJ Editors Note: Related Small Wars Council discussion