Today’s NY Times bears the rather remarkable news that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was not notified in advance by the IDF command that it would be conducting a raid in Ramallah on the same day as his talks with Hosni Mubarak:
Mr. Olmert’s aides said he had not been informed of the raid in advance and was angry about what had happened.
And according to the Jerusalem Post, Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh didn’t even inform his nominal civilian boss, Amir Peretz, the defense minister:
According to reports, Naveh did not inform Defense Minister Amir Peretz of the raid before it was carried out.
All this could mean many things. First, the IDF may have the cabinet’s approval to conduct such raids without first notifying the civilian echelon. Such a process would be foolhardy in my opinion and guarantee more disasters of this kind in future.
Or the IDF may deliberately be poking its finger in the politicians’ eyes by leaving them out of the loop. This too would be disastrous since it would indicate that the IDF may flaunt its independence with impunity. Essentially, it would mean there is no one exercising any control over the IDF. How can a democracy afford such an extravagance? Imagine if Douglas MacArthur could’ve run an end around on Truman during the Korean War. We could’ve had Chinese troops overrunning the entire Korean peninsula and tens of thousands of U.S. troops trapped there. Not to mention the possibility of a nuclear attack either from China or its ally Comrade Stalin.
Or it could mean that the politicians are lying to cover their asses and save themselves from the embarrassment of having to admit to a foreign leader (Mubarak) that they didn’t know what the hell their army was doing.
Whatever the cause or reason, this incident indicates the utter dysfunction of the current government. I don’t know what’s worse–the army that can’t shoot straight or the Keystone Cops cabinet ministers who appear to be bumbling incompetent fools. They can’t manage their way out of a paper bag.
All of which has brought Israel to the unlikely place of having MKs denouncing an IDF operation within hours of its completion. OF course, there have been MKs who have denounced IDF policy. But I can’t remember an incident in which it happened so quickly after the fact. In the old days, such a thing would never have happened. The IDF was a sacred cow incapable of being criticized. But one indication of the weakness of this government and of the IDF is that there is no longer a taboo against slamming the nation’s armed forces. In a way, this is a good thing since no army should be above reproof. But it is also a bad thing in that it shows how far off course the IDF has come. When the IDF makes its own security policy without civilian oversight and the politicians never buy into such policy, this is a recipe for national disaster, which is precisely what we now see happening.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.