At FrontPage Magazine, Michael Widlanski sharply criticizes the Olmert government’s military response to Hezbollah, wondering whether Olmert has “an entry strategy.” As most Power Line readers probably know, I am generally not a fan of the second-guessing of military strategy by journalists, former military types, professors, etc. It’s not just that hindsight is 20-20; it’s also that the second-guessers almost never consider the reasons why the decisionmakers acted as they did and what the consequences of acting differently might have been. Most of them, in short, are largely oblivious to the uncertainties of war and to the concept of trade-offs.
In the case of Israel’s current war, we argued early on in favor of a sizeable ground incursion into south Lebanon. Yet one can understand why the decisionmakers were reluctant to rush headlong into territory that Hezbollah had been preparing for years to defend through unconventional tactics. In my view, the biggest mistake associated with the current situation was made six years ago when Israel decided to leave south Lebanon. But even here, one must recognize the substantial cost that Israel would have incurred had it remained.
Having said all of this, Widlanski’s piece is worth reading in part for its analysis of the current military situation and in part for the insight it provides into the internal politics of the war.