If Hezbollah has suffered a major defeat and if, as [Charles] Krauthammer claims, Hezbollah will not attack Israel again, then one can defend Olmert’s decision not to sacrifice the lives of hundreds of additional Israeli soldiers in order to accomplish more.
Dafydd notes, correctly that “there is no conflict between the following two statements: Ehud Olmert is an inept clod who mismanaged the war; nevertheless, Hassan Nasrallah still had his butt handed to him.”
Perhaps my lapse (if any) was less in my logic than in the clarity of my writing. I did not mean to suggest that Olmert could not have bungled even if Hezbollah got much the worse of things, but rather that he may not have bungled under that scenario. In other words, if Israel has made itself safe from future attack (Krauthammer’s contention, with which I do not agree) then it’s possible that Olmert decision not to go into Lebanon harder than he did (a major source of the criticism against him) was the right one since it probably saved many Israeli lives. It’s also possible to argue that the decision still was the wrong one, and that argument beomes particularly forceful if one agrees with Dafydd’s claim that by going in harder Israel could have “obliterated” Hezbollah.
In essence, I’m saying that if Hezbollah didn’t suffer a defeat, then Olmert clearly bungled, and bungled monumentally. If Hezbollah suffered a defeat to the point that it will not attack Israel again, then the issue with respect to Olmert becomes more complicated, such that one at least “can defend” the approach he took.