US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice strikes an eerie resemblance to her predecessor Madeleine Albright these days. Rice's visit to Egypt, where she jumped at the chance to meet with her Syrian counterpart and spoke dreamily of her desire to meet with an Iranian official with direct ties to Iran's dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called to mind Albright's boogie-woogie with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il in the waning days of the Clinton administration.
In Sharm e-Sheikh, Rice is clearly looking for a way to forge a US surrender of Iraq to its nemeses Iran and Syria. So it is that American commanders in Iraq are barred from noting publicly that the Iranian and Syrian governments are directing the war and killing their soldiers.
Rice's embrace of surrender extends to her position on Iran's nuclear weapons program. Rice and her State Department colleagues oppose both striking Iran's nuclear installations and providing assistance to regime opponents inside Iran who seek to overthrow the regime in order to prevent the mullahs from acquiring nuclear weapons. All they want to do is negotiate with the ayatollahs. They have no other policy.
So too, in recent months the US has embraced the Palestinians. Although the speaker of the Palestinian legislature Ahmad Bahar just made a televised appeal to Allah to kill every Jew and American on earth, Rice insists on transferring $59 million in US taxpayer money to the Palestinian security forces. So too, last week the State Department dictated a list of security concessions that Israel must make to the Palestinians over the next eight months regardless of whether the Palestinians themselves cease their attacks on Israel, or for that matter, regardless of whether the Palestinians maintain their commitment to annihilating the Israel and the US.
Rice's shepherding of the US to strategic defeat against the jihadists in the Middle East extends to Africa as well. In Somalia, the US now supports the unity government in spite of the fact that the Al-Qaida-backed Islamic Courts Union is a member of the government.
So too, Rice's embrace of failure extends to Asia where she accepted a nuclear armed North Korea and even agreed to give Pyongyang money.
Rice's uncontested control of US foreign policy is one of the ancillary results of the Second Lebanon War last summer.
Israel was not the only loser in that war. Its stalwart allies in Washington, who battled Rice and her State Department colleagues in support of an Israeli victory, also lost. Those supporters, commonly referred to as the neoconservatives, were led by their chief, President George W. Bush.
The Second Lebanon War placed the true nature of the global jihad in stark relief. By waging a proxy war with Israel through Hizbullah and the Palestinians simultaneously, Iran and Syria demonstrated clearly that the war against Israel is not a unique war, but rather a key battleground of the global jihad whose forces are fighting the US and its allies in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world. More than any war before, the Second Lebanon War demonstrated Israel's vital importance as a US ally. And Israel's decision not to fight that war to victory played a key role in the neoconservatives' defeat by Rice and the Washington establishment.
Today, Israel is immersed in a political maelstrom in the aftermath of Monday's publication of the interim report of the Winograd Committee's investigation of the war. Although it is impossible to know at this juncture how things will pan out, the identities and goals of the competing forces are already clear.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will not leave office voluntarily, and his party and most of his coalition partners will back him in his fight to retain control of the government.
The Labor Party, and the Left in general are trying to reenact their political maneuvers in the wake of the collapse of the peace process at the Camp David Summit in 2000. Those maneuvers kept the Left in power with its peace narrative intact.
As is the case today, in 2000 the public demanded an accounting by the government after its leftist ideology brought about a collapse of the peace process and the onset of the Palestinian terror war. Rather than respect the public's demand, the Left joined forces with then Likud chairman Ariel Sharon to block general elections. Together they placed all the blame for the failure of the Camp David summit on Ehud Barak, and formed a new unity government led jointly by Shimon Peres and Sharon.
Today, as then, the Left seeks to place all the blame for its ideological failure in Lebanon and Gaza on Olmert and to replace him with his deputy Shimon Peres. MK Ami Ayalon, the frontrunner to become the next Labor party chief, stated this outright on Tuesday.
As was the case in 2000, so too today, the Right, led by Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu, is having a hard time figuring out how to force the Knesset to do the people's bidding and call new elections. Today, as then, the Right does not have the votes in Knesset to win a no-confidence vote against the government that would foment new elections.
The Winograd Report is not the cause of the current storm. The current storm is a direct continuation of the public protests which erupted immediately after last summer's war ended so abysmally. It was the formation of the Winograd Committee that suspended those protests. And it was the completion of its interim report that unleashed them again this week.
The Winograd Report's devastating critique of Olmert, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and former IDF chief of General Staff Dan Halutz for their incompetent management of the war is not particularly interesting. In pointing out their failures, the commission's members did not tell us anything we didn't know eight months ago.
Indeed, far from clarifying matters, the report's concentration on the personal failures of the three men serves mainly to strengthen the Left's push to place all the blame for the war's dismal outcome on the personal incompetence of Israel's leaders. This it does by deliberately ignoring the ideological and cognitive failure of the government and the Israeli establishment as a whole. It was this failure that led to the war and to its dismal outcome. In so constructing their inquiry, the Winograd Committee protected the narrative of the Israeli Left from public scrutiny and rejection.
At first glance the report reads like an ideological indictment. The commission wrote that a great portion of the blame for the lack of preparedness of both the government and the IDF was rooted in the belief that "the era of big wars had ended." Yet that belief did not stand on its own. It is rooted in the Left's peace ideology.
This ideology maintains that even if a country is forced to fight a war, the aim of the war is to remain at the starting gate and give the enemy what it wants, not to defeat it. The belief that the era of wars is over stems directly from the Left's ideological commitment to the belief that everyone is a potential negotiating partner.
The report demonstrates that from the outset of the war, it was this view that informed the decisions of both the government and the IDF. The report relates a notable exchange between Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Halutz during the cabinet meeting on July 12 when the decision to go to war was made. Livni asked Halutz, "What is victory?"
Halutz responded, "There is no victory here….What we need to do is to respond with a sufficiently strong reaction that will call the international forces to get involved and to intervene at the proper intervention points in order to place pressure on the right forces." Livni testified before the commission that the next day the Foreign Ministry began preparing position papers setting out the government's preferred end state: foreign forces on the border separating the IDF from an undefeated H
The Winograd Committee members' adherence to the Left's worldview comes across clearly in their praise for UN Security Council Resolution 1701 which set out the conditions for the cease-fire.
The report maintains, "Resolution 1701 and the processes that fostered it reflect some important achievements for Israel. Hizbullah isn't sitting on the border, and its ability to initiate attacks on soldiers or northern communities has been significantly downgraded. It is possible that the decision, and the processes that engendered it, can provide an opening to positive regional developments."
By claiming 1701 an achievement, the Winograd Committee pulled the rug out from under the entire rationale of their criticism of the war. After all, the aim of war is to improve a state's position vis-a-vis its enemy.
If Israel achieved this goal towards Hizbullah through Resolution 1701, then the rest of the report's critique of Olmert, Peretz, Halutz and the rest of the government and military makes little sense. At most they are guilty of bumbling Israel to victory rather than leading us there in an orderly fashion. If 1701 was an achievement, then far from attacking them, the report should be applauding them.
The Winograd Report states repeatedly that the commission was formed due to the public's sense that the war had been lost and its concomitant demand for an accounting by the government. Yet, the public's sense of defeat is borne out by the text of Resolution 1701.
Resolution 1701 places Israel, a sovereign state, on the same level as Hizbullah, an illegal terrorist organization. The resolution gives international legitimacy to Hizbullah's continued existence as an Iranian-run sub-national paramilitary organization in Lebanon. Indeed, it makes no mention of either Syria or Iran in whose service Hizbullah fought and at whose pleasure Hizbullah exists.
The international forces that Israel was so keen to see deployed along the border today serve as a buffer protecting Hizbullah from the IDF and allowing it to redeploy its forces in South Lebanon and rearm without fear of the IDF.
So what comes across most clearly in the Winograd Report is the committee members' desire to ignore the fact that the Second Lebanon War was a war of ideas no less than a war on the battlefield.
Last summer Israel had the opportunity to expose the truth about the nature of the war being fought against it. It had the opportunity to assert itself as a vital ally of the US. It had the chance to defeat the leftist narrative of peace which claims that there is no difference between the IDF and the terror forces attacking Israeli society and so there is no reason to seek to defeat them; and which claims that the war against Israel is not connected to the global jihad.
It is too early to know how the political drama now unfolding in Israel will pan out. But what Rice's current misdirection of the war on all fronts, and the emboldening of Israel's enemies and the forces of global jihad throughout the world show clearly is that last summer Israel lost two wars, not one. And if we wish to win the next war, replacing the government will be insufficient. We also need to dump the leftist narrative of peace which brought us both our current crop of failed leaders, and last summer's defeat.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.