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Israel Misses Ariel Sharon

On Saturday I quickly commented after reading Ralph Peters' observation that the Israeli government had made a complete mess of its prosecution of the war that this would not have happened had Ariel Sharon still been Israel's Prime Minister.

From a historical standpoint it is interesting to watch the many ripples from Sharon's unnecessary stroke and its impact on the future of Israel and the Mideast.

I really wonder whether Hezbullah, Syria or Iran would have been so cavalier about escalating the situation vis-a-vis Israel with Sharon in charge of the IDF. I don't think it is an overstatement to say that the original Hezbullah provocation would likely never have occurred.

Israel's enemies may have hated Sharon, but they feared and respected him. Peace through strength.

Second, had the same Hezbollah attack occurred, I suspect Sharon would have not equivocated in directing Israel's response.

A very seasoned friend of RCP, who thoroughly understands Israeli security concerns, U.S.-Israeli relations and the Mideast landscape writes:

It is hard not to conclude that for Israel, the war has gone badly. Several times the IDF prepared for a major ground offensive, then pulled back. Hizbollah is well armed and well trained, but they are only a few thousand fighters. Olmert and Peretz had never run a war, and it showed. The media war would be lost regardless of what Israel did, due to the biases of many in the international press, and how Hezbollah threatens journalists in their territory. But the real war had to be won, in the sense that Hezbollah was forced out of southern Lebanon. It wasn't.

Israel would have absorbed serious casualties fighting Hezbollah on the ground once reserves were called up (which normally takes 72 hours), since Hezbollah was well dug in. But in a month, they should have chopped them up. For too long, Israel relied on air power, and it was not enough. I think the US conceded on the UN resolution, in part, because we thought Olmert could not get the job done, and a long inconclusive war was not in our interests (nor Israel's, with war costs over $5 billion and counting, and over 100 IDF dead). Recriminations are beginning in Israel over Olmert's leadership.

I think Sharon would have moved in ground forces in large numbers quickly, and with air superiority, Israel would have prevailed. This was amateur hour and gives many bad signals to Israel's enemies, who are as committed to its destruction today, as they ever were, and better armed. The war has shown how vulnerable Israel is to rocket and missile fire, so borders, and walls mean less. Inevitably the rockets will get more accurate, longer range, and more lethal.

My guess is that the government of Lebanon will be unable to win compliance from Hezbollah to disarm, in Southern Lebanon or elsewhere. Why would they, or their sponsor in Teheran, agree voluntarily to, in effect, force themselves out of business. So this war is only round one, I think.
The issue of how to deal with Iran's soon to be completed nuclear program now looms larger than ever.

In another email, he reiterated that "Sharon would have gotten the job done. This was amateur hour."

I suspect the Olmert government will fall.