Analysis: Winograd - the moment of truth

Did Olmert send soldiers to their deaths in vain?

olmert worried 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
olmert worried 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Faced with challenges from Gaza to Iran, Israel cannot afford a situation where the people lose faith in their leadership. The Winograd Report will determine whether this government retains that public trust, or not. If yes, the government will limp along. But if not - if the thrust of the report is that Olmert approved an action that sent soldiers to their deaths in vain - it is just a matter of time before this government will be swept from power. No government in this country, where everyone has someone in the army, can last if the public senses that it sent soldiers to die for no good reason. Now, finally, the people will be able to decide. Eighteen months after the Winograd Committee began deliberations, after hearing hundreds of hours of testimony and writing one highly critical interim report, the committee that investigated the waging of the Second Lebanon War will at long last issue its conclusions next week. It is highly improbable that the five-member panel will call on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to step down. Rather, it is expected to focus on that final ground surge on August 12, 2006 - as the UN Security Council was deliberating the resolution that would end the war - that led to the deaths of 33 IDF soldiers. Was this action good or bad, responsible or reckless, justified or not? It is the tone of the conclusions that will determine whether Olmert will carry on leading this country. The people will decide by their actions. They will decide by their demonstrations. Despite the cynicism of the public, the political establishment here is not immune to public outcry and protest. The Four Mothers movement of the late 1990s, which led to the withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 - a withdrawal the Winograd Committee may very well determine was in error - is an example of how protest can impact policy. Olmert is banking on the people deciding that he acted reasonably in difficult circumstances; that his motivations were not tainted by ulterior political considerations. See Herb Keinon's full analysis in this week's Features section