Leadership, in war and diplomacy [archive]

Uri Dan died Sunday morning. This article is a reprint of one of his many articles articles written for The Jerusalem Post.

uri dan 88 298 (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
uri dan 88 298
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Uri Dan died Sunday morning. We reprint here one of the hundreds of columns he wrote for The Jerusalem Post. It was originally published on August 10, 2006 - a critical moment in the recent war in Lebanon. Though he will be remembered as the journalist closest to Ariel Sharon, his career as a military correspondent spanned the nation's history, and the insights - and passion - he shared in his opinion column drew on that rich experience. His sharp journalistic eye will be missed. This is the first war waged by Israel during which at least part of the cabinet is talking as if it hopes an imposed cease-fire agreement will end the war. But the writing - in blood and fire - is on the wall. Our national future hangs in the balance. It is entirely possible we will not get another chance to defend ourselves. I pray that my pessimism is mistaken. In every previous war Israel did its best to fight up to the last moment, up to the cease-fires that were forced on it. That is what David Ben-Gurion did in the War of Independence; what Moshe Dayan as chief of staff did in the Sinai Campaign of 1956; and what Yitzhak Rabin as chief of staff and Dayan as minister of defense did in 1967. The purpose of cease-fire agreements dictated by the superpowers was usually to rob Israel of its achievements in war before the enemy could be totally defeated. I SAW this happening again on the sixth day of the first week of the first war in Lebanon - in June 1982. I flew, together with Ariel Sharon, from Lebanon (I was serving as his media adviser at the time) to a meeting at prime minister Menachem Begin's residence, where his ministers had gathered. Ronald Reagan had demanded an immediate cease-fire, since the IDF had almost reached the gates of Beirut. For the next nine weeks Sharon and Begin waged both the war and the diplomacy, until the goals of Operation Peace for Galilee were achieved - a halt to Katyusha fire on Galilee, the shattering of the PLO reign of terror in Lebanon, and the expulsion of Yasser Arafat from Beirut. Perhaps now Begin's and Sharon's political opponents may be willing to appreciate the leadership displayed by these two men, who refused to agree to a cease-fire until the IDF had finished what it came to do in Lebanon. How pathetic, in comparison, that today some cabinet ministers appear like beggars on the street - pledging that they will allow the IDF to advance north to the Litani River "only if no diplomatic solution can be found." IT IS legitimate to level criticism at the IDF for mistakes that have come to light in the way the war is being waged. But one thing is clear: Our soldiers are demonstrating great sacrifice and capability during this cruel war, while over a million Israeli civilians are courageously withstanding the daily barrages of rockets that have turned the home-front into the front line. It is clear to anyone with eyes in his head that the politicians giving the IDF its orders are at least two or three sizes smaller than the kind of leadership needed to wage this war until a decisive outcome is reached. Many people fear, with some apparent justification, that the politicians may not be giving the IDF the right orders. It is not enough to throw the responsibility on the army by saying, "We gave the IDF the authorization to do whatever it has proposed." The question is, what instructions have they given the IDF? What leadership are they providing? The whole world can see how an Islamo-fascist terrorist force, run partly from Teheran, has been trying to destroy the land promised to the Jews and holy to Christians. If we do not rise up against all the attempts to dictate a cease-fire, next time Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will not even need to launch a nuclear bomb against us; it will be enough just to threaten its use. NEVER SINCE 1948 have the majority of Jews in Israel and abroad been so united on the need to win. Never has there been a president like George W. Bush, so willing to give support to Israel in its existential war. It is doubtful if Israel will again be able to mobilize all its soldiers and its home front to fight - at any price - a war if, in its blindness, our Left drags the Jewish state to a new 21st-century Masada. One just has to read the delusional drivel produced by Israel's "literary elite" - A.B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz and David Grossman. True, they write, the war in Lebanon is justified - but we must stop it immediately. We have to talk, explains the daydreaming Yehoshua. We must extricate Hizbullah from the madness of suicide. Yehoshua and his ilk do not learn anything from history. That is how they sold us on the idea that Arafat was a "peace partner" - and it is what they are doing now with Hizbullah. These intellectuals - who would have the Jewish state commit suicide - pose a real danger. Their views should be discarded. I have this to say to the government: If you do not bomb Hizbullah to kingdom come now, you will have lost the right to blame the allies of World War II for not bombing Auschwitz.