Monday, May 08, 2006
Peretz, the Socialist/Unionist-leaning leader of Israel's Labor Party, has practically no experience in Defense issues and no interest either, having campaigned for Prime Minister on a purely economic, social-welfare platform. In a campaign interview with the Jerusalem Post last year Peretz denied any interest whatsoever in defense matters, insisting they should instead be delegated to experts so that serious politicians like himself could remain free to focus on funding soup kitchens instead:
At a time when Hamas is knocking on Israel's door and Iran appears to be closing in on its much anticipated nuclear map-wiper, it is quite disturbing to many in the defense establishment -- and elsewhere -- that Peretz of all people will be the new Defense Minister.
Yet asked what kind of military response he, our would-be prime minister, would order to the post-disengagement rocket fire across the Gaza border, Peretz asserts that these are matters for the army's uniformed top brass rather than a politician like himself. "I don't think these types of questions," he says, "should involve politicians. Give the army the tools they request."
Fair enough, perhaps, if Peretz thought I was asking a very specific question about, say, particular targets or a choice of missiles or shells.
But he then elaborates, in an unmistakable departure from the typical mind-set of serving and potential Israeli premiers: "The focus of governments," he says, "should not be about the defense establishment." [...]
"There is a tradition that the prime minister in Israel should be a military man, who then appoints professional people to the areas of finance and social affairs," Peretz notes. "I say the opposite. The prime minister should be a social general and he should appoint [expert] people in the area of defense. It works my way in most of the world."
However, the Jerusalem Post seeks to allay our fears, reporting that the IDF is taking steps to rapidly bring Peretz up to speed on all the new concepts he needs to know:
My sources (all anonymous and all located inside my own head so don't bother trying to find them) tell me that these booklets are actually more on the level of short, simplified comic books. The 6 volume set, which Peretz will expect to digest in a matter of a week or less, includes helpful explanatory military classics like:
The IDF Planning Directorate has spent the last few weeks preparing booklets on every branch of the military for him to study.
- The Navy: Think boats. Water. Things like that.
- Air Force: Planes and stuff, not very useful for evacuating settlements.
- Infantry: They need money to pay for guns, food and shoes -- a Socialist Defense Minister's specialty.
- Tank Corps: Like cars, only bigger and with gigantic guns sticking out the windshield.
- Special Forces: Not "special" like those Olympics, and no, they don't need mainstreaming.
- Planning Directorate: Nothing for you to worry about, ignore it, just sign the checks.