Thursday, January 18, 2007
Halutz Down, Peretz and Olmert Remain the Two To Go
Corrupt political structures are like a medieval fortress with layers of fortifications protecting the interior, exterior fortifications are sacrificed to protect the interior.
The first response of Olmert to the Lebanon disaster was to begin tossing out scapegoats that had nothing to do with the issue by creating phony sex scandals aimed at President Katsav and Justice Minister Haim Ramon. The scandal against the President, who had never been an ally of Olmert and Ramon who remained a rival to Olmert's ally, Defense Minister Amir Peretz was pushed as far as it could go. As a tactic it failed and is now mostly out of sight.
The next tactic of Olmert was to try and move on and hope the public forgot what had happened. Vaguely conciliatory statements were made opposing unilateral withdrawal combined with rolling over prone for Rice's peace proposals. This didn't work either.
With the outer defenses breached, it was time to begin sacrificing the people who actually were responsible for the disaster. The outer layer is always the military which has the least political influence and the most accountability. The ground had been prepared for this by leaking Halutz's stock options buy early in the game, sending the message that he would be the first to go. While Halutz initially played games stating that he was "taking responsibility by remaining in office", which was initially Nixon's idea of taking responsibility as well, now Halutz is gone.
Halutz was the first of three figures. The second and next on the list will be Peretz, who is already under siege and the Labor Party has all but been handed over to Barak. The first and last is Ehud Olmert himself, around whom the investigations are beginning to deepen. A lot of major political players staked their political fortunes on Kadima and they're not about to let Olmert drag them and their new party down with him. Sharon might have managed to hold on, but it is altogether likely that the political and most especially the business interests behind the scenes will decide that Kadima needs a new ruler and then Olmert will go the way of Halutz as has Peretz before him.
This should not be met with any particular rejoicing though because what we are fighting is not an individual or individuals but a corrupt political culture that has seized power with a death grip and is destroying the country. There will be replacements found for Olmert and Peretz all too easily and more political generals will be found from the old boys club. Replacing Olmert with another Olmert is no victory. (No more than replacing Olmert with Avigdor Lieberman or Ehud Barak) Only reforming its leadership can change and save the nation.
And so the game of twelve little indians goes on.