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Speak Softly, Carry a Big Russian?

With elections in mind.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman speaking to Channel 2 News.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman.
Photo Credit: Yossi Zamir / Flash 90

Two weeks ago I wrote this to my mother;

My assessment is that Benjamin Netanyahu is not big enough to do a proper job in Gaza. When I vote in the next elections here in January, I will vote for Avigdor Liberman, currently the Foreign Minister, the man the left wing Israeli press loves to demonize. Provided, of course, he has not been indicted for some crime or other. I know the Attorney General has been investigating him for about a dozen years, without getting anywhere, but they’re always right on ‘the verge’ of indicting him. Basically, he’s a gracious man, an émigré from the FSU, who speaks with a heavy Russian accent and doesn’t bother with the ‘speak softly – carry a big stick’ type of diplomacy we’re so used to in the west. Goes more for the Russian, ‘bellow at the survivors – after you’ve beaten the ringleaders to a bloody pulp with the howitzer,’ kind of thing.

Just goes to show what a useless assessor I am, doesn’t it? It’s clear I know nothing about him at all. All I’ve done is delude myself, once again. Listen to this quote:

“I am proud that we have a leadership that can make decisions even when they are contrary to its electoral interests,” Liberman told Channel 2 News about the decision to call a ceasefire in Gaza rather than choosing to launch a ground assault.

“It is obvious that a majority of the population was in favor of continuing the operation,” Liberman added, “but power is not only about hitting but also about holding back… This was not a strategic operation. We explicitly said that there are three goals: stopping the rocket fire, restoring deterrence and destroying Hamas’s stockpiles of long-range Fajr missiles. We achieved all those goals.” (as reported by Elad Benari for Arutz 7)

Liberman says we achieved all three goals, which makes him a liar carrying a very small gummy-bear, indeed.

a.) We didn’t stop Hamas rocket fire, Hamas stopped it.

b.) We did not restore deterrence. There never was any and there isn’t any now. Any quiet is the result of a Hamas tactical decision, not a situation imposed by the IDF.

c.) Finally, we have no clue as to the numbers or location of the long-range Fajr missiles in Hamas’s arsenal. They were still being fired as the ceasefire took effect.

What Liberman is saying is this: “I know things you don’t. The view looks very different looking out of the window in my office. I can’t explain it without revealing classified info and losing my job, so you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that we, in the government, know what’s best for you.”

Nice. Very nice.

What happened is that by the time Mr. Liberman and his colleagues agreed on the inescapable necessity for a ground invasion, and pumped themselves up into a full blown testosterone party, they were undercut by Ehud Barak telling them that we had run out of Tamir anti-missile missiles with which to restock the Iron-Dome batteries. That, were we to invade Gaza, the exchange would turn very sanguinary for us in Israel, leaving Mr. Liberman with nothing to contribute.

In effect, we were a week late.

A week is a long time in politics, too, Mr. Liberman, as you will discover.

We who were watching the debacle unfold knew soon after the third day of hostilities that the war was lost. You missed the opportunity to invade when it presented itself; when it practically prostrated itself in front of you, begging to be taken.

Because you know things we don’t? Somehow I doubt it.

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.

(Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224)

The journalistic piece quoted above ends with the following: Referring to the potential impact the ceasefire may have on the elections, Liberman said: “The public knows exactly what I represent. In this case, the right decision was made, even if it is not popular and against my electoral interests.”

You can say that again, sir, with knobs on.

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