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Who Pays the Price of Defeat? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The opponents and supporters of the war in Israel are promising retribution. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert assumed full responsibility for the war because of the huge argument it generated. Will we see similar accountability on the Lebanese side? Will we see the government, the Prime Minister, the Hezbollah secretary general, the Defense Minister, and others held accountable? Despite the promises, the only thing that will happen in Lebanon will be political squabbles, and no official in Lebanon will be held accountable, because the political system does not allow this. In fact, it rewards the more powerful, despite the destruction of the country. The proof is that those who ruined the country during the civil war were rewarded with ministerial positions, and some of them, like General Michel Awn, ran for the presidential office.

In Israel, however, the opponents of the war are demanding the removal of Olmert, because he expanded the scope of the war and caused large human and material losses. The supporters of the war say that he stabbed the army in the back when he accepted a cease-fire before the military could end their mission, thus he hurt them and jeopardized the interests of the country. They did this before in Israel. They removed Ariel Sharon when he served as defense minister following the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the Sabra and Shatila massacre. Less than one year later, they forced Menahem Begin to leave his position and retire from political life for the same reason. They toppled Baraq in 2000 following the escalation in suicide attacks and the failure of the Taba talks. Before that, the Israelis removed Golda Meir following the defeat of the 1973 war, although she was considered a hero in their view before that.

In our region, however, all those who were the cause of the defeats were lifted over the shoulders and slogans were shouted for their long life. They lived for a decade and none of them paid the price–none without exception.

What happened in Lebanon was a great tragedy, whether we call it victory, defeat, or steadfastness. I do not think that anyone will be held accountable. They might win longer time and coerced leadership by employing the propaganda machine to justify what happened as having prevented what could have been worse.

The reason is that the people had no hand in igniting or ending a war. No one takes their opinion when concluding peace or waging war. In short, there is no value to the opinion of the millions of people, even if their lives and their children were exposed to danger.

Although everyone is assuring everyone else that there will be serious accountability after the war, there will only be useless arguments and not a single official would be replaced. Sayyid Nasrallah will not resign, because he is the leader of a party in which there are no elections. Fouad al-Siniora will not resign, because he had no role in the war or the peace. The government will not resign, because it does not want to admit defeat, and even if it admitted, it would not agree to shoulder the responsibility for the adventures of Hezbollah. What is worse, no one will call it a defeat or admit responsibility.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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