Courage Is More Than a WordLast night I watched Arab television-yes we access it here in Israel. I listened as Hassan Nasrallah's recorded statement over Hizballah's Al Manar television, at 20:15 local time, was delivered. There was a brief delay as his talk was translated for me. In summary he said, "Under no circumstances would he accept a multinational force in South Lebanon. He warned the Lebanese prime minister not to give an inch on this issue." There was lots of other words spoken, none worth repeating thereby providing him a further stage on which to perform. He acknowledged that the resolution and any further resolutions would not be considered-he basically informed the world that diplomacy was a non-starter.
I waited for Lebanon's PM Siniora -to no one's surprise he obeyed. This weak administrator of an even weaker government has complied with Hezzbollah-the result is simple to understand-diplomacy is a non-starter.
I turned back to Israeli television and watched intently as our thousands of troops were in their final stages on our northern border. At 10:20 pm, we saw a massive movement of Israeli ground troops and tanks begin to thunder across into Lebanon. The much awaited ground war was beginning. A courageous action was being initiated-the "C" word had returned to Israeli actions.
Yet this was not to be-the Bush administration, stepped back into the operations of a sovereign state and pulled the plug on the ground offensive. Our troops stopped in their tracks, not by our vengeful enemy, but by our number one ally-America. Bush managed to do what no Arab country has ever been able to do, he accomplished something that Nasrallah was not able to do-he forced Israel to retreat behind her borders.
Let us put this into perspective. Let us explain why this was one of the most missed opportunities in our history and it will come back to do great damage to both of our countries. It took courage to develop a large ground offensive, it took even more courage to let it begin. However, no sooner had courage returned, it was abruptly loss or thrown away-people lost their "C" power and today the West lost a huge edge in its battle against radical Islam, i.e., war against terror. True leaders not only possess courage, they actually execute it in the face of unbelievable odds and in the face of growing international complaints. The leaders took the advantage away from Israel by stopping the offensive just as it began. We sarcastically have said time and again that the Palestinians never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Good colleagues and friends, add the USA and Israel to that banter.
We had the enemy on the ropes. Intelligence had reported that Hezzbollah's army was tired, weakened by our attacks. For all intensive purposes we had deprived them of being supplied either with weapons, munitions or new fighters. They spent much of each day under ground. They knew we were coming after them with 40,000 fresh and highly motivated troops. They knew we had learned on the battle field and we had changed our tactics. Worry and concern was finally present. We have been told this by the captured Hezzbollah soldiers.
Furthermore, their leader along with the PM of Lebanon had just told the world that Israel should "bring it on." OK, these are my words, they did say that diplomacy was a non-started. How many times and by how many enemy leaders do we have to be told this until we finally comprehend what is believed by the other side?
The situation is even more disturbing than what I have written thus far. Here is the rest of the not mentioned, yet to be told, story. Leading up to yesterday, 40,000 Israeli citizens were called suddenly to active duty. We tore them away from their normal daily lives to come fight for their country's existence-yes existence. The turn out was 102% soldiers answered their country's call. That's correct, even those not called showed up for active duty. Men within minutes of receiving the phone call, grabbed their gear and found the way north to join their units. They walked away from their jobs in high tech, medicine, laws, education, agriculture, construction to mention but a few professions. They left their wives, their children-they left their comfort zone, they left everything secure in their world. Most did not even get to say goodbye, share a final hug with their loved ones-they simply had to go.
Let me fast forward to what occurred prior to last night. The men turned in their cell phones yesterday afternoon. When asked by their anxious wives/friend/parents where and when they might go, they could not provide an answer-the army required a blackout. We understand but it is not easy to accept; thus the families and friends were now part of the 40,000 soldiers facing the unknown. Yet not one I know, including friends and families, would say or act in a contrary manner to the assignment the soldiers were soon to embark upon. Those of us left to watch and listen do not even know the number of the unit the men are in; this too, must remain a secret. All we can do is wait, watch and pray for their safety.
These men and their families possess courage and they act in accordance with this courage. The men prepared themselves for battle. They prepped their weapons, they put on full battle gear, their faces took on the camouflage paint and they listened to their instructions. Each soldier prepared psychologically for this in their own way. Some prayed, some sought solitude, others sat and talked about their civilian lives. Each did what was necessary to get ready to go into harm's way; a nice way to say go into the hell of war. Yet each man did this and the time came to move. The war was about to become real for these reservists and as they began their entry into Lebanon, the word came down to halt the operation.
It was stopped because some people lost their courage. President Bush et al told Olmert to stand down the operation. Olmert and his group lost their courage and stopped the operation. Here is the problem: 40,000 men had psychologically and logistically prepared to fight. Also, 40,000 families had prepared for this fight. Thousands of businesses had made arrangements for this fight. Friends and others in the country were ready to pay an incredible price in order to preserve their country from our enemy committed to wipe us off the face of the planet.
Courage is the state or quality of mind or spirit that enables one to face danger, fear, or vicissitudes with self-possession, confidence, and resolution with the demonstration of bravery. If you believe your are correct and also right, if you believe that your plan is sound, if you do not falter with your thinking, it only takes courage to execute the battle plan. To be persuaded at the last minute that your thinking was flawed and to second guess yourself or worse yet allow other's to do the same, is an example of lack of courage. To possess courage means that you are willing to act upon your convictions not knowing, and not having any guarantees that the desired results will materialize. This allows fear to supercede courage. Fear is to be expected and is normal. Our soldiers were not about to let fear stop them or get in their way of doing what they had to do.
Yet, it seems today that our leaders skipped a beat and allowed their courage to be undermined. We had Hezzbollah "on the ropes". They have been hit hard, they are tired and running low on motivation. We had 40,000 motivated, basically fresh troops ready to take them apart. For once, the West was going to stand up to the enemy, we were going to say to the world, no matter what you yell, no matter how much you cry out, we are going to put a stop to tyranny, brutality and a desire to impose your way of life upon us. Instead we backed down. We gave Hezzbollah, Syria and Iran another victory. We gave Hezzbollah another strategy to use to stop our Israeli army-it is called supplant courage with fear. We missed an incredible opportunity to make a statement-to draw the "line in the sand.'
The action to stop the operation has occurred. I would now only accept full implementation of UN 1559-nothing else will do. The reality is that Hezzbollah and Iran have said they want Israel gone from the earth. They have further stated that diplomacy is a non-starter. We have had 58 plus years of failed diplomacy. We have Palestinian government leaders telling us that thanks to Oslo, the pride and joy of the diplomatic bunch, was the one event that allowed them to start the latest Intifada. So I ask you leaders a question: if you are attacked, if your citizens are maimed and killed, buildings ruined, an economy now in a desperate situation, would you have us allow the invading enemy to continue their attacks or would you defend yourself? The answer is obvious!
I have but a few remaining questions for Mr. Bush and Mr. Olmert: if the operational plan was carefully and thoughtfully developed, if you knew that your enemy's leaders had indicated that continued diplomacy was over, why did you "bail out" on our troops? Did you even consider that the enemy today can fire missiles down onto to our massed troops at the border? Did you lose your courage along with your moral clarity?