11 January 2007

Has he changed?

This title of Yoel Marcus' article should have been "Have they changed?", after all he talks about two characters for most of his piece: Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak. But it's a small matter in comparison to this most intriguing question: can that tiger change his stripes?

In democratic countries, politicians who have screwed up big-time rarely, if ever, get a second chance, the way Benjamin Netanyahu did and Ehud Barak would like to. But around here, people come and people go, mainly because of the leadership vacuum.
That's questionable. Isn't this vacuum caused by our (questionable too) political system that tends to squash mavericks and cause good people a permanent turn-off from political activity? We can say that its is not Israel-specific disease, but the fact of the vacuum remains there, and we need good leadership a bit more than, say, Switzerland. Don't we?
Barak, the "most decorated soldier in the Israeli Army," charmed world leaders with his brilliant analyses from his first month in office. Yeltsin, Blair, Abdullah, Clinton and others lapped up his words. He promised Israel to end the conflict and to establish permanent borders by February 2000. Not only did he misread the political map, but he didn't have a clue how to do it.
That true. To treat the international (and internal) politics like a sandbox with pliable soldiers, schedules for peace treaties and military-style prescriptions for all players' behavior is an indelible mark of military mind, albeit, according to rumors, a brilliant one.
These two stars, who rose big-time and fell big-time, are now using the same comeback tactic. Both have solemnly admitted to making mistakes. They have learned their lesson, they say, and they have changed.

In the letter Barak wrote, announcing his desire to compete in the primaries, he says: "I made mistakes. My inexperience did me in. Today I know that there are no shortcuts, and that leadership is not a one-man show. I believe I have the experience and maturity to be the next defense minister."
It seems that this unexpected show of humility unsettled Yoel Marcus so much that he exclaimed:
Hello? Is that Barak? The little guy with the Napoleon complex?
Napoleon, as Barak, was a genius not only in military strategy but in tactics as well. So I would be extremely careful to believe that guy to the degree Marcus did, reaching the following surprising conclusion:
With Israel's military deterrence seriously eroded and war looming on the horizon, maybe the time has indeed come for Barak to make the switchover from politician to professional, and become a defense minister.
How about waiting for, say, another 30 - 40 years and then check again? And, since Bibi is mentioned in the same breath, why can't we buy that old Sabena plane (Belgians will be only too happy to sell it for scrap, what with Sabena's finances) and let the two reenact that star moment of their lives. With dummy bullets, to insure one of them doesn't get hurt.

We'll deal with the vacuum meanwhile, after all what is 50 years when you love someone?

What do ya'll say?