The main distinction between a statesman and an ordinary leader is the ability to place national (security) interests above personal political ambitions. Geo-politics is the biggest game of high stakes poker, thereby, millions of lives hang in the balance. The decision to protect ones citizens (in the long or short term) can result in placing a leader’s political career in jeopardy.
Many scratch their heads in bewilderment, wondering how Jewish leaders (supposedly known for their smarts) can make so many grave errors in judgment, particularly in the realm of strategic calculations. Specifically, and most recently, the much heralded IDF left most of Hamas’s terror leadership (and many of their foot soldiers too) alive and kicking during Operation Cast Lead. To be sure, the military leadership is subservient to the political leadership, however, it too is infected with personal political aspirations.
At play are two dangerous paradigms, one of which is the IDF doctrine of havlaga, “restraint is strength”, an oxymoron of Orwellian proportions. This doctrine was designed by a leftist professor ( all ‘credit’ due to Professor Asa Kasher, what a shock), which basically attempts to place an otherwise lofty goal-taking the moral high road-juxtaposed against the dynamics of brutal battlefields.
In tandem, Israel’s political leadership basically follows leftist doctrines (my op-ed, ‘The Paradox of Israeli Politics:Vote Right, Get Left’ explains the phenomena http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/06/the_paradox_of_israeli_politics_vote_right_get_left.html ), and in order for a high military leader to transition to political office (upon their retirement) they must prove their leftist bonafides. Hence, their hands are tied into double knots, both by the orders of the political leadership and through their future political ambitions. Restraint becomes a much more appealing/viable option under the above considerations-the path of least resistance. Hmm….
Back to the game of geo-politics. With Egypt’s recent fall to the Islamist Brotherhood, coupled with Hamas-their spawn-ruling Gaza, the above detriments (with a more than willing IDF Chief of Staff in tow, during Operation Cast Lead into Gaza in 2009) exposes what happens when personal ambitions trump national interests. The following is a non-hysterical rendering, by a well known Israeli analyst, explaining where the dangerous fault-lines (and onus) lie when statesmen are not at the helm-http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/security/01/06/egypt-has-fallen.html.