By ALEXANDER COCKBURN
""Israel is doomed," said a friend of mine some months ago, returning to the U.S. after a trip to Israel. I asked him why, and my friend, who spent twenty years working at a high level in the Pentagon, answered, "They've put in an Air Force man as chief of the General Staff."
He was talking about Dan Halutz, appointed chief of the General Staff of the IDF in February of this year.
The trouble is that history shows air power doesn't win wars, or even battles. The best known example is the bombing of Germany by the Americans and the British in World War Two. The plan, as advanced by Britain's Arthur "Bomber" Harris, was to kill a million Germans and paralyze industrial production. Harris began his career with the British bombing campaigns in Mesopotamia in the 1920s, then Palestine, against the Great Rising, in the 1930s.
Dan Halutz is in the LeMay tradition, a brutish lout. He raised a storm when he was asked what feelings, what moral tremors he might have had about the dropping of a one-ton bomb in a house in Gaza. Halutz's jaunty reply was to the effect that all he felt was "a slight tremor in the wing of the airplane."
So the brazen thug Halutz got the big job, just at the moment the Israeli high command was firming up plans for its long planned onslaught on Lebanon. It was Halutz who sold Olmert and Peretz on the fantasy of swift and devastating air force raids finishing off Hezbollah. "