'Israel has failed to learn from Lebanon War'

Israel has not implemented the lessons from its disastrous war in Lebanon, almost two years ago, says one of the country’s leading strategists.

According to a memo prepared by Professor Yehezkel Dror, a member of the Winograd Commission set up to investigate the war, and seen by the JC, the government has not carried out the commission’s main recommendations.

The Winograd Commission, set up by the government following the Second Lebanon War in 2006, published two reports describing the lack of a clear decision-making process at the highest levels of Israel’s political and military leaderships and set out a long list of recommendations that had to be taken up to improve that situation.

Professor Dror, one of Israel’s most respected veteran experts on strategic thinking and a member of the commission, details six of the commission’s main recommendations to the government in the memo, which was written last week. None of them have been fully implemented.

At the top of the list is a complete reorganisation of the National Security Council, aimed at transforming it into the nation’s senior strategic forum, by providing it with sufficient resources and personnel.

But the Council has remained without a chairman for the last six months and according to Professor Dror, the recommendation “has essentially not been carried out”. He also casts doubt on whether, in the absence of a fully functioning National Security Council, the government can implement another recommendation to draw up and update central policy papers, dealing with Israel’s central strategic issues.

The Commission also recommended the government re-examine the way the annual strategic assessment, traditionally prepared by the commander of military intelligence, is made. This has also not been implemented, writes Professor Dror “and not even been examined at any depth”.

Two recommendations that Professor Dror points out have only been “partially implemented,” are the full integration of the Foreign Ministry into the strategic decision-making process and the building of a central inter-department civil defence structure.

He also claims that there is no systematic process to follow up and ensure the Winograd commission’s report is acted upon.

“I will continue writing memos to the decision-makers, reminding them of what has to be done,” Professor Dror told the JC, “and I hope that unlike research in Britain, which has shown that it takes between ten and fifteen years for the recommendations of royal commissions to be carried out, in our case, it will take less time.”

    Last updated: 2:25pm, May 16 2008