On January 8, the United Nations Security Council passed a UK-sponsored resolution, number 1860, by a vote of 14-0, with the United States abstaining. The resolution, which the US worked to develop, called for an immediate cease fire in the Gaza war. As is usual with these things, there was a great deal of give-and-take in developing language that would be acceptable to the Arab members of the organization, and to Israel. The resolution was thus a toothless mess. While it expressed great concern for the humanitarian disaster in Gaza, it said nothing about the missile attacks on Israel.
Israel wasn't happy with the language. And so as the vote was about to occur, Israel's accidental Prime Minister Ehud Olmert demanded to speak with President George Bush. By Olmert's own account, recorded before cameras, he called looking for the outgoing President, who at the time was speaking before a group in Philadelphia.
Olmert told a group of regional council members in Ashkelon on Monday (I saw the video on Israeli TV, but try as a can I can't find it anywhere on the internet): "All of a sudden it became clear that there was going to be a vote in 10 minutes. I wanted to speak to Bush. They told me he was giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I don't care what he is doing - pull him out of the speech! They pulled him out and I said to him that it isn't possible that the US would vote for a resolution which isn't good for Israel. He said he didn't know what the text said. I told him I knew exactly what it said. He contacted Rice and told her not to vote for it...The outcome is that she is quite embarrassed. The result was that the resolution she helped draft and organize, in the end she had to vote against."
For years we've known that this idiot Olmert has a big mouth, and will use any opportunity to inflate his own puny significance. Don't forget, it was Olmert who in a gaffe on German television let the nuclear cat out of the bag when two years ago he became the first Israeli PM to openly brag about Israel's nuclear capability.
Olmert now finds himself in opposition with his own inner cabinet, continuing to push for an expanded military assault on Gaza, just as he did in the final weekend of the 2006 Lebanon War, to disastrous results. Every other responsible authority was forced to resign after 2006 -- but Olmert refused to take ministerial responsibility for his role as lead incompetent. Would that he had left after the Winograd commission had issued its report! Maybe we would not be looking at this current war. But Olmert stayed on, until he was finally forced to resign because of his own personal greed. But there was just enough time for one more military adventure.
Olmert's idiotic instinct to press even harder at the endgame is repeating itself, using innocent Arabs and Israeli citizen-soldiers as canon fodder. In the future, Israelis will scratch their collective heads over how they allowed themselves to be led into 2 unnecessary wars by such a fool.
On January 20, the man who is responsible for putting Hamas in power in Gaza will thankfully step down from the US presidency. It was George W. Bush and his neocons who in 2005 were intent on proving to the world that democracy was breaking out throughout the Middle East. As voters were going to the polls in Iraq and a democracy movement was taking to the streets in Lebanon, the neocons insisted on holding a vote in the Palestinian Authority. The west-oriented Fatah leadership warned about the instability in Palestine, and counseled against holding a vote, but Bush was insistent. Under a complicated voting scheme, Hamas "won" the 2006 legislative elections, and within months brutally suppressed and exiled Fatah from Gaza. Thank George W. Bush for this intolerable, intractable situation where a radical Islamist movement wields control over a hopeless slum of 1.4 million people.
Sometime after February 10, the man who is responsible for 2 wars in 30 months will thankfully leave office. Olmert will probably be replaced by an even more muscular and aggressive successor. There isn't much reason to welcome Binyamin Netanyahu to the Israeli Prime Ministership (he still remains the likely electoral victor in less than a month), but one can hope that Netanyahu's many faults do not include the strategic vacuousness and downright callousness that will forever mark the short, useless, pathetic leadership of Ehud Olmert.