Christopher Hitchens, yesterday on Hugh Hewitt made the brilliant insight that GWB is responsible for a the gap that is causing the Israeli-Lebanon conflict to become such a cockup for America.
What Bush should have done, but left miserably undone was a strong followup against Syria and Iran after the Cedar Revolution. When Crazy A issued his bold statement calling out Bush, he should have replied very specifically to what had better not happen in Lebanon via Hezbollah and what had better not happen with Hamas through Syria. Instead, the Administration's line was the hopeful hopeful that the feeble Lebanese democracy was strong enough. Rah rah. Cya later. But the worst thing we have done is let the Israelis off the leash to deal with the Local, implicating ourselves and them in the Global, without us having done squat.
Since it's obvious that the US backs Israel, not simply because we arm and aid them,... well let me quote Hitch at today's WSJ.
But all of this was, or ought to have been, well understood in Washington long before the predictable recent provocations. Was there even a contingency plan for what to do when that looming moment arrived? The astonishing answer appears to be no. No call for the U.N. to live up to its resolutions and responsibilities was made until the fighting had begun. No estimate of the effect of a clash with Hezbollah on the internal affairs of Iraq appears to have been made. No care for the balance of forces in Lebanon, or the fraught question of Beirut's relationship with Damascus, seems to have been taken.
The outcome is so astoundingly awful that it has taken weeks to sink in. Iran hands out missiles to a theocratic gang that was until recently mounting pro-Syrian demonstrations in Beirut, all the while spitting in the face of the U.N., the U.S. and the EU on the nuclear issue -- and is subjected to precisely no consequences. Syria openly parades the leader of Hamas in a Damascus hotel, while accepting Iranian largesse (and incidentally proving once again that "secular" Baathists can indeed collude full-time with religious fundamentalists), sends its death-squads to murder Lebanese politicians and journalists -- and is subjected to precisely no consequences. Syria and Iran send sophisticated explosives for the use of Shiite sectarians in Iraq, who employ them to murder American soldiers and Sunni civilians -- and are subjected to precisely no consequences. While all the time, because of its arming and encouraging of Israel, the otherwise passive United States is regarded with as much hatred and fury as if it had in fact tried to remove Assad and Ahmadinejad from power!
To suffer all the consequences of being imperialistic, while acting with all the resolution and consistency and authority of, say, Belgium, is to have failed rather badly.
It is becoming apparent to me that Israel is going to have to fall in line with whatever Rice puts together. The signals sounded clear to me today that a ceasefire is inevitable and Olmert's hands are going to be tied. And because we in the US have allowed Israel to do what it has done without recognizing this contingency - without Bush having publically declared a line over which Syria and Iran cannot cross, we get pulled into whatever Israel unilaterally decides. And so it puts all of us in the position of apologizing for the IDF without regard to a real strategy in the region. We have none, apparently.
I was saying two days ago:
..[I]f I were Sec'y Rice and I had anything to do with the negotiations, I would create a situation in which the Syrian and Iranian machinations on behalf of Hezbollah were made manifestly clear. It's something our newspapers don't seem willing or able to say..
It's worse. It's something the Administration hasn't been willing to do anything about, and there is no contingency. So who is going to lead the process by which the international force gets put in (btw this is only Israel's demand, we don't have one)? Kofi Annan, and all of the rest of the Lebanese parties already held hostage by and now forced to politically appease Hezbollah because of our failure to adequately stand by them before.
The Israeli Lebanese border should have been held sacrosanct by the US, and now we are allowing the UN to define what's enforceable. In the end, for not having been definitive, Bush has put the US and Israel in the same stewpot and not credible to actually enforce what the UN said should have been enforced before.
Since we know how quickly UN personnel will abandon ship when the shells start falling and Hezbollah, rightly or wrongly has been encouraged and emboldened, it seems only a matter of time before these borders are poked again.
And that means today until the gavel falls in the UN General Assembly, the IDF are going to be on a mad dash to capture as much territory as possible in Lebanon. If anybody thinks they're going to stop at the Litani River, you're smokin'. More casualties are coming because America didn't hold up a big enough threat.