As Bush fiddles.................
It's Hezbollah, no the Iraqi resistance,
no, Hezbollah, fuck it, they might
wind up being the same thing.
In Mideast Strife, Bush Sees a Step To Peace
By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 21, 2006; Page A01
President Bush's unwillingness to pressure Israel to halt its military campaign in Lebanon is rooted in a view of the Middle East conflict that is sharply different from that of his predecessors.
When hostilities have broken out in the past, the usual U.S. response has been an immediate and public bout of diplomacy aimed at a cease-fire, in the hopes of ensuring that the crisis would not escalate. This week, however, even in the face of growing international demands, the White House has studiously avoided any hint of impatience with Israel. While making it plain it wants civilian casualties limited, the administration is also content to see the Israelis inflict the maximum damage possible on Hezbollah.
As the president's position is described by White House officials, Bush associates and outside Middle East experts, Bush believes that the status quo -- the presence in a sovereign country of a militant group with missiles capable of hitting a U.S. ally -- is unacceptable.
The U.S. position also reflects Bush's deepening belief that Israel is central to the broader campaign against terrorists and represents a shift away from a more traditional view that the United States plays an "honest broker's" role in the Middle East.
In the administration's view, the new conflict is not just a crisis to be managed. It is also an opportunity to seriously degrade a big threat in the region, just as Bush believes he is doing in Iraq. Israel's crippling of Hezbollah, officials also hope, would complete the work of building a functioning democracy in Lebanon and send a strong message to the Syrian and Iranian backers of Hezbollah.
"The president believes that unless you address the root causes of the violence that has afflicted the Middle East, you cannot forge a lasting peace," said White House counselor Dan Bartlett. "He mourns the loss of every life. Yet out of this tragic development, he believes a moment of clarity has arrived."
One former senior administration official said Bush is only emboldened by the pressure from U.N. officials and European leaders to lead a call for a cease-fire. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan demanded yesterday that the fighting in Lebanon stop.
"He thinks he is playing in a longer-term game than the tacticians," said the former official, who spoke anonymously so he could discuss his views candidly. "The tacticians would say: 'Get an immediate cease-fire. Deal first with the humanitarian factors.' The president would say: 'You have an opportunity to really grind down Hezbollah. Let's take it, even if there are other serious consequences that will have to be managed.' "
Jack Rosen, chairman of the American Jewish Congress, said Bush's statements reflect an unambiguous view of the situation. "He doesn't seem to allow his vision to be clouded in any way," said Rosen, a Democrat who has come to admire Bush's Middle East policy. "It follows suit. Israel is in the right. Hezbollah is in the wrong. Terrorists have to be eliminated, and he sees Israel fighting the war he would fight against terrorism."
Many Mideast experts warn that there is a dangerous consequence to this worldview. They believe that Israel, and the United States by extension, is risking serious trouble if it continues with the punishing air strikes that are producing mounting casualties. The history of the Middle East is replete with examples of the limits of military power, they say, noting how the Israeli campaign in Lebanon in the early 1980s helped create the conditions for the rise of Hezbollah.
They warned that the military campaign is turning mainstream Lebanese public opinion against Israel rather than against Hezbollah, which instigated the violence. The attacks also make it more difficult for the Lebanese government to regain normalcy. And what seems now to be a political winner for the president -- the House overwhelmingly approved a resolution yesterday backing Israel's position -- could become a liability if the fighting expands to Syria or if the United States adds Lebanon to Iraq and Afghanistan as a country to which U.S. troops are deployed.
"There needs to be a signal that the Bush administration is prepared to do something," said Larry Garber, the executive director the New Israel Fund, which pushes for civil rights and justice in Israel. "Taking a complete hands-off, casual-observer position undermines our credibility. . . . There is a danger that we will be seen as simply doing Israel's bidding."
Are people pissed at Hezbollah for lighting up that patrol and kidnapping those two soldiers? You bet. But they are enraged at Israel crippling their country, a lot more than at Hezbollah, which was no danger to their state.
Americans are deployed in Lebanon, getting people out of there, that isn't the problem. It's this:
Mosques bombed, tense Baghdad under curfew
By Ahmed Rasheed and Mariam Karouny
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Bombs killed two worshippers at mosques in Iraq during Friday prayers and the authorities extended a daytime curfew on Baghdad after one of the bloodiest weeks this year.
On the eve of a high-profile meeting intended to demonstrate reconciliation among sectarian and ethnic factions ahead of a White House visit by the prime minister, senior leaders admitted to despair about the chances of averting all-out civil war.
"Iraq as a political project is finished," a top government official told Reuters -- anonymously because the coalition of Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki remains committed in public to a U.S.-sponsored constitution preserving Iraq's unity.
"The parties have moved to Plan B," the official said, saying Sunni, ethnic Kurdish and majority Shi'ite blocs were looking at ways to divide power and resources and to solve the conundrum of Baghdad's mixed population of seven million.
"There is serious talk of Baghdad being divided into east and west," said the official, who has long been a proponent of the present government's objectives. "We are extremely worried."
And folks, that means Civil War. Killing Shia in Lebanon is not helping this one fucking bit.
Bush has forgotten Israel's interest is not the same as the US, which has Arab governments to prop up. This is pissing off the Arab street and emasulating the government. People are trying to pretend that Sunnis are happy to see Hezbollah get pounded. That's not real. They're Muslims, being killed in their homes. By Israel.
Iraq could very easily turn into insane violence feeding off Lebanon. This is an interconnected world. Sadr's already making noises. US troops could pay for this with lots of dead bodies and a civil war to boot.
Bush, delusionally thinks he's punishing Iran. The mullahs are laughing their ass off. Their plan for regional dominance is going better than expected. The West worries about a powerless president, as the mullahs increase their stranglehold on the Iraqi government and become the heroic resisters against a hegomonic Israel.
posted by Steve @ 1:00:00 PM