Israel – Lebanon: Bolton Blows it Again –updated–
How many times do we have to endure this insipid, yet highly dangerous, stupidity? Oh right, I keep
forgetting what Joe said. Bush will be president for a couple of more years
so just STFU.
Evidently, in the middle of working on the draft resolution for the Israeli-Lebanon
escalation, Bolton and Bush wanted to send troops into the area BEFORE a ceasefire.
That's right; in the middle of all the bombs flying and the bullets strafing,
Bolton's idea and Bush's policy was to send French troops into a LZ on fire
to try and stop the fighting.
What in the world were they thinking? Do they
even have a clue about what can happen in Middle East conflicts, especially when troops are sent to navigate between two hostiles as volatile as Israel and Hezbollah? I guess they still haven't learned a thing from Iraq.
.. Bolton then took a leaf from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's 2003
criticism of France and Germany as “old Europe” – calling the French
ceasefire initiative “old thinking”. La Sabliere not only bristled
at Bolton's language, he threatened to end all discussions with the US over
ending the Lebanon conflict.
While Bolton and La Sabliere eventually buried their differences, the US-French
face-off reflected deep-rooted and long-lasting French resentments over America's
apparent willingness to allow the conflict to run its course – under the belief
that it is only a matter of time before Israel destroyed Hezbollah.
“The Bush people have never heard a shot fired in anger, and it's apparent,”
an official in the UN Secretary General's Office noted. “The French were
quite fearful that one miscalculation, one stray rocket could set the region
on fire. No one in Washington seemed willing to admit that as a possibility.”
Bolton's continued “cheerleading for Israel” didn't help, according
to this same official. “It's a real row that started with Bolton's statement
that you couldn't compare the deaths of Lebanese to the deaths of Israelis,”
the official said. “He implied that because Lebanon harbored Hezbollah,
Lebanese lives were forfeit. It was a stupid thing to say. It tore the scab
off the wound.”
The US press was quick to pick up on this, parroting the administration's
line. Even the venerable Washington Post implied that seven Canadians who
had died as a result of Israeli air strikes in the war's first days were of
lesser value than other Westerners – since they were “Lebanese holding
Canadian passports”. …
That's really one of the biggest problem with conservatives regarding this
messy escalation between Israel and Lebanon. They don't seem capable of realizing that amidst
Hezbollah there are innocent Lebanese fighting to stay alive. Bush and Bolton also don't realize that the organization helping the Leganese people isn't, unfortunately, Sinior's government but Hezbollah, which was covered yesterday here and here.
We all know too well that Israeli citizens are unjustly and heinously attacked
through terrorist bombings from Hezbollah. We sympathize and support Israel fully and their right to defend themselves.
But what about the Lebanese people? Why the wholesale onslaught when they have nowhere to go?
Besides, after the Syrians were kicked out of Lebanon, upon Hariri's
assassination, sure we had 1559. But what did President Bush do to help
the Lebanese government stabilize itself? In the vacuum created by Syria did
anyone attempt to aid Siniora in making deals with Hezbollah that would disarm
them, while also bringing them into the military so they had a real stake in
the new Lebanon? Bush did nothing, while Iran continued to use the power vacuum
to arm Hezbollah, which the Israelis are now finding out first hand.
Not too long ago, in an email to Billmon, in fact, I made a comment that basically
questioned Israel's intel inside Lebanon. Today (tomorrow in their world) we
get some evidence of why it's been so bad.
Intelligence failed at a vital moment
… The Lebanese government is in part responsible for this. Several months
ago the Lebanese Security Service, working in close cooperation with Hezbollah's
own counter-intelligence unit, smashed an Israeli spy ring. As many as 80
Lebanese Christian, Sunni Muslim and Druze agents working for Mossad were
arrested in a series of police operations.
We're in very dangerous territory, which Billmon outlines today. John Bolton
is making it worse.
As I've stated earlier, there's only one way to stop the fighting. Like it
or not, Israel has to get out of sourthern Lebanon. Hezbollah won't stop shooting
until that happens. Why should they?
In other words, the PR strategy is also the diplomatic strategy — and, as
we've seen in Iraq, the military strategy as well. Mike Gerson (Bush's chief
speechwriter, crafter of all those fine phrases about freedom and democracy)
really is running the war. And when you let your speechwriters run your war,
you have no right to complain when you lose.
The distinction between these two viewpoints has been overanalyzed to death
in recent years. America is from Mars, Europe is from Venus, etc. But at this
point it looks pretty fairly straightforward: Americans believe their own
PR spin and the Europeans don't. But the French are the ones being asked to
put boots on the ground in southern Lebanon, not the Americans. The French
aren't very happy about doing this because it's not really in their interests
— although papering over their differences with the Cheney administration
is in their interests. But they certainly won't go in unless they're satisfied
Hizbullah is ready to stop shooting. So if Shrub wants a French-led peacekeeping
force in southern Lebanon, he has no choice but to accept French terms, which
at this point means accepting Hizbullah's terms, which means getting the Israelis
out of Lebanon.
UPDATE (3:45 p.m.): Read Pat Lang – interesting.