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Category: Israel-Palestine (page 1 of 3)

The Results From Deliberately Missed Opportunities

The latest from Palestine:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the Palestinian government Thursday and declared a state of emergency after rival Hamas forces took complete control of the Gaza Strip in what the Islamic movement called the territory’s “liberation.”
In a presidential decree, Abbas fired Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas and suggested that new national elections would occur soon. Abbas’s decision ends the three-month-old power-sharing arrangement between his Fatah movement and Hamas, the two main Palestinian political parties.

This did not have to be.
One year ago, after Hamas won Palestinian elections, the Associated Press reported:

Hamas is drawing close to a compromise on a document that would implicitly recognize Israel, a senior official of the Hamas-led Palestinian government said…

Why? Maybe it was that democracy stuff Dubya claims to care about. From a July 15, 2006 Asia Times analysis:

…Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyya … voted into office early this year, wants to run a country and is suffering from an international boycott on food, medicine and money into the Palestinian territories.
Wages have not been paid in Palestine since February. Haniyya made several gestures of goodwill toward Israel … to prove that he was not in power to combat Israel but to improve the livelihood of the Palestinians.

But those gestures of moderation were rebuffed.
Today’s NY Times quotes on former State Dept. official saying the big missed opportunity was in 2005 when Abbas became president, and Bush failed to “empower” him.
No doubt that 2005 failure to nurture Palestinian democracy was the failure that led to Hamas’ 2006 democratic victory.
But failing to respect those in Hamas who were signaling moderation — once again failing to respect democracy — was just as big a failure. (One recognized by LiberalOasis at the time.)
The most disturbing prospect is that these missed opportunities were missed deliberately.
As the NY Times reports today, the White House pressed Abbas to dismiss the democratically elected Haniyeh and dissolve the Palestinian unity government, allowing Palestinians to be effectively divided between Hamas-led Gaza and Fatah-led West Bank.
And as Seymour Hersh said on CNN last month, about White House foreign policy throughout the Middle East region:

We’re in a business right now of creating in some places … a sectarian violence.

Bush Continues to Prevent Israel-Syria Peace

We learned last August that in September 2004, Dubya directly undermined attempts to forge peace between Israel and Syria.
In January, we learned that despite Bush’s attempts, secret negotiations between Israel and Syria occurred anyway, between Sept. 2004 and July 2006. The outlines of a peace agreement were formed, but Israel would not agree to upgrade the status of the talks from unofficial to official — presumably because Bush was still lurking over its shoulder.
Today in Ha’aretz, we learn that Israel is continuing to explore possible common ground in Syria, but Bush continues to lurk and meddle:

Some of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s advisors are concerned that an initiative to renew peace talks with Syria might undermine Israel’s relations with the United States.
The Bush administration is not keen on reviving the Syrian track, as it considers Bashar Assad’s regime problematic and harmful to regional stability.
However, Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi strongly supports renewed talks with Syria, with the goal of distancing Damascus from its alliance with Iran and contributing to a new regional order in which Syria would forge closer relations with moderate Arab states.
A government source said on Monday that resuming negotiations with Syria is not on the agenda for a scheduled meeting between Olmert and U.S. President George Bush in Washington in two weeks.

In closed sessions, Olmert said recently that the Bush administration “has never told us officially not to talk with the Syrians.” Senior officials who participated in the discussions therefore concluded that Olmert is holding secret talks with Damascus.

It would appear, based on the past history, that Bush doesn’t care about “secret” talks, because he can lean on Israel to prevent them from becoming official talks that produce concrete results — results that would thwart neocon plans for more “regime change.”
And it’s clear from the Ha’aretz report that Israeil officials are flinching from overtly pursuing peace, not because of the prospects of negotiations, but because of negative pressure from the White House.
As noted here before, if Dems want to build a reputation for being “serious” on foreign policy, they need to call attention to stories like this, show how the current conservative foreign policy is actively preventing peace, stability and freedom, and explain how a change in foreign policy objectives would move us forward.

Promoting Region-Wide Sectarian Violence

ABC News’ The Blotter yesterday broke the news that Bush has given secret authorization to “mount a covert ‘black’ operation to destabilize the Iranian government.”
And on CNN International, Seymour Hersh re-broke his overlooked New Yorker scoop from March, regarding Fatah al-Islam, the Palestinian group exchanging fire with the Lebanese army. From his interview by Hala Gorani:

HERSH: What I was writing about was a sort of a private agreement that was made between the White House, we’re talking about Dick Cheney and Elliott Abrams, who is one of the key aides in the White House with [Saudi national security adviser Prince Bandar bin Sultan].
And the idea was to get support, covert support, money, from the Saudis to support various hard-line jihadists, Sunni groups, particularly in Lebanon, who would be seen — in case of an actual confrontation with Hezbollah, the Shia group in the southern Lebanon — would be seen as an asset, as simple as that.
GORANI: So, the Sinora government [of Lebanon], in order to counter the influence of Hezbollah in Lebanon, would be covertly, according to your reporting, funding groups like Fatah al-Islam that they’re having issues with right now?
HERSH: Unintended consequences once again, yes.

GORANI: Why would it be in the best interest of the United States of America right now to indirectly, even if it is indirect, empower these jihadi movements that are extremists, that fight to the death, in these Palestinian camps? Doesn’t it go against the interests not only of the Sinora government, but also of America and Lebanon right now?
HERSH: The enemy of our enemy is our friend. The jihadist groups in Lebanon were also there to go after Nasrallah [leader of] Hezbollah. … Look, the American role is very simple right now. Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, has been very articulate about it.
We’re in the business now of supporting the Sunnis anywhere we can against the Shia, against the Shia in Iran, against the Shia in Lebanon, that is Nasrallah, et cetera against — so the game is really, as you could call it, almost — the Arabic word is Fitna, civil war.
We’re in a business right now of creating in some places, Lebanon in particular, a sectarian violence.

What Hersh is talking about in Lebanon is parallel to what’s going on Iran. The ABC report included the following:

As earlier reported on the Blotter on ABCNews.com, the United States has supported and encouraged an Iranian militant group, Jundullah, that has conducted deadly raids inside Iran from bases on the rugged Iran-Pakistan-Afghanistan “tri-border region.”
U.S. officials deny any “direct funding” of Jundullah groups but say the leader of Jundullah was in regular contact with U.S. officials.
American intelligence sources say Jundullah has received money and weapons through the Afghanistan and Pakistan military and Pakistan’s intelligence service.

Like Fatah al-Islam, Jundallah is a militant Sunni organization.
(Iran even accuses it of being linked to Al Qaeda, though that may be akin to accusing the Fort Dix Six or the Seeds of Liberty with Al Qaeda ties.)
In both cases, the Bush administration is supporting Sunni terrorist outfits with the goal of fostering sectarian violence — a strategy that undermines any claim to promoting freedom and stability abroad.

Bipartisan Government Fails Israel

Atrios asks today, “How much attention has Unity08 – the stupidest idea in history – been given already?”
Unity08 is trying to nominate a presidential ticket made up of one Republican and one Democrat. To do what?
Apparently, it doesn’t matter. As Emboldened found, “they have no platform.”
It’s just bipartisanship for bipartisanship’s sake, the notion that all of our problem can be solved in the mythical “sensible middle” if it weren’t for those awful partisans.
Problem is, we’ve just seen that philosophy put into practice, in Israel. And it’s falling flat on it’s face.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert leads the newly formed party Kadima, or Forward, styled as a center-right party rejecting the orthodoxies of right-wing Likud and center-left Labor.
When Kadima didn’t get enough votes to solely control the government, it formed a coalition government with Labor as the main partner — Labor’s leader Amir Peretz was given the key position of Defense Minister.
Essentially, the kind of “unity” government for which Unity08 pines.
But what did this glorious unity provide? No brilliant ideas, no fresh approaches, no breakthroughs for peace.
(Of course, the Bush Administration’s determination to undermine any peace progress didn’t help either.)
And now, in the wake of a failed war, the prime minister’s approval is in single digits and the government is about to fall.
The prevailing wisdom in Israel appears to be that Olmert and Peretz should be ousted for incompetence, for mismanaging the war in Lebanon, though there are other voices that believe the war was a failure of ideology that shouldn’t have been launched at all.
That’s for the Israeli people to sort out, but it’s fair to say that to tackle difficult problems you need both: principled vision and competent execution.
And bipartisanship for bipartisanship’s sake, compromise for compromise sake, is not the magic shortcut that brings vision and competence.
It did not solve Israel’s conflicts with it’s neighbors. It will not automatically solve our quagmire in Iraq.
Because bipartisan support for a bad policy, is still bad policy.

Sunday Talkshow Breakdown

We are caught up in a worldwide war against an irreconcilable enemy who seeks to destroy us and will use nuclear or biological weapons if they can get them. And they mean literally destroy us … whether it’s Afghanistan, it’s Iraq, it’s Iran, it is the problems in Syria, it’s the 300 people who were killed in Algeria a week ago, the 200 people killed in India a month ago…
Newt Gingrich, CBS’ Face The Nation, 5/6/07
…Iraq is not about a civil war. Iraq is about Al Qaeda and 76 other terrorist groups operating there, and all of their effort is aimed at defeating the United States … it’s Al Qaeda and their affiliates who have made Iraq the central front in their war with us. And we have to remember they started this, not us. And if we don’t take on Al Qaeda there, in Iraq, where do we take on Al Qaeda? Where do we take on radical Islam who is hellbent on killing Americans and our allies?
House Minority Leader John Boehner, Fox News Sunday, 5/6/07
Bush is at 28%. 64% of Americans want a timetable for a 2008 withdrawal from Iraq. Twice as many as Americans believe, if we stay in Iraq, that terrorist attacks on the U.S. are more likely than less likely.
Yet we should be not sanguine about the state of our foreign policy debate. Because we’re barely having one.
The intentionally oversimplified conservative worldview is still being consistently articulated, without being challenged directly. As it was on Sunday with Gingrich and Boehner.
That’s a dangerous situation. Conservatives may be down. But by allowing them to inaccurately frame the overall debate, they can get back up.
Democratic opposition to the Iraq war has become clearer and stronger. Presidential candidates are beginning to give speeches offering foreign policy vision.
But we do not see those speeches become centerpieces of debate. We do not see Democratic leaders regularly debunking the false premises of the conservative worldview, to best crystallize the choice the people have for our foreign policy direction,
What exactly needs to be challenged?
On the region: That we face a singular “Islamofacist” terrorist threat.
This is how they justify staying in Iraq, and set the stage for future invasions, by saying it’s all part of a larger war.
But there is not a singular threat. We are not in a World War III against a global Islamofascist army.
We face a region where average people are suffocated and manipulated by various autocrats, theocrats, terrorist organizations and political militias, with different agendas and allegiances.
Misrepresenting and demagoguing the situation is how we got mired in Iraq, and how we will get mired in more countries.
On Iraq: That withdrawing would happen in a vacuum.
Redeployment is only part of a fundamental change in strategy — unequivocally scrapping the neoconservative goal of a permanent military presence in Iraq.
That would dramatically change the political dynamic — dissipating Iraqi animosity towards us and giving neighboring nations reason to work with us, maximizing our ability to make diplomacy work.
On Iran: That Ahmadinejad runs the place, and that negotiations would be pointless.
Ahmadinejad is not the Supreme Leader, not commander-in-chief, and not in control of any nuclear program. Further, his political standing was weakened in Iran’s most recent elections. There are other members in Iran’s fractured government we can more easily talk to.
Conservatives are fond of asking: “just what are you willing to give up” to Iran, and no one ever seems to answer the question.
But the common ground to be had is easy to articulate:
Intrusive weapons inspections, border control and an end to support for anti-Israel groups, in exchange for normalized relations, economic assistance and renouncement of U.S. permanent bases in Iraq.
On Israel: That the current foreign policy course we’re on is good for Israel.
We need to encourage peace between Israel and its neighbors, not undermine potential progress as has continually happened in the last several years.
There have been openings for an agreement with Syria, for moderation of Hamas following democratic elections, for strengthening of Lebanon’s elected government and weakening of Hezbollah.
But they have all been missed under the current myopic foreign policy.
To protect ourselves and others from the threat of terrorist organizations, we need to be a positive force for freedom and stability, and take away the ability for terror organizations to gain political support and grow their ranks.
Unilateral military strikes, occupations against the will of sovereign people, hypocritical support for autocrats, and ignoring diplomatic opportunities have all served to destabilize the Gulf region and impede democracy.
That’s the choice.
Or at least, it would be if Democratic leaders consistently challenged the false conservative worldview, and made plain what the differences are.

Undermining Israel-Syria Peace Talks

Air America’s Sam Seder today pointed to a blockbuster piece in Ha’aretz, “Israeli, Syrian Representatives Reach Secret Understandings,” which reports;

In a series of secret meetings in Europe between September 2004 and July 2006, Syrians and Israelis formulated understandings for a peace agreement between Israel and Syria…
…The document is described as a “non-paper,” a document of understandings that is not signed and lacks legal standing – its nature is political. It was prepared in August 2005 and has been updated during a number of meetings in Europe.

The contacts ended after the Syrians demanded an end to meetings on an unofficial level and called for a secret meeting at the level of deputy minister, on the Syrian side, with an Israeli official at the rank of a ministry’s director general, including the participation of a senior American official. Israel did not agree to this Syrian request.

According to Geoffrey Aronson, an American from the Washington-based Foundation for Middle East Peace, who was involved in the talks, an agreement under American auspices would call for Syria to ensure that Hezbollah would limit itself to being solely a political party.
He also told Haaretz that Khaled Meshal, Hamas’ political bureau chief, based in Damascus, would have to leave the Syrian capital.
Syria would also exercise its influence for a solution to the conflict in Iraq, through an agreement between Shi’a leader Muqtada Sadr and the Sunni leadership, and in addition, it would contribute to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the refugee problem.
Aronson said the idea of a park on the Golan Heights allows for the Syrian demand that Israel pull back to the June 4 border, on the one hand, while on the other hand, the park eliminates Israeli concerns that Syrians will have access to the water sources of Lake Kinneret…
…It also emerged that one of the Syrian messages to Israel had to do with the ties between Damascus and Tehran. In the message, the Alawi regime … asserts that it considers itself to be an integral part of the Sunni world and that it objects to the Shi’a theocratic regime, and is particularly opposed to Iran’s policy in Iraq. A senior Syrian official stressed that a peace agreement with Israel will enable Syria to distance itself from Iran.

It appears Dubya has a hand in preventing these talks from moving from unofficial and secret status, to official status.
As flagged by LiberalOasis in August ’06, a Lebanese political analyst told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that:

In September 2004, a common friend of yours and mine, Wolf — and I won’t say his name now — came to Lebanon and Damascus.
And he is a very close friend to Israel, believe me. Nobody more than this guy love Israel’s interest. [sic]
He came to see whether there is a possibility for a certain peace talk in the future.
A week later, President Bush made a presidential statement forbidding any peace talks to go between Israel, Lebanon and Syria.

And today, the right-wing Cybercast News Service reports:

Israel officially has rejected the Syrian overtures, apparently because Washington doesn’t want Israel to engage Syria at this time

More at War and Piece and American Footprints.

Failing Lebanon, Abandoning Democracy

At the end of the summer’s Israel-Lebanon war, LiberalOasis concluded:

…this does appear to be a poorly constructed cease-fire resolution.
Why? None of the actual root causes of violence are addressed. Neither Israel nor Lebanon get anything.
The resolution punts on the occupation of Shebaa Farms and on the prisoners from both sides.
While the resolution calls for the Lebanese army to replace Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, without any political gains for the Lebanese people, the Lebanese government has less political capital with which to pressure Hezbollah to disarm.
And without disarmament, and without the return of the abducted Israeli soldiers, the Israeli people get nothing from the resolution as well.
Meaning both the Israeli and Lebanese governments may well be weakened, perhaps fatally, by this resolution.
Which could strengthen both Likud and Hezbollah, a recipe for more conflict and instability.

This analysis sadly appears to be pretty accurate, particularly in regards to Lebanon.
Hezbollah is widely perceived in Lebanon as politically strengthened since the war.
Emboldened, Hezbollah has demanded greater power within the Lebanese government, while pushing the government to the brink of collapse by having its affiliated cabinet ministers resign.
Yesterday’s assassination of an anti-Syrian cabinet member may be the next stage of that effort. As the Christian Science Monitor explains:

Under the Lebanese constitution, a government cannot function if one-third of the cabinet resigns or is incapacitated. The resignations of the six ministers last week and Gemayel’s murder means that if another minister is removed, the government will fall.

Now, LiberalOasis can’t say with certainity that Hezbollah and/or their supporters in Syria are behind the assassination (the Syrians are contending that the killing is not in their interest, as every prior killing has politically weakened them).
But it is a certainty that the killers, whoever they support, are looking to take advantage of a grievously unstable political situation in Lebanon.
A situation that could have been stabilized if the Bush Administration, the Israeli government and the United Nations heeded Lebanon Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s repeated calls to resolve the Sheeba Farms dispute.
As LiberalOasis noted throughout the war, the Israeli occupation of Shebaa Farms has been used by Hezbollah as a pretext for continued “resistance.”
If Siniora could resolve the dispute, and deliver a tangible success for his country, his coalition government would be strengthened and Hezbollah would lose justification for remaining armed.
Instead, after the war, Hezbollah is the only entity that is perceived as doing something for Lebanon.
In fact, immediately before the assassination, Siniora was pleading once again for the Shebaa Farms dispute to be resolved, as well as for Western and Arab donor nations to come through so the country can rebuild after the war.
If the Bush Administration was sincere about promoting democracy, it would do everything possible for democratic Middle Eastern governments to survive and thrive.
That means helping them deliver for their people, not leaving them to twist in the wind.
The Bushies did nothing for the Siniora government they supposedly back. Now it hangs by a thread.
And once again, extremists are strengthened and moderates are marginalized.

Bush: Bad For Israel

Over on Bloggingheads.TV, The Forward’s Gershom Gorenberg confirms what I argued on MSNBC’s “Tucker” back in September, that this past summer, the Bush Administration actively thwarted attempts from Hamas to moderate and implicitly recognize Israel.
(The response from my conservative counterparts was that liberals blame Bush for everything.)
Presently, elements of Hamas are renewing attempts to moderate, offering to cede some power and allowing a coalition government to reach out to Israel.
That’s not as good an offering as before — as Hamas itself would not implicitly recognize Israel, just potentially, a coalition government — but it’s still a small step forward, and it’s an opportunity that the White House will likely choose to miss again.
As Gorenberg said about the earlier missed opportunity:

…the frightening thing is that, for the past several years since the Bush Administration began, the American position has not been to take any active role in encouraging a negotiated agreement.
And I would say that is damaging not only to American interests, it’s also damaging to Israeli interests. I don’t see that as a form of support for Israel … Israel’s long-term, most essential, strategic need is to reach an end to the conflict.

Past LiberalOasis posts on this are here and here.

Annan, Olmert, Siniora: Act Fast

The cease-fire held for the first day. Good.
That means there’s some time to work out a deal to address the remaining issues.
And both Israel’s prime minister Ehud Olmert, and Lebanon’s prime minister Fouad Siniora, have a strong political interest in doing a deal.
Olmert is on the defensive, feeling compelled to acknowledge “shortcomings” and “failings” in the war’s management, and facing stepped up criticism from the right-wing Likud (as well as from American neocons).
Siniora is faced with a Hezbollah riding a wave of popularity, diminishing his own stature and complicating his goal of disarming it without sparking another civil war.
Both need to change the political dynamic in order to salvage their governments, and fast.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who is now designated to come up with a Shebaa Farms plan, also is facing another around of debilitating criticism, as past UN resolutions have failed to solve Lebanon’s problems.
All three should recognize they are in a race against the neocons and the terrorists.
Annan should propose a Shebaa Farms deal as soon as possible, before militant forces can upset the cease-fire and/or dislodge either government.
Olmert, who leads a Center-Left coalition government, should recognize that the Right is after him, and following the cease-fire, he can’t really move Right to appease them.
He needs to make moving Left work, which means following-through on the cease-fire, doing the Shebaa Farms deal, helping Lebanon’s government shore up its standing, so it can successfully disarm Hezbollah.
Ideally, Siniora would offer something to Olmert to grease that deal, but he doesn’t have the abducted Israeli soldiers. Hezbollah does.
All he can do is promise to follow a Shebaa Farms deal with maximum pressure on Hezbollah.
Which means Olmert would be taking the biggest immediate political risk.
But he should take it. His back is against the wall, and the Right won’t bail him out.
What will bail him out is results.
What will get results is dealing with Siniora and Annan — directly, without interference from those with their own agendas, like the Bush Administration.

Sunday Talkshow Breakdown

How are the neocons reacting to the UN cease-fire resolution?
They’re pushing for the downfall of the Israeli government.
Here’s Bill Kristol on Fox News Sunday:

I’m afraid the truth is that a terrorist group launched an attack across an international border a month ago.
And though they have paid some price in their own — in having a lot of stuff destroyed, basically they have not been decisively defeated…
…I’m afraid Iran is probably the winner … Iran has paid no price, zero price, for clear state sponsorship of a terrorist group attacking across an international border.
I think the Olmert government initially will be the loser, and I’d be surprised if it survives.

And here’s Charles Krauthammer, also on Fox:

I think [Olmert] falls soon.
Remember, the party he leads is not really a party. It was cobbled together as a party of [Ariel] Sharon, and Sharon is gone.
It doesn’t have any history. It’s basically a committee of people who are not colleagues, who haven’t shared ideologies … I think it falls apart and we will resume the old politics of left and right, the center having had a catastrophe.

To translate:
1. Olmert and his centrist party Kadima engaged in the war against Hezbollah that we wanted.
2. War didn’t accomplish what we thought it would. [Again – ed.]
3. But we still want our “new Middle East,” by any means necessary.
4. So let’s blame Olmert, undermine him, and try to get right-wingers in Likud back in power to do our bidding.
Having said that, this does appear to be a poorly constructed cease-fire resolution.
Why? None of the actual root causes of violence are addressed. Neither Israel nor Lebanon get anything.
The resolution punts on the occupation of Shebaa Farms and on the prisoners from both sides.
While the resolution calls for the Lebanese army to replace Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, without any political gains for the Lebanese people, the Lebanese government has less political capital with which to pressure Hezbollah to disarm.
And without disarmament, and without the return of the abducted Israeli soldiers, the Israeli people get nothing from the resolution as well.
Meaning both the Israeli and Lebanese governments may well be weakened, perhaps fatally, by this resolution.
Which could strengthen both Likud and Hezbollah, a recipe for more conflict and instability.
Now, if there is real follow-through on Shebaa Farms and on prisoner releases, the cease-fire is more likely to hold, and both governments would gain political capital.
But because those issues weren’t addressed up front, it’s politically easier for both the Israeli military and Hezbollah to continue operations leading up to, and probably after, the cease-fire deadline.
Which will make diplomatic follow-through harder.
Meanwhile, over at CNN’s Late Edition, Seymour Hersh was talking about his latest New Yorker piece on the neocons in the White House and their agenda these past few weeks:

The State Department always viewed what Israel was going to do, Condi Rice and her colleagues, as a way to … stabilize the Lebanese government and give them a chance … to take control.
The White House … talking about specifically about Cheney’s office, sort of center for the neocons — their view was different.
Israel’s attack on Hezbollah was going to be sort of a model, prototype, that is, a lot of air against a dug-in underground facility. Everything in southern Lebanon that Hezbollah had was underground.
For them it was going to be a test run for the bombing and the attack they really want to do, probably next year if they can. I’m not saying they’ve decided, but they want to go after Iran.
And Iran, of course, the Persians have been dug in since, what, the 11th century….
… This president does not want to leave the White House with that [Iran] problem unsolved, and … you cannot attack Iran as long as Hezbollah has missiles.
You have to get rid of those missiles, a potential deterrent, before you can go after Iran. That’s the way they looked at it in the White House…
… why do you think this president has spent four and a half weeks doing nothing to get an immediate cease-fire, putting no pressure on the Israelis? It’s all part of what they view as sort of a plan for what they want to do next.

In the New Yorker piece, Hersh notes that the “prototype” didn’t go very well, with Hezbollah fighting Israel to an effective draw.
And so, logic would say that this puts a crimp in the Iran plans:

According to Richard Armitage, who served as Deputy Secretary of State in Bush’s first term … Israel’s campaign in Lebanon, which has faced unexpected difficulties and widespread criticism, may, in the end, serve as a warning to the White House about Iran.
“If the most dominant military force in the region — the Israel Defense Forces — can’t pacify a country like Lebanon, with a population of four million, you should think carefully about taking that template to Iran, with strategic depth and a population of seventy million,” Armitage said. “The only thing that the bombing has achieved so far is to unite the population against the Israelis.”…

But we’re not dealing with lovers of logic. Hersh continues:

Nonetheless, some officers serving with the Joint Chiefs of Staff remain deeply concerned that the Administration will have a far more positive assessment of the air campaign than they should, [a] former senior intelligence official said.
“There is no way that Rumsfeld and Cheney will draw the right conclusion about this,” he said. “When the smoke clears, they’ll say it was a success, and they’ll draw reinforcement for their plan to attack Iran.”

You can hear the twisted arguments now: since Israel was unable to eliminate Hezbollah by itself, it’s now even more imperative that we take out Iran.

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