When Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert unleashed
his navy and air force on Lebanon, accusing that tiny nation of an "act of war,"
the last pillar of Bush's Middle East policy collapsed.
First came capitulation on the Bush Doctrine, as Pyongyang and Tehran defied
Bush's dictum: The world's worst regimes will not be allowed to acquire the
world's worst weapons. Then came suspension of the democracy crusade as Islamic
militants exploited free elections to advance to power and office in Egypt,
Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank, Iraq, and Iran.
Now Israel's rampage against a defenseless Lebanon – smashing airport runways,
fuel tanks, power plants, gas stations, lighthouses, bridges, roads, and the
occasional refugee convoy – has exposed Bush's folly in subcontracting U.S.
policy out to Tel Aviv, thus making Israel the custodian of our reputation and
interests in the Middle East.
The Lebanon that Israel, with Bush's blessing, is smashing up has a pro-American
government, heretofore considered a shining example of his democracy crusade.
Yet, asked in St. Petersburg if he would urge Israel to use restraint in its
air strikes, Bush sounded less like the leader of the Free World than some bellicose
city councilman from Brooklyn Heights.
What Israel is up to was described by its Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen.
Dan Halutz when he threatened to "turn back the clock in Lebanon 20 years."
Olmert seized upon Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers to unleash
the IDF in a pre-planned attack to make the Lebanese people suffer until the
Lebanese government disarms Hezbollah, a task the Israeli army could not accomplish
in 18 years of occupation.
Israel is doing the same to the Palestinians. To punish these people for
the crime of electing Hamas, Olmert imposed an economic blockade of Gaza and
the West Bank and withheld the $50 million in monthly tax and customs receipts
due the Palestinians.
Then, Israel instructed the United States to terminate all aid to the Palestinian
Authority, though Bush himself had called for the elections and for the participation
of Hamas. Our Crawford cowboy meekly complied.
The predictable result: Fatah and Hamas fell to fratricidal fighting, and
Hamas militants began launching Qassam rockets over the fence from Gaza into
Israel. Hamas then tunneled into Israel, killed two soldiers, captured one,
took him back into Gaza, and demanded a prisoner exchange.
Israel's response was to abduct half of the Palestinian cabinet and parliament
and blow up a $50 million U.S.-insured power plant. That cut off electricity
for half a million Palestinians. Their food spoiled, their water could not be
purified, and their families sweltered in the summer heat of the Gaza desert.
One family of seven was wiped out on a beach by what the IDF assures us was
an errant artillery shell.
Let it be said: Israel has a right to defend herself, a right to counterattack
against Hezbollah and Hamas, a right to clean out bases from which Katyusha
or Qassam rockets are being fired, and a right to occupy land from which attacks
are mounted on her people.
But what Israel is doing is imposing deliberate suffering on civilians,
collective punishment on innocent people, to force them to do something they
are powerless to do: disarm the gunmen among them. Such a policy violates international
law and comports neither with our values nor our interests. It is un-American
But where are the Christians? Why is Pope Benedict virtually alone among
Christian leaders to have spoken out against what is being done to Lebanese
Christians and Muslims?
When al-Qaeda captured two U.S. soldiers and barbarically butchered them,
the U.S. Army did not smash power plants across the Sunni Triangle. Why then
is Bush not only silent but openly supportive when Israelis do this?
Democrats attack Bush for crimes of which he is not guilty, including Haditha
and Abu Ghraib. Why are they, too, silent when Israel pursues a conscious policy
of collective punishment of innocent peoples?
Britain's diplomatic goal in two world wars was to bring the naive cousins
in, to "pull their chestnuts out of the fire." Israel and her paid and pro-bono
agents here appear determined to expand the Iraq war into Syria and Iran, and
have America fight and finish all of Israel's enemies.
That Tel Aviv is maneuvering us to fight its wars is understandable. That
Americans are ignorant of, or complicit in this, is deplorable.
Already, Bush is ranting about Syria being behind the Hezbollah capture
of the Israeli soldiers. But where is the proof?
Who is whispering in his ear? The same people who told him Iraq was maybe
months away from an atom bomb, that an invasion would be a "cakewalk," that
he would be Churchill, that U.S. troops would be greeted with candy and flowers,
that democracy would break out across the region, that Palestinians and Israelis
would then sit down and make peace?
How much must America pay for the education of this man?
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