When Israel answered the Hezbollah raid that captured
two soldiers with air strikes on Lebanon's airport, runways, gas stations, lighthouses,
bridges, buses, apartment houses, and power plants, we who questioned the wisdom
and morality of what Israel was doing were denounced as anti-Israel or anti-Semitic.
Turns out we were right. In private, even Israeli army generals were raging
that Israel was fighting a stupid, losing war.
Ehud Olmert, who gave Chief of Staff Dan Halutz the green light to launch the
shock-and-awe air campaign, cannot survive the moral, political, and strategic
disaster his country has suffered.
While the Israeli air force was hammering Lebanon, Hezbollah rained down 3,000
rockets on Israel and fought off pinprick raids. When the Israeli army, after
a month, moved in force against the real enemy, Hezbollah, Israel had already
suffered irreparable damage to its reputation as a fighting nation and a moral
As the war began, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Bahrain all condemned Hezbollah,
as did the Beirut government, for inciting the war. But with Hezbollah's defiant
resistance, as Israel smashed up Lebanon, the Arab street rallied to Nasrallah.
Arab regimes followed.
Lebanon, which suffered 800 dead, thousands injured, and 1 million made refugees,
saw its infrastructure destroyed and nation set back 20 years. If the government
falls or Lebanon becomes a failed state, it will be an even greater calamity
for the Lebanese, and for Israel and the Middle East. For the mightiest political
and military force in Lebanon, and likely heir apparent to power slipping away
from Prime Minister Siniora, is now Hezbollah and Hassan Nasrallah.
Walid Jumblatt, savage critic of Hezbollah and its Syrian alliance, "Hassan
Nasrallah has won militarily and politically, and has become a new leader like
Another loser is Israel, and Olmert, who seized on the border skirmish to launch
his Lebanon war. Writes
Ari Shavit of Ha'aretz:
"Chutzpah has its limits. You cannot lead an entire nation to war promising
victory, produce humiliating defeats, and remain in power. You cannot bury 120
Israelis in cemeteries, keep a million Israelis in shelters for a month, wear
down deterrent power, bring the next war very close, and then say, oops, I made
Olmert and Halutz are history. The Kadima Party regime will fall. Left and
Right are already tearing at its flanks.
What does this mean? The Sharon-Olmert policy of unilateral withdrawal
from the territories is dead. The Hamas-led Palestinian authority, the creation
of the freest and fairest elections ever held in Palestine, is on a death watch,
after Israel's starvation blockade and ravaging of the Gaza Strip, which has
left 150 Palestinians dead.
A new Israeli regime will not withdraw from any more land, nor shut down any
more settlements, nor vacate any part of Jerusalem, nor negotiate with a Palestinian
Authority led by Hamas, or by a PLO that is unable to disarm Hamas. We are at
a dead end, as George W. Bush will not push the Israelis to do anything, nor
America is another loser.
The United States knew in advance Israel planned to attack and, if possible,
destroy Hezbollah. And America approved.
But when Olmert launched an air war on Lebanon, instead, Bush cheered him
on, refused to rein in attacks on civilian targets, sent smart bombs and used
U.S. influence at the United Nations to block an early cease-fire. Bush-Cheney
are thus morally and politically culpable for what was done to Lebanon and the
democratic government there that was born of a "Cedar Revolution" George Bush
himself had championed.
Congress poodled along with Bush, so Bush will not be called to account, as
he would be were any other nation but Israel involved. From Morocco to the Gulf,
there is probably not a country today that would welcome Bush, or where he would
be safe on a state visit.
Where does this leave us? With Israel's failure to achieve its strategic
objectives in Lebanon and America having failed to attain its strategic objectives
in Iraq, Nasrallah emerges triumphant, and Syria and Iran emerge unscathed and
What comes next? That is obvious.
With our War Party discredited by the failed policies it cheered on in Lebanon
and Iraq, there will come a clamor that Bush must "go to the source" of all
our difficulty – Iran. Only thus can the War Party redeem itself for having
pushed us and Israel into two unnecessary and ruinous wars. And the drumbeat
for war on Iran has already begun.
"[T]he dangers continue to mount abroad," wails
The Weekly Standard in its lead editorial. "How Bush deals with Ahmadinejad's
terror-supporting and nuclear-weapons pursuing Iran will be the test" of his
administration. Yes, the supreme test.
Bush is on notice from the neocons and War Party that have all but destroyed
his presidency: Either you take down Iran, Mr. Bush, or you are a failed president.
If the president is still listening to these people, Lord help the Republic.
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