Bill Totten's Weblog

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Errand Boy/Girl

by Charley Reese

King Features Syndicate (August 04 2006)

For the second time in the Bush II administration, the US secretary of state has been reduced to an errand boy/girl for the state of Israel. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell performed the service for Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and now his successor is doing the same for Sharon's successor, Ehud Olmert.

The offer Condoleezza Rice made to the Lebanese government was exactly the position of the Israeli government: Give up the two Israeli soldiers, disarm and disband, and pull back from the Israeli borders. Though American television protected her, her pathetic offer got her scolded and laughed at in Lebanon.

The American plan, no doubt arrived at in cahoots with the Israelis before this latest unpleasantness began, is to prevent the rest of the world from imposing an immediate cease-fire until the Israelis have time to destroy Hezbollah. Unfortunately for the Bush scheme, that is proving to be far more difficult and time-consuming than either the US or Israel had figured.

In the meantime, the lopsided casualties (400 Lebanese dead to Israel's nineteen dead civilians as of this writing) and the horrific destruction of Lebanon's infrastructure are causing the Israeli public-relations machine as many problems as the guerrillas are causing the Israeli killing machine. Even some of the American television reporters, who often act as if they are on the Israeli government payroll, can't help but notice the disproportionate misery being created by the war.

Fox News laughably spent a lot of airtime showing video of a brush fire and two potholes created by Katyusha rockets when they fell harmlessly in the middle of an empty Israeli street and in an empty field. Of course, we have bigger, more threatening wildfires and potholes in the US. Fox News, however, is committed to being fair and balanced. Therefore, if Fox shows whole blocks of apartments destroyed in Beirut, it must show damage in Israel, even if it's two potholes and a brush fire.

The US rationalization for not seeking an immediate cease-fire is itself bizarre. Here we are offering a pittance (yes, in Washington terms, $30 million is a pittance) and sympathy to the Lebanese while at the same time encouraging Israel to heap even more destruction and death on them. An immediate cease-fire, Condi says, wouldn't bring enduring peace. Perhaps not, but it would bring relief from the bombs, bullets, rockets and artillery shells. And what cease-fire has ever brought enduring peace to anyone anywhere?

She continues to talk about a nonexistent international force of peacekeepers, but what countries wish to put their soldiers between two warring factions? The US and Great Britain have already said: "Sorry, but we are busy wasting our soldiers' lives elsewhere. We have our fiascoes in Iraq and Afghanistan and simply can't afford to join the Lebanon fiasco."

The truth is that the US is simply stalling to give the Israelis enough time to destroy Hezbollah, and if they destroy Lebanon in the process, well, that's just collateral damage. I personally don't see how Syria is going to stay out of it. Syria wants to stay out because the Israelis can defeat their forces. Israel doesn't want to fight Syria because of Israel's strategic weakness - too few people in too small a country. Israel can win battles, but then it can't afford to occupy the country whose army it defeats. Though neither country wants a war, events have a way of sucking countries into them.

For a long time I believed that World War I was the most stupid war ever fought in human history, but by golly, the brain-dead governments in Washington and Tel Aviv might yet blunder into one that surpasses it.

That would be fitting, as the present-day Middle East, with all its problems, was created by the winners of World War I.

Copyright (c) 2006 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

Bill Totten


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