Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Hell ... handbasket optional
CNN just reported that as yet, President Bush has not spoken to Ehud Olmert. Wha??? Talk about being a bit player in the drama of all dramas. Condi Rice is left to pretty much fend for herself while literally, the Middle East burns...

CNN also reports that the Pentagon is preparing to airlift some 25,000 U.S. citizens out of Beirut, which will be tricky since Israel is destroying Lebanon's infrastructure, including the airport runways in that city. And if the U.S. sends in military units to get our people out, and some of the civilians or military people are killed, what the hell happens then? Do we get sucked into the war? With all of this on the table, exactly what is Mr. Bush waiting for to intervene? Perhaps he's waiting for Israel to finish his neocon friends' little project...

Here's the latest in the Lebanese quandary, where Hezbollah is saying bring on the war, while the government there is pleading for peace and for help from the impotent United Nations.

Meanwhile, oil prices are soaring, the Dow is sinking ... not that that is more important than the human lives being wasted on both sides of this truly scary conflict...

Update: Israel has taken out the Palestinian economic ministry. What that has to do with getting its soldiers back from Hezbollah is anybody's guess. But it's clear that destroying every facet of Arab infrastructure, and cutting the legs out from under the Palestinians is a major part of the plan. One question though: if Israel decimates civil society in Lebanon and Palestine, what do they think will fill the vaccum? More terrorism is a good guess.

Also, reports say an Israeli passenger ship was attacked by Hezbollah:
BEIRUT, Lebanon - Hezbollah reportedly rammed an Israeli warship with an unmanned aircraft rigged with explosives Friday, setting it ablaze after Israeli warplanes smashed Lebanon's links to the world one by one and destroyed the headquarters and home of the Islamic guerrilla group's leader.

The attack on the warship off Beirut's Mediterranean coast indicated Hezbollah has added a new weapon to the arsenal of rockets and mortars it has used against Israel.

The Israeli army said the ship suffered severe damage and was on fire hours later as it headed home. There were no details on the ship's crew, though Al-Jazeera TV said the Israeli military was searching for four missing sailors.

And the president has issued a rather supine call for Israeli restraint, even as the Saudis issue some surprising criticism of Hezbollah's "uncalculated adventures" which are clearly undermining the already weak Lebanese government.

Unfortunately, the extremists on both sides are getting what they want, even as civilians suffer.

Over at Newsweek, Eleanor Clift, who is just back from the Lebanon/Israel border, codifies my speculation:
The rise of a political center in Israel is the most important political development since the right-wing Likud displaced the liberal Labor Party in 1977. But Kadima, which means “forward” in Hebrew, is still more of a mood than an ideology, and the rise of extremist groups like Hamas and Hizbullah threaten Kadima’s very reason for being. The coalition headed by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is the first totally civilian government, and there is no one in power with real military leadership experience. Israelis agree on one thing: that if you convey weakness to the Arab world, the consequences on the ground will be disastrous. Olmert must be tough, but he has done it in ways that are counterproductive. For example, we were told that the initial bombing of Gaza took out the transformers that supply electricity. Transformers have to be ordered from abroad, which takes time. In the meantime, Gaza gets 50-60 percent of its electricity from Israel anyway, and having bombed Gaza’s electric plants, Israel had to boost the supply it was sending into Gaza. It’s hard to see what Israel gained from this venture other than worldwide condemnation.

Washington recoils from anything that looks like collective punishment on the Palestinians. But practicing restraint in urban warfare is an oxymoron. The fact that President Bush has two more years in office is vital to how Olmert handles this crisis. Bush is popular in Israel even though he didn’t take an activist approach to solving the Palestinian question. It’s understood that Bush will green light just about anything the Israelis do.

In Israel, we heard repeatedly that this is the first phase of the next war and that it’s about more than Hamas and Hizbullah, it’s about Syria and Iran, and stopping an Iranian nuclear weapon program. There’s a growing realization in Israel that given Bush’s domestic weakness, this may require a unilateral Israeli strike. We were told the only thing that frightens Israel more is no one doing it.
In other words, the weakness of what Clift on the Drunken Master's "McLaughlin Group" tonight called our "ineffective authoritarian" (as opposed to the highly effective authoritarian Vlad Putin...) is feeding the beast of Middle East war.

And the reason for Bush's weakness? The collossal, all-time blunder called the invasion of Iraq.

Tags: Israel, Lebanon, Palestine, Terrorism, Hamas, Politics, Middle East, Iran, Gaza
posted by JReid @ 6:18 PM  
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