Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Israel digs in deeper
From the Associated Press:

BOURJ AL-MULOUK, Lebanon (AP) - Israel launched its deepest ground strike into Lebanon on Wednesday, claiming it killed 10 Hezbollah guerrillas and captured five in the northeastern city of Baalbek, while nearby air raids killed at least 15 civilians.

Israeli warplanes also attacked a Lebanese army base in the southern part of the country, killing three soldiers, a security official said.

Hezbollah guerrillas hit back, firing at least 150 rockets at towns across northern Israel, killing one person and wounding at least 17, Israeli police said.

Israel medics said one of the rockets hit near the town of Beit Shean, the deepest rocket strike into Israel so far. Witnesses in Israel also reported that a Hezbollah rocket hit the West Bank for the first time, striking between the villages of Fakua and Jalboun, near Beit Shean.

Lebanese security officials said Hezbollah had fired more than 300 rockets since dawn Wednesday. The discrepancy in the number of launches could not immediately be reconciled.

As the fighting escalated, Israel sent up to 10,000 armored troops across the border into southern Lebanon on Tuesday, Israeli defense officials said. Thousands more were gathering at staging areas on the Israeli side of the border, ready to join the battles.

The ferocity of the battles in Baalbek and across southern Lebanon, coupled with the determination of the Israelis to keep fighting and the minimal diplomatic progress toward a cease-fire so far, indicated the three-week-old war is likely to escalate further.

In an interview in Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told The Associated Press the fighting will stop only once an international peacekeeping force is in place in southern Lebanon.
At this stage, however, one wonders whether that force would be protecting the Lebanese and Israeli people, or whether it would simply be subborning a fresh Israeli occupation of Lebanon... From the right wing Jerusalem Post (Wolf Blitzer's old outfit, when he wasn't flacking for AIPAC):

While the IDF needs until the end of the week to deal Hizbullah a fatal blow, the military is prepared to remain in southern Lebanon for as long as it takes, even several months, until a multinational force takes control of the territory, IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday.

"The IDF knows how to operate for as long as it takes even if it means remaining in the territory for a long time," Kaplinsky told the Post during a visit to a military base along the northern border. The general said the IDF was currently working according to an operational plan in which IDF troops would push their way through southern Lebanon until the Litani River, some 40 kilometers from the border with Israel. But if necessary, he said, the IDF was prepared to travel even further northward.
Meanwhile, the NY Times reports that Dubya's zeal for Zion is making his dad's crowd uneasy ... ya think??? The story starts with an alarming look at the naivte ... and sheer goofiness ... of our commander in chief:

WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 — When they first met as United States president and Israeli prime minister, George W. Bush made clear to Ariel Sharon he would not follow in the footsteps of his father.

The first President Bush had been tough on Israel, especially the Israeli settlements in occupied lands that Mr. Sharon had helped develop. But over tea in the Oval Office that day in March 2001 — six months before the Sept. 11 attacks tightened their bond — the new president signaled a strong predisposition to support Israel.

“He told Sharon in that first meeting that I’ll use force to protect Israel, which was kind of a shock to everybody,” said one person present, given anonymity to speak about a private conversation. “It was like, ‘Whoa, where did that come from?’ “

That embrace of Israel represents a generational and philosophical divide between the Bushes, one that is exacerbating the friction that has been building between their camps of advisers and loyalists over foreign policy more generally. As the president continues to stand by Israel in its campaign against Hezbollah — even after a weekend attack that left many Lebanese civilians dead and provoked international condemnation — some advisers to the father are expressing deep unease with the Israel policies of the son.

“The current approach simply is not leading toward a solution to the crisis, or even a winding down of the crisis,” said Richard N. Haass, who advised the first President Bush on the Middle East and worked as a senior State Department official in the current president’s first term. “There are times at which a hands-off policy can be justified. It’s not obvious to me that this is one of them.”

Unlike the first President Bush, who viewed himself as a neutral arbiter in the delicate politics of the Middle East, the current president sees his role through the prism of the fight against terrorism. This President Bush, unlike his father, also has deep roots in the evangelical Christian community, a staunchly pro-Israeli component of his conservative Republican base.

The first President Bush came to the Oval Office with long diplomatic experience, strong ties to Arab leaders and a realpolitik view that held the United States should pursue its own strategic interests, not high-minded goals like democracy, even if it meant negotiating with undemocratic governments like Syria and Iran.

The current President Bush has practically cut off Syria and Iran, overlaying his fight against terrorism with the aim of creating what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls “a new Middle East.” In allying himself so closely with Israel, he has departed not just from his father’s approach but also from those of all his recent predecessors, who saw themselves first and foremost as brokers in the region.

In a speech Monday in Miami, Mr. Bush offered what turned out to be an implicit criticism of his father’s approach.

“The current crisis is part of a larger struggle between the forces of freedom and the forces of terror in the Middle East,” Mr. Bush said. “For decades, the status quo in the Middle East permitted tyranny and terror to thrive. And as we saw on September the 11th, the status quo in the Middle East led to death and destruction in the United States.”

Now, as Mr. Bush faces growing pressure from Arab leaders and European allies to end the current wave of violence, these differences between father and son have come into sharp relief.

“There is a danger in a policy in which there is no daylight whatsoever between the government of Israel and the government of the United States,” said Aaron David Miller, an Arab-Israeli negotiator for both Bush administrations, who has high praise for James A. Baker III, the first President Bush’s secretary of state. “Bush One and James Baker would never have allowed that to happen.”
... and when the administration of Bush I starts to look good to me, I KNOW we're going to hell in a handbasket.

Last but not least, what at this point are Israel's objectives? According to Haaretz, they're lowering their standards...

for all the speeches, this conflict is lacking the kind of image that will help make it memorable - images like the paratroopers at the Western Wall or Ariel Sharon with a bandage around his head. What will the image of the second Lebanon war be?

Officials at the prime minister's bureau say it will be the image of soldiers in the multinational force who will deploy on the Lebanese side of the Blue Line and at the Syrian and Lebanese border crossings. It's hard to believe, but there you have it: The Israeli political elite are looking forward to the arrival of Captain Francoise of the French Foreign Legion and his comrades, who will be stationed on the border along with Lebanese army units. That hadn't crossed anyone's mind three weeks ago, and now it's the objective of the Israeli war; Olmert promised to continue fighting until the international army takes control of positions and villages that Hezbollah had been using until the war.
Well, just so there's a goal.

Tags: , , , , , , , Bush, Hezbollah, Israel, Lebanon, Politics, war, Iran, Iraq,
posted by JReid @ 9:28 AM  
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