Last week I decided not to discuss the newly agreed cease-fire in
There are two possible explanations of what happened. Either State Department officials got through to their boss, who in turn got through to the White House, that the American position in the Arab world would collapse completely if the fighting continued much longer, or else the Israelis decided that further indecisive conflict with 100 rockets falling in
Rice began her interview by claiming that the international force was a crucial element of the agreement and claiming that it had the right to defend itself if Hezbollah stood in its way, but she quickly had to backtrack and admit that no one expected the international force physically to disarm Hezbollah. Instead, she postponed the day of reckoning, citing once again the UN resolution (1559) that has already asked for the disarmament of Hezbollah and counting upon the international community. To wit:
“And that the Lebanese Government has already undertaken an obligation to do that. Now we will see whether Hezbollah, which is — after all, has ministers in the Lebanese Government, is prepared to live up to those international obligations. We will see who is for peace and who isn't. We will see whether Hezbollah has taken the lesson that everyone in the international community understands, that you can't have one foot in politics and one foot in terror.
“But this time, we'll make it very clear; if there is resistance to the obligations that the Lebanese Government has undertaken, then there will be a problem and Hezbollah will have to face the international community and Hezbollah supporters will have the face the international community.”
Pressed again on what would happen if Hezbollah did not disarm, she claimed they had been dislodged from their positions in the South (as indeed they have in the small strip occupied by the Israelis), and added:
“And then I think there will be a lot of pressure on Hezbollah to make a choice and if, in fact, they make the wrong choice, one would have to assume that there will be others who are willing to call Hezbollah what we are willing to call it, which is a terrorist organization.
In other words, although not enough of the world agreed with the
“Already, we hear Hezbollah trying to claim victory. But others, in
The problem, of course, is that virtually every report out of
President Bush, in his news conference on August 14, began more directly by blaming Hezbollah for the whole conflict (with much justice, since they clearly intended to incite it), and blaming
“ First of all, if I were Hezbollah I'd be claiming victory, too. But the people around the region and the world need to take a step back and recognize that Hezbollah's action created a very strong reaction that, unfortunately, caused some people to lose their life, innocent people to lose their life. But on the other hand, it was Hezbollah that caused the destruction.
“People have got to understand -- and it will take time, Andrea, it will take time for people to see the truth -- that Hezbollah hides behind innocent civilians as they attack. What's really interesting is a mind-set -- is the mind-sets of this crisis.
“And so, Hezbollah, of course, has got a fantastic propaganda machine and they're claiming victories and -- but how can you claim victory when at one time you were a state within a state, safe within southern Lebanon, and now you're going to be replaced by a Lebanese army and an international force? And that's what we're now working on, is to get the international force in southern
“None of this would have happened, by the way, had we -- had 1559, Resolution 1559 been fully implemented. Now is the time to get it implemented. And it's going to take a lot of work. No question about it. And no question that it's a different kind of war than people are used to seeing. We're fighting the same kind of war. We don't fight the armies of nation states; we fight terrorists who kill innocent people to achieve political objectives. And it's a hard fight, and requires different tactics. And it requires solid will from those of us who understand the stakes.”
. . . . . .. .
“And you asked about
Q I'm sorry. How can the international force or the
THE PRESIDENT: “The first step is -- and part of the mandate in the U.N. resolution was to secure
“But, as well, there's a diplomatic mission that needs to be accomplished. The world must now recognize that it's Iranian sponsorship of Hezbollah that exacerbated the situation in the
“I know they claim they didn't have anything to do with it, but sophisticated weaponry ended up in the hands of Hezbollah fighters, and many assume, and many believe that that weaponry came from
“And so the task is more than just helping the Siniora government; the task is also -- and the task is not just
And we'll continue working with our partners to do that, just that.”
The President’s statement, like so many of his statements on
Ironically, these statements begin to recognize, in a backhanded fashion, that the United States cannot accomplish all that much in the world without an international consensus behind it. That is why the foreign policy establishment has opposed the thrust of Bush Administration foreign policy from the beginning, and events are proving them right. Unfortunately, the neoconservatives in and around the Administration still hold a strong contempt for international opinion, and I am wondering, indeed, how long it will take for Bill Kristol, Charles Krauthammer and company to start blasting the deal as appeasement. (So far Kristol has been silent and Krauthammer, while disappointed, clearly remains hopeful.) Rather than actually take internatonal opinion seriously, however, the Bush Administration will probably continue to assume, rhetorically, that the rest of the world is bound to see the light.
What does all this mean for the future? I see two possibilities. In the first, the
But the second possibility is that the President and Secretary of State take seriously the implication of their statements (and the President’s accidentally recorded remarks to Tony Blair) that the real problem is not Hezbollah, but