Be careful what you wish for

Beirut airport Beirut airport Photo: Reuters

I think we got it!

Hearing yet another news report of yet another clash in one of the ongoing, unending conflicts between sworn enemies, I've often said, "You know, they should just let them fight it out." Who could have guessed that in the current Israeli-Hezbollah battle that wish would turn out to be official US foreign policy?

Tony Auth cartoon (Click image to enlarge)

When these things erupt — Catholics vs Protestants, Sunnis vs Shiites, Hutus vs Tutsis, or whatever — the world powers usually try to step in and bring an end to the hostilities. Not so this time! Well, the rest of the world would like to, but US policy, astonishingly, is Let them fight! The "rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air" is just fine and dandy, according to Condi Rice. It's just the "birth pangs" of the new Middle East, she says.

rubble Beirut rubble Photo: Reuters

Good lord, how many times does Lebanon have to be reduced to rubble? Beirut was once considered the Paris of the Middle East, but it was destroyed in the 1980s during an Israeli invasion, and it is being pulverized again, again by the Israelis. When Israeli soldiers were kidnapped and rockets lobbed over the border, Israel struck back against the unprovoked aggression, and most considered it justified, just as the world thought the US was justified in going after Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan after the attacks of 9/11. But when Bush invaded Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, support fell away, just as support is falling away from Israel now that the bombings and carnage has spread.

woman Photo: Reuters

And in the midst of this, there is Condi refusing to work for a cease-fire that doesn't solve the root causes of the conflict. For heaven's sake, the root causes of Arab antipathy toward Jews hasn't been solved in the 50-something years since Israel was founded. What makes Condi think having a pow-wow in Italy with everybody except the people fighting is going to accomplish anything? In earlier Middle East conflicts, American diplomats shuttled endlessly back and forth between capitals. In contrast, Condi does a fly-by to Lebanon and then lands in Rome. I guess shoe shopping is probably better in Rome than in Beirut, or Damascas, or Tehran.

Meanwhile back in Baghdad, people are being slaughtered in tit-for-tat massacres by Shiite and Sunni death squads. Three years after the invasion that was supposed to be hailed as liberation, more than a year after Cheney told us the insurgency was in its "last throes," more than 100 Iraqis are being killed every day in what Stephen Hadley, W's National Security Advisor, has finally admitted is a sectarian (i.e., religious) war:

You've now seen the emergence of death squads and armed groups on right and left, and they're doing great damage to the civilian population. That's really what is new. It's something that we've seen occur since February, and it is a new challenge. This isn't about insurgency, this isn't about terror, this is about sectarian violence.
Stephen Hadley, press briefing 25-Jul-06
woman But it's not Condi, or W, or Vice who have to pay the price Photo: Reuters

We are witnessing a failed administration, unable to cope with the challenges of governing and leading.

boy Photo: Reuters

At some time in their childhood, almost everybody experiences the chaos that results when the regular teacher is out and a substitute teacher takes over who doesn't know the kids, doesn't know how the classroom is run, doesn't know how to keep order, doesn't know— That's what we have now, a substitute president, and I for one can't wait until we get a real president back.