-- -- When Israeli Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert unleashed his navy and air force on Lebanon, accusing
that tiny nation of an "act of war," the last pillar of Bush's
Middle East policy collapsed.
First came capitulation on the Bush Doctrine, as Pyongyang
and Tehran defied Bush's dictum: The world's worst regimes will
not be allowed to acquire the world's worst weapons. Then came
suspension of the democracy crusade as Islamic militants
exploited free elections to advance to power and office in
Egypt, Lebanon, Gaza, the West Bank, Iraq and Iran.
Now, Israel's rampage against a defenseless Lebanon –
smashing airport runways, fuel tanks, power plants, gas
stations, lighthouses, bridges, roads and the occasional refugee
convoy – has exposed Bush's folly in subcontracting U.S. policy
out to Tel Aviv, thus making Israel the custodian of our
reputation and interests in the Middle East.
The Lebanon that Israel, with Bush's blessing, is smashing up
has a pro-American government, heretofore considered a shining
example of his democracy crusade. Yet, asked in St. Petersburg
if he would urge Israel to use restraint in its airstrikes, Bush
sounded less like the leader of the Free World than some
bellicose city councilman from Brooklyn Heights.
What Israel is up to was described by its army chief of
staff, Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz, when he threatened to "turn back the
clock in Lebanon 20 years."
Olmert seized upon Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli
soldiers to unleash the IDF in a pre-planned attack to make the
Lebanese people suffer until the Lebanese government disarms
Hezbollah, a task the Israeli army could not accomplish in 18
years of occupation.
Israel is doing the same to the Palestinians. To punish these
people for the crime of electing Hamas, Olmert imposed an
economic blockade of Gaza and the West Bank and withheld the $50
million in monthly tax and customs receipts due the
Then, Israel instructed the United States to terminate all
aid to the Palestinian Authority, though Bush himself had called
for the elections and for the participation of Hamas. Our
Crawford cowboy meekly complied.
The predictable result: Fatah and Hamas fell to fratricidal
fighting, and Hamas militants began launching Qassam rockets
over the fence from Gaza into Israel. Hamas then tunneled into
Israel, killed two soldiers, captured one, took him back into
Gaza and demanded a prisoner exchange.
Israel's response was to abduct half of the Palestinian
cabinet and parliament and blow up a $50 million U.S.-insured
power plant. That cut off electricity for half a million
Palestinians. Their food spoiled, their water could not be
purified, and their families sweltered in the summer heat of the
Gaza desert. One family of seven was wiped out on a beach by
what the IDF assures us was an errant artillery shell.
Let it be said: Israel has a right to defend herself, a right
to counter-attack against Hezbollah and Hamas, a right to clean
out bases from which Katyusha or Qassam rockets are being fired
and a right to occupy land from which attacks are mounted on her
But what Israel is doing is imposing deliberate suffering on
civilians, collective punishment on innocent people, to force
them to do something they are powerless to do: disarm the gunmen
among them. Such a policy violates international law and
comports neither with our values nor our interests. It is
un-American and un-Christian.
But where are the Christians? Why is Pope Benedict virtually
alone among Christian leaders to have spoken out against what is
being done to Lebanese Christians and Muslims?
When al-Qaida captured two U.S. soldiers and barbarically
butchered them, the U.S. Army did not smash power plants across
the Sunni Triangle. Why then is Bush not only silent but openly
supportive when Israelis do this?
Democrats attack Bush for crimes of which he is not guilty,
including Haditha and Abu Ghraib. Why are they, too, silent when
Israel pursues a conscious policy of collective punishment of
Britain's diplomatic goal in two world wars was to bring the
naive cousins in, to "pull their chestnuts out of the fire."
Israel and her paid and pro-bono agents here appear determined
to expand the Iraq war into Syria and Iran, and have America
fight and finish all of Israel's enemies.
That Tel Aviv is maneuvering us to fight its wars is
understandable. That Americans are ignorant of, or complicit in
this, is deplorable.
Already, Bush is ranting about Syria being behind the
Hezbollah capture of the Israeli soldiers. But where is the
Who is whispering in his ear? The same people who told him
Iraq was maybe months away from an atom bomb, that an invasion
would be a "cakewalk," that he would be Churchill, that U.S.
troops would be greeted with candy and flowers, that democracy
would break out across the region, that Palestinians and
Israelis would then sit down and make peace?
How much must America pay for the education of this man?
© 2006 Creators Syndicate Inc.