After a week of dithering, the Bush Administration has finally decided to send Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the Middle East. But when Condi arrives on Friday, ten days after the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah began, she won’t try and push for an immediate ceasefire.
In 1993 and 1996, Secretary of State Warren Christopher launched a vigorous push for diplomacy that quieted fighting between the Israeli army and Lebanese militants. But today, according to the Wall Street Journal, Bush and Rice “have no intention of launching a similar round of diplomacy to end the current fighting. Visiting Damascus is out of the question. And a cease-fire isn’t their most pressing aim, they say.”
No, Condi’s belatedly stopping by “to build support for the effective crippling of Hezbollah.” An ambitious goal, but shouldn’t an end to the violence come first?
As the WSJ notes, the continued Israeli bombing and recent incursion into South Lebanon will likely only strengthen the standing of Hezbollah and Iran, while weakening the fragile, anti-Syrian, government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. If Hezbollah attacks Tel Aviv and Israel responds by hitting Syria, the entire region could go up in flames.
That’s why “many top officials in Europe and Arab capitals are calling for a far speedier end to the current fighting than Washington supports. Some are calling for the introduction of international peacekeeping forces into Southern Lebanon.”
Not surprisingly, the Bush Administration has thus far brushed off that idea, similar to the way they belittled the Clinton Administration’s peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and then did nothing to push the so-called “road map” for peace.
Their only policy towards the region seems to have been the invasion of Iraq. A world of good that’s done.