Monday :: Jul 31, 2006

The Shrinking Presidency

by Steve

AP Photo

While I ignore the bloodlusting nonsense from the right wing blogs, pundits, and trolls about blaming yesterday’s atrocity on Hezbollah, I cannot ignore how Bush has screwed up the Middle East. For five years, Bush has gotten away with using 9-11 to disregard one of the root causes of the regional dysfunction, namely the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian death match. But last week’s events and the administration’s horrendous blind support for Israel’s actions have not only allowed Iran, Syria, and even the moderate states to reintroduce the root cause argument, but more importantly have set the stage for Iraq to finally tip out of control and unravel.

We have made it very difficult, if not impossible for the moderate states like Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia to stand anywhere near us. The fragile Lebanese government is now supporting Hezbollah as an army of self-defense against the IDF; this should have been avoided at all costs. We had a sliver of a chance to see if we could have pried Syria away from Iran and Hezbollah through a deal on the Golan Heights, but I suspect that opportunity vanished in Bush’s ongoing stupid Cheneyesque rhetoric. And up until yesterday according to Sam Gardiner, there were even indications that Iran was amenable to drying up the support for Hezbollah in exchange for a grand deal, but after Qana those chances also are lost, as this major propaganda opportunity has fallen into their lap at a time when the UN was ready to keep the heat on Tehran for its nuclear ambitions.

Yet today, Bush continues to insist that no cease fire will take place until Iran and Syria take steps that they need not take after yesterday. Bush acts as if he can still pressure anyone to do anything in the Middle East. He no longer can. Why would Iran and Syria agree to do anything when they now have the whip hand and aren’t being offered anything in return? They need only wait for more and more world support to swing their way, knowing that China and Russia have already taken advantage of the Cheney stumble to side strategically with the Shiites. Bush acts like a cardshark dealing deuces when there are already four Aces on the table.

Israel has told the world that it must keep going, even as it continued bombing the area while rescue workers were trying to pull children from the rubble yesterday. But what will this cost us in Iraq? The Iraqi vice president today blasted Israel for Qana, and more ominously Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani also put Bush on notice for an immediate cease fire, certainly as a result of the increasing rage coming from Muqtada al-Sadr and his militias. Is it only a matter of time before the Shiite militias come after the American occupiers, with the government and Sistani’s condemnation fresh in their minds?

Bush’s handling of Lebanon is about to deliver what Bin Laden had yet been unable to: a linking of common grievances amongst Sunnis and Shiites against the United States and Israel in a crescent stretching thousands of miles. And this will happen while Iraq supports Hezbollah, making our soldiers extremely vulnerable in the coming weeks.

Steve :: 10:58 AM :: Comments (37) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!