It was a candid moment. President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair were chatting over lunch at the Group of Eight summit in St. Petersburg on Monday when a Russian microphone sitting in front of Bush was unknowingly live. After almost three minutes of Bush/Blair uncut (we saw Bush eating with his mouth open and found out he prefers Diet Coke), the focal point of their conversation took a turn toward the Israel/Lebanon conflict.
Bush confided in Blair that getting Syria to intervene would end the conflict immediately. “See, the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hizbullah to stop doing this shit and it’s over.” And howâ€™s he going to do that? By threatening Syria Iâ€™m sure.
Hearing Bush tell it, one would think that the latest bloodshed in the Middle East is the result of Hizbullahâ€™s barbaric habits, not Israelâ€™s. But the entire reason Hizbullah even exists is because of Israelâ€™s invasion of Lebanon in 1982. As Lebanon based writer Bilal El-Amine writes in the forthcoming print edition of Left Turn:
â€œAn amalgam of political party, armed resistance and social movement, Hizbullah (â€œParty of Godâ€) was born of a perfect storm that saw the convergence of several factors in the early 1980s: 1) the long-term changes inside the Shia community, described at length above, 2) the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, and 3) the 1982 Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon. Although Iranian support was certainly critical to the emergence of the party, the Israeli invasion appears to have been the decisive factor.â€
Hizbullah has remained a popular organization throughout Lebanon and much of the Middle East. Putting resistance before radical Islamic beliefs, Hizbullah has garnered great support from diverse sects in the region, which is quite rare among radical Islamic movements. After fending off Israelâ€™s invasion of Southern Lebanon in the early 1980s, Hizbullah again grew in popularity when Israelâ€™s military aggression in April of 1996 resulted in the massacre in the village of Qana where 108 innocent civilians were mutilated.
Bushâ€™s off-the-cuff remark to Tony Blair in St. Petersburg deliberately ignored the deep history of Hizbullah, which is deemed a terrorist organization by the state of Israel and the US State Department. And lest you forgot, it was Israel who marched forces into Lebanon earlier this month, not the other way around. Hizbullah then entered Israel can captured two Israeli soldiers. But of course only Israel has the right to defend themselves. Not Lebanon or Palestine.
Unfortunately, there arenâ€™t any leading Democrats standing up to Bushâ€™s unapprised diplomacy. Senator Hillary Clinton says sheâ€™ll support â€œwhatever steps are necessaryâ€ for Israel to prevail. I wonder if sheâ€™ll support another slaughter like that in Qana?
Rep. Nancy Pelosi took Clintonâ€™s remarks a bit further, clarifying the Democratsâ€™ position, â€œThe House Democratic leadership strongly condemns the seizure of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah terrorists operating from Lebanon … Israel has an inherent right to defend itself, and the United States supports our ally.” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid also chimed in, â€œHezbollah must be dismantled, and all nations have an obligation to cease any and all assistance to this terrorist organization. Israel has a right to live in peace and security, and the United States will stand by our ally in this difficult time.”
One would expect such perverse language from the neocons, but sadly the Democrats are just as heinous when it comes to supporting Israel aggression. How are these clowns going to end the war in Iraq if they continue to support hostility that is only escalating the tension between the West and Arab countries?
If the Bush administration and their Democratic enablers were truly serious about ending the violence in the Middle East, the first honest step would be for the US to cut off all funding to Israel. But I think we are more likely to see Syria step in than for that to happen.
Joshua Frank is the author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush and edits http://www.BrickBurner.org