Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Credibility Lost on Lebanon

We are destroying what little credibility we have left in the Middle East with our tacit support of Israel's reckless bombing campaign (via Kevin Drum):

America is totally alone on this. And more than most Americans might realize, America is being blamed for Israel's actions. The shift in Arab public discourse over the last week has been palpable. For the first few days, [there was a] split between the Saudi media and the "al-Jazeera public" which I wrote about at the time. Then for a few days, horror at the humanitarian situation, fury with the Arab states for their impotence, speculation about the endgame, and full-throated condemnation of Israeli aggression. But for the last few days, the main trend has been unmistakable: an increasing focus on the United States as the villain of the piece. (That the Israeli bombing of Beirut stopped just long enough for Condoleezza Rice's photo op certainly didn't help.)

I would be remiss not to link to Eric Martin (again via Kevin Drum) on what this loss of credibility on Iraq-and now Lebanon-is costing us:

The momentum has now shifted in the other direction, with frightening results. Iran is emboldened in a way not seen in decades. Suffice to say, the US won't be receiving any plaintive letters from Iran offering a generous dowry of compromises in the near future. Quite the opposite: Iran is thumbing their nose at the US, rejecting repeated offers of carrots in exchange for halting certain nuclear activities and scoffing at blustery threats about military intervention. Teheran is fearless.

They are free to act in Iraq, and free to attempt to manipulate events in the Levant. Their ascendancy has been so sweeping that certain Arab governments in the region (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan) even flirted with taking the Israeli side in its conflict with Hizbollah - that is, until popular sentiment in those countries forced an about-face.

I will argue this point with any conservative until I am blue in the face. The Bush administration has assumed that allowing Israel to bomb haphazardly all over Lebanon in failing effort to destroy Hezbollah is somehow in our interest. It is not. Securing our credibility in the Middle East, credibility we have squandered in Iraq, credibility we need to have sway over Iran and Syria, is in our interest. By fully siding with Israel in this conflict, by being the only major power to oppose an immediate cease-fire, by green-lighting the continued bombing of civilians and non-combatants, by speeding up our delivery of weapons to Israel, we have made it clear to the Arab world that our priority is and always will be the destruction of remote and inconsequential threats by military means no matter how many civilians it kills (see Iraq) and that we reject legitimate diplomacy with other powers whenever any single aspect of such diplomacy does not favor us. This is the supposed Bush doctrine, this support for democracy the world over presented to us in countless speeches, that has led to a situation in which Israel slowly destroys one of the few functional democracies in the Middle East...with our approval, because what the Bush administration truly believes in is the mis-guided, childish and simple-minded idea that terrorists (a.k.a. "evil-doers") can only ever be dealt with by using overwhelming military force, however great the threat is or isn't, whatever the consequences are to people caught in between the terrorists and ours or Israeli bombs. Such an approach is short-sighted, foolish and counter-productive, but given that the current occupants of the White House are not given to self-examination, don't expect it to change anytime before January 2009.


Eric said...

I would be remiss not to link to Mark Klein (again via Kevin Drum) on what this loss of credibility on Iraq-and now Lebanon-is costing us...

Thanks for the link, but I'm actually Eric Martin, not Mark Klein. But we do look an awful lot alike ;)

Xanthippas said...

Ha. That's what I get for blogging and trying to read multiple articles all at the same time.

Eric said...

Blogging, by nature, is multi-tasking. No harm, no foul.