The U.S. response to the Israeli-Hezbollah war was said to have divided both the administration as well as the family of President George W. Bush. At the same time, it marked the first time since Ms. Rice became secretary of state that the president has overruled her.The issue boils down to a choice--as it often does--between the military and diplomatic options, and the ramifications of those choices:
The disagreement between Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice is over the ramifications of U.S. support for Israel's continued offensive against Lebanon. The sources said Mr. Bush believes that Israel's failure to defeat Hezbollah would encourage Iranian adventurism in neighboring Iraq. Ms. Rice has argued that the United States would be isolated both in the Middle East and Europe at a time when the administration seeks to build a consensus against Iran's nuclear weapons program.Of course what Rice considers 'stabilizing' others might refer to as 'empowering'.
Instead, Ms. Rice believes the United States should engage Iran and Syria to pressure Hezbollah to end the war with Israel. Ms. Rice has argued that such an effort would result in a U.S. dialogue with Damascus and Tehran on Middle East stability.
Now, just a couple of days later, Rice's position has won out
And whatever effect it may have, it will not be empowering Israel:
With the UN Security Council on the verge of passing a cease-fire resolution, the IDF understood on Thursday that Operation Change of Direction was ending, for better or for worse.
The IDF was disappointed. Senior officers said they had been looking forward to the fight. Reaching the Litani and eliminating Hizbullah from the villages on the way could have provided, senior officers believe, the victory that Israel has been trying to obtain since July 12. By Thursday night, the chance of that happening was drifting away.
In the end, Israel will have nothing to show for this.
No international force can really be expected to stop Hezbollah.
The chances that Israel will get her soldiers back without having to give something up is unlikely.
Nothing will stand in the way of Hezbollah re-arming itself.
Nasrallah will claim victory--for Hezbollah and by implication Syria and Iran as well.
And what at first was viewed as an opportunity to change the region for the better, will weaken the way Israel is viewed by its enemies.
Whether this is Bush's idea of Olmert's, the fact remains that Israel will be the worse for it.
No one will see this as a draw.
If a cease-fire is really put into place, if there is a bright side--please feel free to point it out.