Friday, July 28, 2006

Tone deaf

It is a familiar question: Will George W. Bush change his tone based on the pleadings of an embattled Tony Blair? One should assume the answer to be "no", but one should never assume. We shall know soon enough.

As they sit down to chat, we see this from Hezbollah (via CNN):
Hezbollah says it has fired a new rocket, Khaibar-1, at the Israeli town of Afula, south of Haifa, the Associated Press reports.
This may be the expansion of hostilities that has been vowed over the weeks.

George W. Bush is likely to remain hell bent (quite the appropriate term) on remaking the Middle East in his uninformed Wilsonian vision. The fact that this strategy has lead to a stronger Iran, more militant Islam, and the loss of American prestige seems to not resonate with this man.

Blair's position (uncomfortable)

The Guardian:
Tony Blair will press George Bush today to support "as a matter of urgency" a ceasefire in Lebanon as part of a UN security council resolution next week, according to Downing Street sources.

At a White House meeting, the prime minister will express his concern that pro-western Arab governments are "getting squeezed" by the crisis and the longer it continues, the more squeezed they will be, giving militants a boost. The private view from No 10 is that the US is "prevaricating" over the resolution and allowing the conflict to run on too long.
The Times of London:
Sir Christopher Meyer, a former British Ambassador to the United States, warned this morning that Mr Blair was paying a heavy political price for what was being seen as his blind loyalty to America's stance, blocking international calls for a speedy end to the violence.

Fourteen British charities today took out a full page advertisement in The Times and other newspapers, urging the Prime Minister to use his meeting with Mr Bush to call for an immediate ceasefire.
The Times of London:
Even around his own Cabinet table, there are many, many more dissenters than loyalists on this issue. Last Thursday, even stalwart Blairites such as David Miliband and Lord Grocott (Chief Whip in the Lords) spoke up against him.

A swift canvass of Cabinet views yesterday confirmed this. “There’s a lot of unease,” said one minister. “The consequences of this are extremely serious. It definitely doesn’t help Tony’s position.” Another said it was “absolutely dreadful — and the sight of us being rather powerless in it all is depressing too”. A third was more astringent still. “It’s doing incredible damage. This could be the end of him. If Tony can’t get this right, it will hasten his end.”
Hezbollah's strength

The New York Times:
Now, with hundreds of Lebanese dead and Hezbollah holding out against the vaunted Israeli military for more than two weeks, the tide of public opinion across the Arab world is surging behind the organization, transforming the Shiite group’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, into a folk hero and forcing a change in official statements.

The Saudi royal family and King Abdullah II of Jordan, who were initially more worried about the rising power of Shiite Iran, Hezbollah’s main sponsor, are scrambling to distance themselves from Washington.

An outpouring of newspaper columns, cartoons, blogs and public poetry readings have showered praise on Hezbollah while attacking the United States and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for trumpeting American plans for a “new Middle East” that they say has led only to violence and repression.
Bloomberg News:
About 70 percent of Lebanese approve of Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers in the July 12 raid that sparked Israel's offensive, according to a poll of 800 people published July 26 by the Beirut Center for Research and Information.

Nasrallah, 46, has spent his 14-year career as secretary general of Hezbollah juggling his role in Lebanon with his ties to Iran, the country that funds and arms his group, and to neighboring Syria, which controlled Lebanon for 29 years and backed Hezbollah's right to arms.

Trained in local Palestinian military camps, he studied theology in Iraq's Shiite holy city of Najaf and in Iran. He rose through Hezbollah's ranks by turning guerrilla fighters into a militia to battle the Israeli occupation.

Nasrallah has stage-managed Hezbollah's move into politics, making it a key player in ruling Lebanon, where decisions are taken by a cabinet made up of representatives of the various religious strands. The group's political arm has 14 members in the 128-seat parliament.
Israel entrenched

The Christian Science Monitor:
JERUSALEM – With relatively heavy losses in Lebanon and unexpectedly fierce resistance from Hizbullah, the Israeli army shifted Thursday in the direction of using far more firepower in the two-week-old conflict.

While many nations are increasingly critical of Israel's offensive in Lebanon, the mainstream Israeli reading of the situation seems the opposite: Much more military force - not less - is the key to beating back Hizbullah.


Post a Comment

<< Home