Just when you thought the Bush administration couldn't possibly screw up US foreign policy in the Middle East any more than they already had, they surprise you once again by abetting the Israeli invasion of Lebanon (with some neo-cons encouraging them to widen the war by attacking Syria and maybe Iran, too). As bad as the US position in the region before the Israeli invasion, it's now worse. Arab extremists have one more example of US/Israeli aggression to use as a recruiting tool, and Hezbollah, by virtue of not only surviving the invasion but by putting up surprisingly stiff resistance to the Israeli army, has increased its prestige in the Arab world. I certainly hope that the ceasefire agreement voted by the UN holds, and that the bombs, shells and rockets will no longer be killing people in Israel and Lebanon. But war has been a disaster for the already dim prospects for peace in the region.
One good thing though: The brazen hypocrisy of US policy toward Lebanon--hailing the newly elected government as proof that the invasion of Iraq had indeed ushered in a new phase of democratic development in the region, and then hurrying to ship to Israel bombs and missiles to destroy the country, while publicly delaying diplomatic efforts to arrange a cease-fire--might have finally knocked Condoleeza Rice off the pedestal the US press had put her on since her ascension to Secretary of State. She had been portrayed as bringing a new realism and pragmatism to Bush foreign policy, but her absurd comments and diplomatic dithering after the Israeli air strikes began have severely damaged her image. She had somehow emerged from the White House without the taint of failure from the Iraq misadventure, blame for which was largely heaped on Cheney, Rumsfeld, and their cronies. Now she’s knee-deep in the Big Muddy along with the rest of them. If only they weren't dragging the rest of the country along with them.