Friday, July 14, 2006

Did You Know America Has Just Been Attacked?

All you need to do is read some editorials published since the tensions between Lebanon and Israel have literally exploded this week.

From FOX's John Gibson:

'Iran Attacking Israel Is Really Attack on U.S.'

It seems like a war between Israel and some terror groups. It's really a war by Iran on us.

And Michael Young in the New York Times:

ISRAEL’S incursion into Lebanon after the kidnapping on Wednesday of two Israeli soldiers by the militant group Hezbollah is far more than another flare-up on a tense border. It must also be seen as a spinoff of a general counterattack against American and Israeli power in the region by Iran and Syria, operating through sub-state actors like Hezbollah and the Palestinian organization Hamas.

Now, let's rewind for a moment here. In 2004, Lebanon and Israel agreed to a prisoner swap, brokered by Germany, in which the bodies of three Israelis who had been kidnapped in 2000 by Hezbollah were exchanged for 430 Arab prisoners held by Israel.

Another 29 prisoners from Arab nations, and a German-citizen who worked with Hizbollah, were flown to Germany and then most went to Lebanon. In addition, the bodies of approximately 60 Lebanese terrorists were handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross at the Israel-Lebanon border near Rosh Hanikra.
The prisoner exchange was the latest example of Israel's determination to bring its soldiers home, dead or alive. In 1985, Israel freed 1,150 prisoners in exchange for three Israeli soldiers kidnapped in Lebanon by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)-General Command. Many of the Arabs who were freed became leaders in the first Palestinian intifada.

The actions by Hezbollah were not considered an 'act of war' at the time. Neither did Israel launch a full scale attack on Lebanon in retaliation. The kidnappings were not blamed on Iran and Syria. No one in the US considered the actions an 'attack' on their country.

In today's political climate in the Middle East, however, and with a new US administration in Washington along with a new Prime Minister in Israel, the agenda has changed - as have the talking points. Americans must now believe that they are being attacked in order for the Bush administration to back its ally, Israel. And Olmert is using the same rhetoric that Bush did to justify the Iraq war: freedom is on the march. Both countries are using the kidnappings of the Israeli soldiers to deal with old demons, Syria and Iran. And Olmert's qualifications to handle such conflicts mirror Bush's weaknesses as well.

Today, Bush increased his support for Olmert's actions:

Saniora's office issued a statement saying Bush "affirmed his readiness to put pressure on Israel to limit the damage to Lebanon as a result of the current military action, and to spare civilians and innocent people from harm."

Snow said that wasn't so. Bush merely "reiterated his position" that Israel should limit the impact on civilians, he said.
Bush has not spoken with Israeli leaders, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Snow said. Snow did not provide details of the conversation.

Stunning. Bush hasn't even engaged in dialogues with Israeli leaders while the situation in the Middle East has reached a fever pitch. One wonders what it would take for Bush to actually pick up a phone at this point, even if it was just to express concern about the fate of Israeli soldiers and citizens.

No, Bush prefers his non-diplomacy diplomacy: let everyone else handle the situation. That hasn't worked with North Korea or Iran yet he persists in fiddling while Rome burns and Bush seems to be completely ignorant to the fact that attacks on the Shia in Lebanon will have an impact in Iraq as insurgents there will rally in support of their people in Lebanon - not to mention increasing the wrath of al Qaeda.

So, while some in the American public are buying the 'Israel must defend herself' talking point while nodding their heads along with the pundits who are telling them that the US is now under attack from Iran and Syria, critical thinking and a lack of historical perspective is sorely missing from the conversation. And that is a dangerous situation.

What's really under attack here is the public's right to fully understand the impact of this week's actions by Israel. It cannot be written off as being 'too complex' and it cannot be reduced to US nationalistic soundbites that whip up sentiments to obliterate more foreign governments. The American people must realize this before it's too late - if it isn't already.

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