[eDebate] hersch: watching lebanon

Jake Stromboli infracaninophile
Sun Aug 13 18:34:01 CDT 2006



WATCHING LEBANON
Washington?s interests in Israel?s war.
by SEYMOUR M. HERSH
Issue of 2006-08-21
Posted 2006-08-14

In the days after Hezbollah crossed from  Lebanon into Israel, on July 12th, 
to kidnap  two soldiers, triggering an Israeli air attack on  Lebanon and a 
full-scale war, the Bush  Administration seemed strangely passive. ?It?s  
moment of clarification,? President George W  Bush said at the G-8 summit, 
in St. Petersburg  on July 16th. ?It?s now become clear why we  don?t have 
peace in the Middle East.? He  described the relationship between Hezbollah  
and its supporters in Iran and Syria as one of  the ?root causes of 
instability,? and  subsequently said that it was up to those  countries to 
end the crisis. Two days later despite calls from several governments for 
the  United States to take the lead in negotiations to end the fighting, 
Secretary of State  Condoleezza Rice said that a ceasefire should  be put 
off until ?the conditions are conducive.
The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of 
Israel?s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney 
were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials 
told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against 
Hezbollah?s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control 
complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel?s security concerns and also serve as 
a prelude to a potential American pre?mptive attack to destroy Iran?s 
nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.
Israeli military and intelligence experts I spoke to emphasized that the 
country?s immediate security issues were reason enough to confront 
Hezbollah, regardless of what the Bush Administration wanted. Shabtai 
Shavit, a national-security adviser to the Knesset who headed the Mossad, 
Israel?s foreign-intelligence service, from 1989 to 1996, told me, ?We do 
what we think is best for us, and if it happens to meet America?s 
requirements, that?s just part of a relationship between two friends. 
Hezbollah is armed to the teeth and trained in the most advanced technology 
of guerrilla warfare. It was just a matter of time. We had to address it.?
Hezbollah is seen by Israelis as a profound threat?a terrorist organization, 
operating on their border, with a military arsenal that, with help from Iran 
and Syria, has grown stronger since the Israeli occupation of southern 
Lebanon ended, in 2000. Hezbollah?s leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has 
said he does not believe that Israel is a ?legal state.? Israeli 
intelligence estimated at the outset of the air war that Hezbollah had 
roughly five hundred medium-range Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 rockets and a few dozen 
long-range Zelzal rockets; the Zelzals, with a range of about two hundred 
kilometres, could reach Tel Aviv. (One rocket hit Haifa the day after the 
kidnappings.) It also has more than twelve thousand shorter-range rockets. 
Since the conflict began, more than three thousand of these have been fired 
at Israel.
According to a Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of 
both the Israeli and the U.S. governments, Israel had devised a plan for 
attacking Hezbollah?and shared it with Bush Administration officials?well 
before the July 12th kidnappings. ?It?s not that the Israelis had a trap 
that Hezbollah walked into,? he said, ?but there was a strong feeling in the 
White House that sooner or later the Israelis were going to do it.?
The Middle East expert said that the Administration had several reasons for 
supporting the Israeli bombing campaign. Within the State Department, it was 
seen as a way to strengthen the Lebanese government so that it could assert 
its authority over the south of the country, much of which is controlled by 
Hezbollah. He went on, ?The White House was more focussed on stripping 
Hezbollah of its missiles, because, if there was to be a military option 
against Iran?s nuclear facilities, it had to get rid of the weapons that 
Hezbollah could use in a potential retaliation at Israel. Bush wanted both. 
Bush was going after Iran, as part of the Axis of Evil, and its nuclear 
sites, and he was interested in going after Hezbollah as part of his 
interest in democratization, with Lebanon as one of the crown jewels of 
Middle East democracy.?
Administration officials denied that they knew of Israel?s plan for the air 
war. The White House did not respond to a detailed list of questions. In 
response to a separate request, a National Security Council spokesman said, 
?Prior to Hezbollah?s attack on Israel, the Israeli government gave no 
official in Washington any reason to believe that Israel was planning to 
attack. Even after the July 12th attack, we did not know what the Israeli 
plans were.? A Pentagon spokesman said, ?The United States government 
remains committed to a diplomatic solution to the problem of Iran?s 
clandestine nuclear weapons program,? and denied the story, as did a State 
Department spokesman.
The United States and Israel have shared intelligence and enjoyed close 
military co?peration for decades, but early this spring, according to a 
former senior intelligence official, high-level planners from the U.S. Air 
Force?under pressure from the White House to develop a war plan for a 
decisive strike against Iran?s nuclear facilities?began consulting with 
their counterparts in the Israeli Air Force.
?The big question for our Air Force was how to hit a series of hard targets 
in Iran successfully,? the former senior intelligence official said. ?Who is 
the closest ally of the U.S. Air Force in its planning? It?s not Congo?it?s 
Israel. Everybody knows that Iranian engineers have been advising Hezbollah 
on tunnels and underground gun emplacements. And so the Air Force went to 
the Israelis with some new tactics and said to them, ?Let?s concentrate on 
the bombing and share what we have on Iran and what you have on Lebanon.? ? 
The discussions reached the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense 
Donald Rumsfeld, he said.
?The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits,? a U.S. 
government consultant with close ties to Israel said. ?Why oppose it? We?ll 
be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. 
It would be a demo for Iran.?
A Pentagon consultant said that the Bush White House ?has been agitating for 
some time to find a reason for a pre?mptive blow against Hezbollah.? He 
added, ?It was our intent to have Hezbollah diminished, and now we have 
someone else doing it.? (As this article went to press, the United Nations 
Security Council passed a ceasefire resolution, although it was unclear if 
it would change the situation on the ground.)
According to Richard Armitage, who served as Deputy Secretary of State in 
Bush?s first term?and who, in 2002, said that Hezbollah ?may be the A team 
of terrorists??Israel?s campaign in Lebanon, which has faced unexpected 
difficulties and widespread criticism, may, in the end, serve as a warning 
to the White House about Iran. ?If the most dominant military force in the 
region?the Israel Defense Forces?can?t pacify a country like Lebanon, with a 
population of four million, you should think carefully about taking that 
template to Iran, with strategic depth and a population of seventy million,? 
Armitage said. ?The only thing that the bombing has achieved so far is to 
unite the population against the Israelis.?

Several current and former officials involved  in the Middle East told me 
that Israel viewed the soldiers? kidnapping as the opportune  moment to 
begin its planned military campaign  against Hezbollah. ?Hezbollah, like 
clockwork  was instigating something small every month or  two,? the U.S. 
government consultant with ties  to Israel said. Two weeks earlier, in late 
June  members of Hamas, the Palestinian group, had  tunnelled under the 
barrier separating southern  Gaza from Israel and captured an Israeli 
soldier  Hamas also had lobbed a series of rockets at  Israeli towns near 
the border with Gaza. In  response, Israel had initiated an extensive  
bombing campaign and reoccupied parts of  Gaza.
The Pentagon consultant noted that there had also been cross-border 
incidents involving Israel and Hezbollah, in both directions, for some time. 
?They?ve been sniping at each other,? he said. ?Either side could have 
pointed to some incident and said ?We have to go to war with these 
guys??because they were already at war.?
David Siegel, the spokesman at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, said that 
the Israeli Air Force had not been seeking a reason to attack Hezbollah. ?We 
did not plan the campaign. That decision was forced on us.? There were 
ongoing alerts that Hezbollah ?was pressing to go on the attack,? Siegel 
said. ?Hezbollah attacks every two or three months,? but the kidnapping of 
the soldiers raised the stakes.
In interviews, several Israeli academics, journalists, and retired military 
and intelligence officers all made one point: they believed that the Israeli 
leadership, and not Washington, had decided that it would go to war with 
Hezbollah. Opinion polls showed that a broad spectrum of Israelis supported 
that choice. ?The neocons in Washington may be happy, but Israel did not 
need to be pushed, because Israel has been wanting to get rid of Hezbollah,? 
Yossi Melman, a journalist for the newspaper Ha?aretz, who has written 
several books about the Israeli intelligence community, said. ?By provoking 
Israel, Hezbollah provided that opportunity.?
?We were facing a dilemma,? an Israeli official said. Prime Minister Ehud 
Olmert ?had to decide whether to go for a local response, which we always 
do, or for a comprehensive response?to really take on Hezbollah once and for 
all.? Olmert made his decision, the official said, only after a series of 
Israeli rescue efforts failed.
The U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel told me, however, 
that, from Israel?s perspective, the decision to take strong action had 
become inevitable weeks earlier, after the Israeli Army?s signals 
intelligence group, known as Unit 8200, picked up bellicose intercepts in 
late spring and early summer, involving Hamas, Hezbollah, and Khaled Meshal, 
the Hamas leader now living in Damascus.
One intercept was of a meeting in late May of the Hamas political and 
military leadership, with Meshal participating by telephone. ?Hamas believed 
the call from Damascus was scrambled, but Israel had broken the code,? the 
consultant said. For almost a year before its victory in the Palestinian 
elections in January, Hamas had curtailed its terrorist activities. In the 
late May intercepted conversation, the consultant told me, the Hamas 
leadership said that ?they got no benefit from it, and were losing standing 
among the Palestinian population.? The conclusion, he said, was ? ?Let?s go 
back into the terror business and then try and wrestle concessions from the 
Israeli government.? ? The consultant told me that the U.S. and Israel 
agreed that if the Hamas leadership did so, and if Nasrallah backed them up, 
there should be ?a full-scale response.? In the next several weeks, when 
Hamas began digging the tunnel into Israel, the consultant said, Unit 8200 
?picked up signals intelligence involving Hamas, Syria, and Hezbollah, 
saying, in essence, that they wanted Hezbollah to ?warm up? the north.? In 
one intercept, the consultant said, Nasrallah referred to Olmert and Defense 
Minister Amir Peretz ?as seeming to be weak,? in comparison with the former 
Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak, who had extensive military 
experience, and said ?he thought Israel would respond in a small-scale, 
local way, as they had in the past.?

Earlier this summer, before the Hezbollah  kidnappings, the U.S. government 
consultant  said, several Israeli officials visited Washington  separately, 
?to get a green light for the bombing  operation and to find out how much 
the United  States would bear.? The consultant added, ?Israel began with 
Cheney. It wanted to be sure  that it had his support and the support of his 
  office and the Middle East desk of the National  Security Council.? After 
that, ?persuading Bush was never a problem, and Condi Rice was on  board,? 
the consultant said
The initial plan, as outlined by the Israelis, called for a major bombing 
campaign in response to the next Hezbollah provocation, according to the 
Middle East expert with knowledge of U.S. and Israeli thinking. Israel 
believed that, by targeting Lebanon?s infrastructure, including highways, 
fuel depots, and even the civilian runways at the main Beirut airport, it 
could persuade Lebanon?s large Christian and Sunni populations to turn 
against Hezbollah, according to the former senior intelligence official. The 
airport, highways, and bridges, among other things, have been hit in the 
bombing campaign. The Israeli Air Force had flown almost nine thousand 
missions as of last week. (David Siegel, the Israeli spokesman, said that 
Israel had targeted only sites connected to Hezbollah; the bombing of 
bridges and roads was meant to prevent the transport of weapons.)
The Israeli plan, according to the former senior intelligence official, was 
?the mirror image of what the United States has been planning for Iran.? 
(The initial U.S. Air Force proposals for an air attack to destroy Iran?s 
nuclear capacity, which included the option of intense bombing of civilian 
infrastructure targets inside Iran, have been resisted by the top leadership 
of the Army, the Navy, and the Marine Corps, according to current and former 
officials. They argue that the Air Force plan will not work and will 
inevitably lead, as in the Israeli war with Hezbollah, to the insertion of 
troops on the ground.)
Uzi Arad, who served for more than two decades in the Mossad, told me that 
to the best of his knowledge the contacts between the Israeli and U.S. 
governments were routine, and that, ?in all my meetings and conversations 
with government officials, never once did I hear anyone refer to prior 
co?rdination with the United States.? He was troubled by one issue?the speed 
with which the Olmert government went to war. ?For the life of me, I?ve 
never seen a decision to go to war taken so speedily,? he said. ?We usually 
go through long analyses.?
The key military planner was Lieutenant General Dan Halutz, the I.D.F. chief 
of staff, who, during a career in the Israeli Air Force, worked on 
contingency planning for an air war with Iran. Olmert, a former mayor of 
Jerusalem, and Peretz, a former labor leader, could not match his experience 
and expertise.
In the early discussions with American officials, I was told by the Middle 
East expert and the government consultant, the Israelis repeatedly pointed 
to the war in Kosovo as an example of what Israel would try to achieve. The 
NATO forces commanded by U.S. Army General Wesley Clark methodically bombed 
and strafed not only military targets but tunnels, bridges, and roads, in 
Kosovo and elsewhere in Serbia, for seventy-eight days before forcing 
Serbian forces to withdraw from Kosovo. ?Israel studied the Kosovo war as 
its role model,? the government consultant said. ?The Israelis told Condi 
Rice, ?You did it in about seventy days, but we need half of 
that?thirty-five days.? ?
There are, of course, vast differences between Lebanon and Kosovo. Clark, 
who retired from the military in 2000 and unsuccessfully ran as a Democrat 
for the Presidency in 2004, took issue with the analogy: ?If it?s true that 
the Israeli campaign is based on the American approach in Kosovo, then it 
missed the point. Ours was to use force to obtain a diplomatic objective?it 
was not about killing people.? Clark noted in a 2001 book, ?Waging Modern 
War,? that it was the threat of a possible ground invasion as well as the 
bombing that forced the Serbs to end the war. He told me, ?In my experience, 
air campaigns have to be backed, ultimately, by the will and capability to 
finish the job on the ground.?
Kosovo has been cited publicly by Israeli officials and journalists since 
the war began. On August 6th, Prime Minister Olmert, responding to European 
condemnation of the deaths of Lebanese civilians, said, ?Where do they get 
the right to preach to Israel? European countries attacked Kosovo and killed 
ten thousand civilians. Ten thousand! And none of these countries had to 
suffer before that from a single rocket. I?m not saying it was wrong to 
intervene in Kosovo. But please: don?t preach to us about the treatment of 
civilians.? (Human Rights Watch estimated the number of civilians killed in 
the NATO bombing to be five hundred; the Yugoslav government put the number 
between twelve hundred and five thousand.)
Cheney?s office supported the Israeli plan, as did Elliott Abrams, a deputy 
national-security adviser, according to several former and current 
officials. (A spokesman for the N.S.C. denied that Abrams had done so.) They 
believed that Israel should move quickly in its air war against Hezbollah. A 
former intelligence officer said, ?We told Israel, ?Look, if you guys have 
to go, we?re behind you all the way. But we think it should be sooner rather 
than later?the longer you wait, the less time we have to evaluate and plan 
for Iran before Bush gets out of office.? ?
Cheney?s point, the former senior intelligence official said, was ?What if 
the Israelis execute their part of this first, and it?s really successful? 
It?d be great. We can learn what to do in Iran by watching what the Israelis 
do in Lebanon.?
The Pentagon consultant told me that intelligence about Hezbollah and Iran 
is being mishandled by the White House the same way intelligence had been 
when, in 2002 and early 2003, the Administration was making the case that 
Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. ?The big complaint now in the 
intelligence community is that all of the important stuff is being sent 
directly to the top?at the insistence of the White House?and not being 
analyzed at all, or scarcely,? he said. ?It?s an awful policy and violates 
all of the N.S.A.?s strictures, and if you complain about it you?re out,? he 
said. ?Cheney had a strong hand in this.?
The long-term Administration goal was to help set up a Sunni Arab 
coalition?including countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt?that 
would join the United States and Europe to pressure the ruling Shiite 
mullahs in Iran. ?But the thought behind that plan was that Israel would 
defeat Hezbollah, not lose to it,? the consultant with close ties to Israel 
said. Some officials in Cheney?s office and at the N.S.C. had become 
convinced, on the basis of private talks, that those nations would moderate 
their public criticism of Israel and blame Hezbollah for creating the crisis 
that led to war. Although they did so at first, they shifted their position 
in the wake of public protests in their countries about the Israeli bombing. 
The White House was clearly disappointed when, late last month, Prince Saud 
al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, came to Washington and, at a meeting 
with Bush, called for the President to intervene immediately to end the war. 
The Washington Post reported that Washington had hoped to enlist moderate 
Arab states ?in an effort to pressure Syria and Iran to rein in Hezbollah, 
but the Saudi move . . . seemed to cloud that initiative.?

The surprising strength of Hezbollah?s resistance, and its continuing 
ability to fire rockets into northern Israel in the face of the constant 
Israeli bombing, the Middle East  expert told me, ?is a massive setback for 
those  in the White House who want to use force in  Iran. And those who 
argue that the bombing  will create internal dissent and revolt in Iran are  
also set back.
Nonetheless, some officers serving with the Joint Chiefs of Staff remain 
deeply concerned that the Administration will have a far more positive 
assessment of the air campaign than they should, the former senior 
intelligence official said. ?There is no way that Rumsfeld and Cheney will 
draw the right conclusion about this,? he said. ?When the smoke clears, 
they?ll say it was a success, and they?ll draw reinforcement for their plan 
to attack Iran.?
In the White House, especially in the Vice-President?s office, many 
officials believe that the military campaign against Hezbollah is working 
and should be carried forward. At the same time, the government consultant 
said, some policymakers in the Administration have concluded that the cost 
of the bombing to Lebanese society is too high. ?They are telling Israel 
that it?s time to wind down the attacks on infrastructure.?
Similar divisions are emerging in Israel. David Siegel, the Israeli 
spokesman, said that his country?s leadership believed, as of early August, 
that the air war had been successful, and had destroyed more than seventy 
per cent of Hezbollah?s medium- and long-range-missile launching capacity. 
?The problem is short-range missiles, without launchers, that can be shot 
from civilian areas and homes,? Siegel told me. ?The only way to resolve 
this is ground operations?which is why Israel would be forced to expand 
ground operations if the latest round of diplomacy doesn?t work.? Last week, 
however, there was evidence that the Israeli government was troubled by the 
progress of the war. In an unusual move, Major General Moshe Kaplinsky, 
Halutz?s deputy, was put in charge of the operation, supplanting Major 
General Udi Adam. The worry in Israel is that Nasrallah might escalate the 
crisis by firing missiles at Tel Aviv. ?There is a big debate over how much 
damage Israel should inflict to prevent it,? the consultant said. ?If 
Nasrallah hits Tel Aviv, what should Israel do? Its goal is to deter more 
attacks by telling Nasrallah that it will destroy his country if he doesn?t 
stop, and to remind the Arab world that Israel can set it back twenty years. 
We?re no longer playing by the same rules.?
A European intelligence officer told me, ?The Israelis have been caught in a 
psychological trap. In earlier years, they had the belief that they could 
solve their problems with toughness. But now, with Islamic martyrdom, things 
have changed, and they need different answers. How do you scare people who 
love martyrdom?? The problem with trying to eliminate Hezbollah, the 
intelligence officer said, is the group?s ties to the Shiite population in 
southern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and Beirut?s southern suburbs, where it 
operates schools, hospitals, a radio station, and various charities.
A high-level American military planner told me, ?We have a lot of 
vulnerability in the region, and we?ve talked about some of the effects of 
an Iranian or Hezbollah attack on the Saudi regime and on the oil 
infrastructure.? There is special concern inside the Pentagon, he added, 
about the oil-producing nations north of the Strait of Hormuz. ?We have to 
anticipate the unintended consequences,? he told me. ?Will we be able to 
absorb a barrel of oil at one hundred dollars? There is this almost comical 
thinking that you can do it all from the air, even when you?re up against an 
irregular enemy with a dug-in capability. You?re not going to be successful 
unless you have a ground presence, but the political leadership never 
considers the worst case. These guys only want to hear the best case.?
There is evidence that the Iranians were expecting the war against 
Hezbollah. Vali Nasr, an expert on Shiite Muslims and Iran, who is a fellow 
at the Council on Foreign Relations and also teaches at the Naval 
Postgraduate School, in Monterey, California, said, ?Every negative American 
move against Hezbollah was seen by Iran as part of a larger campaign against 
it. And Iran began to prepare for the showdown by supplying more 
sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah?anti-ship and anti-tank missiles?and 
training its fighters in their use. And now Hezbollah is testing Iran?s new 
weapons. Iran sees the Bush Administration as trying to marginalize its 
regional role, so it fomented trouble.?
Nasr, an Iranian-American who recently published a study of the Sunni-Shiite 
divide, entitled ?The Shia Revival,? also said that the Iranian leadership 
believes that Washington?s ultimate political goal is to get some 
international force to act as a buffer?to physically separate Syria and 
Lebanon in an effort to isolate and disarm Hezbollah, whose main supply 
route is through Syria. ?Military action cannot bring about the desired 
political result,? Nasr said. The popularity of Iran?s President, Mahmoud 
Ahmadinejad, a virulent critic of Israel, is greatest in his own country. If 
the U.S. were to attack Iran?s nuclear facilities, Nasr said, ?you may end 
up turning Ahmadinejad into another Nasrallah?the rock star of the Arab 
street.?

Donald Rumsfeld, who is one of the Bush  Administration?s most outspoken, 
and  powerful, officials, has said very little publicly  about the crisis in 
Lebanon. His relative quiet  compared to his aggressive visibility in the 
run-up to the Iraq war, has prompted a debate in  Washington about where he 
stands on the issue.
Some current and former intelligence officials who were interviewed for this 
article believe that Rumsfeld disagrees with Bush and Cheney about the 
American role in the war between Israel and Hezbollah. The U.S. government 
consultant with close ties to Israel said that ?there was a feeling that 
Rumsfeld was jaded in his approach to the Israeli war.? He added, ?Air power 
and the use of a few Special Forces had worked in Afghanistan, and he tried 
to do it again in Iraq. It was the same idea, but it didn?t work. He thought 
that Hezbollah was too dug in and the Israeli attack plan would not work, 
and the last thing he wanted was another war on his shift that would put the 
American forces in Iraq in greater jeopardy.?
A Western diplomat said that he understood that Rumsfeld did not know all 
the intricacies of the war plan. ?He is angry and worried about his troops? 
in Iraq, the diplomat said. Rumsfeld served in the White House during the 
last year of the war in Vietnam, from which American troops withdrew in 
1975, ?and he did not want to see something like this having an impact in 
Iraq.? Rumsfeld?s concern, the diplomat added, was that an expansion of the 
war into Iran could put the American troops in Iraq at greater risk of 
attacks by pro-Iranian Shiite militias.
At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on August 3rd, Rumsfeld was 
less than enthusiastic about the war?s implications for the American troops 
in Iraq. Asked whether the Administration was mindful of the war?s impact on 
Iraq, he testified that, in his meetings with Bush and Condoleezza Rice, 
?there is a sensitivity to the desire to not have our country or our 
interests or our forces put at greater risk as a result of what?s taking 
place between Israel and Hezbollah. . . . There are a variety of risks that 
we face in that region, and it?s a difficult and delicate situation.?
The Pentagon consultant dismissed talk of a split at the top of the 
Administration, however, and said simply, ?Rummy is on the team. He?d love 
to see Hezbollah degraded, but he also is a voice for less bombing and more 
innovative Israeli ground operations.? The former senior intelligence 
official similarly depicted Rumsfeld as being ?delighted that Israel is our 
stalking horse.?
There are also questions about the status of Condoleezza Rice. Her initial 
support for the Israeli air war against Hezbollah has reportedly been 
tempered by dismay at the effects of the attacks on Lebanon. The Pentagon 
consultant said that in early August she began privately ?agitating? inside 
the Administration for permission to begin direct diplomatic talks with 
Syria?so far, without much success. Last week, the Times reported that Rice 
had directed an Embassy official in Damascus to meet with the Syrian foreign 
minister, though the meeting apparently yielded no results. The Times also 
reported that Rice viewed herself as ?trying to be not only a peacemaker 
abroad but also a mediator among contending parties? within the 
Administration. The article pointed to a divide between career diplomats in 
the State Department and ?conservatives in the government,? including Cheney 
and Abrams, ?who were pushing for strong American support for Israel.?
The Western diplomat told me his embassy believes that Abrams has emerged as 
a key policymaker on Iran, and on the current Hezbollah-Israeli crisis, and 
that Rice?s role has been relatively diminished. Rice did not want to make 
her most recent diplomatic trip to the Middle East, the diplomat said. ?She 
only wanted to go if she thought there was a real chance to get a 
ceasefire.?
Bush?s strongest supporter in Europe continues to be British Prime Minister 
Tony Blair, but many in Blair?s own Foreign Office, as a former diplomat 
said, believe that he has ?gone out on a particular limb on this??especially 
by accepting Bush?s refusal to seek an immediate and total ceasefire between 
Israel and Hezbollah. ?Blair stands alone on this,? the former diplomat 
said. ?He knows he?s a lame duck who?s on the way out, but he buys it??the 
Bush policy. ?He drinks the White House Kool-Aid as much as anybody in 
Washington.? The crisis will really start at the end of August, the diplomat 
added, ?when the Iranians??under a United Nations deadline to stop uranium 
enrichment??will say no.?
Even those who continue to support Israel?s war against Hezbollah agree that 
it is failing to achieve one of its main goals?to rally the Lebanese against 
Hezbollah. ?Strategic bombing has been a failed military concept for ninety 
years, and yet air forces all over the world keep on doing it,? John 
Arquilla, a defense analyst at the Naval Postgraduate School, told me. 
Arquilla has been campaigning for more than a decade, with growing success, 
to change the way America fights terrorism. ?The warfare of today is not 
mass on mass,? he said. ?You have to hunt like a network to defeat a 
network. Israel focussed on bombing against Hezbollah, and, when that did 
not work, it became more aggressive on the ground. The definition of 
insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different 
result.?

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