1. The War to Start All Wars
Newt Gingrich calls it World War III and Rush Limbaugh says Israel's fight with Hezbollah in Lebanon is a "blessing for the world." They are both wrong.
The Cold War, as Norman Podhoretz has pointed out, was World War III. Starting with the Berlin Airlift and continuing right through the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, proxy conflicts, of varying degrees of hostility, raged between East and West. Two conflicts, the full-scale shooting wars in Korea and Vietnam, were hugely expensive to the United States in blood, treasure, and public morale.
The War on Terror is also global in scope and also varies in intensity. U.S. conventional operations in Afghanistan and Iraq represent the high end, while counter-terror-primarily law enforcement efforts-represent the low end. Now, with Hezbollah and Israel trading rocket attacks for air strikes, we have something to slot in between those two extremes.
Limbaugh's giddiness over this development is evidently based on the belief that Israel will continue to escalate until it has wiped out Hezbollah while demonstrating to the world that Iran is now fighting proxy wars. But Israel can only begin to eliminate Hezbollah by re-running the 1982 invasion of Lebanon (the same invasion that created Hezbollah), including a large conventional force to occupy a buffer zone. That didn't end well because time is always against the occupying force.
More likely Israel wants to take out the largest arms caches while upping international pressure on Syria and Iran to end support for Hezbollah. But far from hiding it, Iran wears its support of Hezbollah as a badge of honor. This suggests the U.S. should pressure Iran. However, even the Bush administration now seems to realize that it is has little to threaten Iran with-short of a nuclear first strike.
As a result, look for pressure to intensify on Syria to rein in Hezbollah. But there is a catch there too: Syria has, in fits and starts, aided U.S. efforts in Iraq, and it is unclear whether the cooperation there would end if tough talk over Hezbollah increased.
The other thing to watch for is Hezbollah deciding that it has made a good enough show of things for now and that further attacks on Israel cities would be counter-productive. But another rocket barrage into Israeli apartment buildings? All bet are off.
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2. Stemming the Stem Cell Tide
It all makes sense now. President Bush's steadfast refusal to veto any of the bad ideas winging out of Congress during his presidency seemed odd, crazed even. Perhaps the run-away pork spending needed a veto, for example. No, the White House was saving the veto pen for stem cell research.
This veto, if Bush follows through on his threat, would signal to religious conservatives that the president really, truly supports them and is one of them. It is shrewd, powerful symbolism, and all credit is due to Karl Rove for coming up with it.
The trouble is that even if such a veto will activate and excite the conservative base for November's elections, there are more than a few of Bush's fellow Republicans on the other side of this issue. Their constituents might conclude that the best tactic is to supply Congress with enough Democrats to override any social-con Bush vetoes.
3. Quick Hits
Quote of the Week
"See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over."-President George Bush to Prime Minister Tony Blair at the G8 summit in St. Petersburg.
Industrial production jumped in June at roughly twice the rate economists had expected. The economy could be finding ways to deal with $75 oil.
Robert Brooks, RIP
Hooters chairman and founder Robert Brooks died in his Myrtle Beach home. He was 69 and suffered from diabetes.
After years of resisting the tide, the Boston Celtics have finally succumbed to the NBA's way of doing business. The Celtics now have their very own dance team.
4. New at Reason Online
The Cult of "Manliness"
A curmudgeon's defense of "manly men" devolves quickly into self-parody. Cathy Young
Bush Turns More Into Less
The president's tax-driven deficit reduction is worse than nothing Véronique de Rugy
Axis of Evil's Flat Tire
As the Middle East explodes, Kim Jong Il cries, "But What about me?" Kerry Howley
And much more!
5. News and Events
Reason in Amsterdam, 2006
The Grand Amsterdam Hotel August 23-26, 2006.
With Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of the hit show South Park, Time magazine's Andrew Sullivan, Reason magazine Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie, and Reason Senior Editor Jacob Sullum, among others.
Join Reason in Amsterdam for a three-day conference on the contemporary struggle for freedom in Europe.
After a kick-off dinner on Wednesday, August 23, attendees will enjoy two days of formal sessions on everything from tax harmonization and Dutch social policy to the threat of radical Islam (the preliminary schedule is here). On Saturday, August 26, attendees will have the option of participating in a wide range of group activities, including tours of the Anne Frank House, the van Gogh Museum, the Rijksmuseum and the Rembrandthuis, where Rembrandt van Rijn's 400th birthday will be commemorated this year by four major exhibitions of the celebrated artist's work.
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