Rice Rocks Beirut

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The secretary of state has paid a surprise visit to Lebanon, meeting with the prime minister and the speaker of the parliament:

[Assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs C. David] Welch said Rice's delegation came away from the meetings quite struck by the extent of the humanitarian crisis in Lebanon and the depth of emotion about it.

According to a Lebanese political source quoted by Reuters news agency, Rice told Berri, the speaker of the Lebanese parliament and a strong ally of Syria, that the situation on the Israeli-Lebanese border "cannot return to what it was before July 12." She referred to the date on which fighters of the radical Shiite Hezbollah organization, which is supported by Syria and Iran, crossed into Israel, killed three Israeli soldiers and abducted two others, triggering the current crisis.

The Lebanese source, describing the meeting's tone as "very negative," said Rice told Berri there would be no cease-fire before Hezbollah freed the soldiers unconditionally and pulled its forces back at least 12 miles from the border, Reuters reported.

Welch said the meeting with Berri was quite emotional, but he said it was "unfair" to characterize it as negative.

Nothing will come of it, but it seems like a smart move, one I didn't see coming.

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  1. I guess the rumors are true. Dr. Rice does sympathize with the Lesbianese.

    Just wanted to get that out of the way, sorry.

  2. I asked this clueless question on another thread, but Jennifer was on such a tirade no normal answer was possible.
    Why is Cavanaugh in Lebanon?
    And
    What happened to Michael Young?

  3. I’m sure there are a lot of really confused young people out there, but, back before the Bush Administration, we used to have this thing called diplomacy. …which, contrary to what you may have heard, had less to do with making fun of Europeans and asking the UN for permission to defend ourselves and more to do with getting what we wanted–sometimes without dropping U.S. bombs or deploying American troops.

    P.S. Yes, I suppose holding hands with a vicious dictator or hauling off a Falun Gong member could be considered diplomacy.

  4. I don’t know what Tim’s so surprised about. I myself don’t find this action much of a surprise at all. It’s standard Bushie.

    The Bush administration’s pattern is to hit with a stiff ultimatum with no negotiating room and then not back down from it.

    I’m not saying that approach is right or wrong but in terms of resolving conflicts, the approach hasn’t born much fruit. Iran’s not nibbling and now North Korea’s holding out for a better deal.

    Hezbollah’s not gonna back down. Isreal won’t back down, Syria and Iran way won’t back down and Lebanon with a new democracy and zero influence will either remain target practice for Isreal or (in the unlikely event they accept U.N. troops and mass for the border) another Iraq.

    We just bitch slapped Saudi Arabia by telling them “No” and Isreal has lobbed missiles into a country with a complicated history that they once occupied and that has little power over Hezbollah…oh, and it’s lead to the deaths of 400 civilians…many well away from where Hezbollah resides.

    We’re Isreal’s ally first and foremost. We are not to be trusted to consider any other country’s welfare. Sure Isreal has taken some shit but they’ve also dished out some serious screwball shit themselves. They have done damn near as much as the Palestinians to frustrate peace, a two-state solution or any other resolution to their own internal problems.

    Now comes Lebanon and we’re forcing them at gunpoint to make a choice that I doubt it will go our way. What’s smart about that?

  5. …Jennifer was on such a tirade

    I’ve noticed she’s been on those alot lately.

  6. >Why is Cavanaugh in Lebanon?

    I have the impression that his wife is Lebanese, or otherwise has family there. I could be wrong though.

    >What happened to Michael Young?

    I don’t know.

  7. Madpad, I’m really getting tempted to start a whole new thread about this:

    It’s spelled Israel.

  8. van,
    Thanks.
    Now I’m gonna stand back because Cavanaugh’s about to BLOW! (As in express himself forcefully.)

  9. Man am I embarassed. Shouldn’t have had that beer at dinner. In any case, Tim, blow baby blow.

  10. I promised no more sharing, but by popular demand: My wife is Lebanese. We visit Lebanon most years, and this year she and the kids made an extended stay, which was supposed to end just when the attack started.

  11. “My wife is Lebanese.”

    Tim, That is soooo HOT!

  12. Tim, I’m interested in why you find this a smart move. I’m torn between thinking the administrations actions are unrevealed genius and pathetic pussyfooting.

  13. Condi showed up but only ’cause she thought it was a meeting of Lesb-Anon.

    (rimshot)

  14. Thanks for that Jon H.

    Anyway. I’ve always been baffled by this Bush Administration strategy of showing up randomly in warzones. Bush in Iraq, Rumsfeld in Afghanistan, now Rice in Lebanon. What exactly is that kind of theatre supposed to convey?

  15. Ha JonH.

    Does anyone know where to find a table showing the number of rockets hitting Israel by day?

    I notice that the tinpot roundup neglected to cover Siniora, who has taken a very hard line on cease fire terms.

  16. Madpad, I’m really getting tempted to start a whole new thread about this:

    It’s spelled Israel.

    For rael?

  17. Raeally, Steavo

  18. I’m not saying that approach is right or wrong but in terms of resolving conflicts, the approach hasn’t born much fruit. Iran’s not nibbling and now North Korea’s holding out for a better deal.

    Do you think Clinton got better results? How about Carter? Define “results”. Of course with either of these two, we’d have to say it depends on what the meaning of “is” is.

    I think it’s really rotten that “free” Lebanon is taking the brunt of this. But I’m under no illusions that anybody is ever going to “talk peace” into the ME. The West has spent at least half a century trying to no avail. Give it, that cause is lost.

    A lot of innocent bystanders are going to suffer a whole lot more before things ever settle down over there. The Muslims aren’t going to drop the “Destroy IsrAEl” battle cry until a) they’ve done it or b) they’ve gotten their asses severely kicked for a very long time.

    I’m not convinced that this string it along stratagey we’ve been following is going to save more lives in the long run. Might better let them have it out once and for all.

    PS: Tim, did you notice? I learned, I learned!!!

  19. Hmmm…quite a mouthful, G.K.

    How ’bout Reagan or Bush Sr., while we’re at it. One got the hell out of Beirut and one got the hell out of Iraq. Quickly, I might add.

    You make an excellent point as to the Muslim endgame…but that being the case one has but 2 choices – manage the situation as a continually developing state of affairs or push for a final resolution.

    And 5 million Israelis aren’t just going to go away any more than 5 million Palestinians.

    But hey, there are more factors involved. For one, we have a perfectly lousy track record of suporting democracy in the region. We’d rather have despots who stabilize though force. Result? NO ONE trusts us there. We are capricious, duplicitous johns waving dollars for oil. It is our weakness and they know that.

    Supporting Democracy? I thought Lebanon was one. Shouldn’t we be supporting them? Aren’t they – to some extent – victims of terrorists thugs? They chased Syria out of there. Shouldn’t we be showing we give a shit about that instead of supporting Israel’s overkill bombing campaign while we goad Lebanon into a scrap with Hezbollah by putting a gun to their backs?

    We lose friends and prove every rotten thing the anti-Americans say about us when we do that.

    Maybe you’re right. Let’s have it out once and for all. But the Middle East is a big place and we have no stomach for another war. And the E.U. is even less enthused.

    Why? Maybe ’cause there’s millions of violent Muslim groups growing in the South Sea islands like Indonesia. And China and Russia are huge allies to some of the big players there like…Syria and Iran. And we’ve spent the past 4 years advertising every weakness we have to a now internet-connected group of people who hate us.

    Can’t wait to fight that one out.

  20. For once I am having a hard time criticizing the Bush administration. In order to shoot down what he has or hasn’t done, one needs to come up with a better path to resolving the conflict between Israel which is interested in self preservation and Hezbollah which is interested in the extermination of Israel.

    Once again, to state the obvious for the many who seem to keep missing it, either Israel must be destroyed or Hezbollah must be destroyed.

    And for those who think the UN should send in peacekeepers, there have been UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon since 1978. They haven’t done a blessed thing except take US taxpayer dollars (amongst others money too).

    Any international force that moves into southern Lebanon will have to stop the rocket attacks into Israel or what is the point? This means they will have to go on search and destroy missions against Hezbollah. Like that will ever happen.

    Bush administration strategy of “allowing” Israel to destroy as much of Hezbollah as possible is the only way out in the long term.

  21. madpad, I hear you but I still think the happyjuggler is on the mark.

    A big part of why everybody hates us over there is because we’ve spent decades trying to “manage” an essentially unmanagable situation. If you look at the big picture, we’ve often supported monsters because there was no practical alternative — unless you’re willing to go for the all out war option.

    Lebanon is a good case in point. It’s fine to talk about supporting Lebanon, but get real. That’s at least as much of a lost cause as Iraq, and probably more so. If the Israelis can’t drive Hezb. out, what makes you think American, or UN, “support” is going to do it?

    It’s not going to happen. Hezb. isn’t leaving Lebanon without a lot of horrendous bloodshed. Better the Israelis, who have much more of a vested interest, than us.

    I don’t think the Israelis are against Lebanese independence per se. But they aren’t going to tolerate kidnappnings and rocket attacks on a routine basis. If you were an Israeli, how much of the farm would you bet on a democratic Lebanese government ever getting its shit together well enough to control Hezbollah? With or without UN support.

    I wouldn’t bet much either way, myself.

    The South Vietnamese people were as much innocent casualties of that war as the Lebanese are now (my wife is from SVN fwiw). But that doesn’t change the fact that SVN was flatly incapable of producing high caliber, high quality leadership from within their own ranks. That, more than any other single factor, was the cause of their ultimate demise (my opinion, again fwiw).

    Lebanon has the same problem. Just like Palestine. They just can’t get it together.

    Nobody has won yet by trying to manage these unmanagable situations. All you get for your pain and money is a reputation as a bad manager.

    So buy the oil and otherwise stay the hell out of the ME. Or else admit that we’re there to secure our oil interests, invade and take over the oil fields.

    Unless you’ve got a better suggestion?

  22. madpad,

    I also think that in hitting Hezb. now, Israel has called it just about right. Evidence is pretty good that Hezb. has been preparing for this for a long time. If Israel had left them there and done the diplomacy thing, it would have been much worse later.

    http://www.washtimes.com/world/20060720-095532-3181r.htm

    btw, can somebody tell me what the tags are to make this a link instead of text?

  23. happyjuggler0,

    Right now, it seems as if Israel equates destruction of Hizbullah with destruction of Lebanon.

  24. When Hiz captured those IDF folks, why didn’t they just send over Jesse Jackson?

    Reason’s got to be happy with all these Lebanese connections — great location for stuff to write about and get heard on other media — ala Young in NYTimes, etc. Imagine how boring reason would be if Michael Young was based in a similar sized country like Costa Rica and Tim’s wife was from Moldova or something — boring…

  25. G.K. & happyjuggler,

    We probably agree more than we disagree. I’m no pollyanna and I realize we’ve had to support brutal thugs in an effort to have stability. In fact, one might argue that dumping that policy in order to pursue “freedom and democracy” has been one source for our problems.

    And I’ve got no problem with Israel going after Hezbollah. But for the most part, Hezbollah has been localized in Southern Lebanon and Israel is going after neighborhoods and markets in heavily populated civilian areas well-away from there.

    I don’t agree with the proposition that we should excuse Israel’s actions against other targets simply because Lebanon’s government – brand new…and a democracy, no less – was not (yet?) up to the task of ousting Hezbollah.

    It seems to me a more focused approach might have won us more allies in Lebanon and the larger Middle East while the current approach is making more enemies. In a region where democracy is a rarity it seems pounding a new one into the dust for the fault of geography only reduces the opportunities for the liberty and freedom we desire to flourish.

    And Israel has hardly been a wise and prudent factor in this whole mess. These border skirmishes (including kidnapping soldiers) has been going on ever since they left. The current kidnappings (as I understand it) are because Israel has not released people it already promised to release.

    Maybe you’re right, though. Maybe we just need to let the whole M.E. erupt in a massive, all-out war and get armageddon over with. Maybe we just need to cynically admit that the only things we care about are oil and Israel’s welfare. To hell with all this silly posturing about “liberty.”

  26. Genghis,

    “Do you think Clinton got better results? How about Carter?”

    I haven’t noticed Egypt (peace treaty signed with Israel because of Carter’s handholding) or Jordan (peace treaty signed with Israel because of Clinton’s handholding) attacking Israel or backing any terror groups lately.

  27. Good point, Joe

  28. Let’s not forget about Carter’s masterful handling of the Iranian hostage crisis.

  29. Let’s not forget about Carter’s masterful handling of the Iranian hostage crisis.

    Now there’s an easy one. No possibility of a wrong step there…as long as the president’s a Republican one. Thank God Reagan came along and freed ’em (after keeping ’em there – nod to the October Surprise Conpsiracy Buffs).

  30. Let’s face it. There is little anyone can do to “handle” the ME situation. Like most wars, it will require one side to defeat the other before true peace can be attained. In a head on battle, the Iraelis would be the hands down favorite, but they would have to pretty much have to fight every one in the Muslim world (or at least the biggest bullies) before they could rest. I believe a showdown between the ME and the west is where this whole thing is headed. The only thing that can save the day is for an increase in commerce with the ME that includes a middle class in their countries. The leadership of middle eastern countries are loathe to share the wealth and therefore keep their people poor. Poor people are more ripe for the picking of fanatical teachings. In the meantime, Israel is wiping out much of the infrastructure of Hezbollah and this is a good thing for them. The Bush administration policy of mostly hands off, is as good as the many failed peace agreements of the past, and costs less.

  31. joe, good point. There’s been a success story here and there. But I still stand by my basic position.

  32. “The secretary of state has paid a surprise visit to Lebanon, meeting with the prime minister and the speaker of the parliament:”

    Why do they call it a “suprise” visit? Haven’t we been hearing about this visit for about a week now?

  33. Poor people are more ripe for the picking of fanatical teachings.

    Intuitively obvious, yet most of the terrorists who’ve exported violence to the West are reasonably well-educated and from at least middle-class backgrounds. Whatever made Mohammed Atta prone to fanatical teachings, it wasn’t poverty.

  34. Hard to let this one pass……

    “The South Vietnamese people were as much innocent casualties of that war as the Lebanese are now (my wife is from SVN fwiw). But that doesn’t change the fact that SVN was flatly incapable of producing high caliber, high quality leadership from within their own ranks. That, more than any other single factor, was the cause of their ultimate demise (my opinion, again fwiw).”

    “S”VN DID produce high quality leadership- it was called the National Liberation Front. That leadership was of such high quality, the various quislings, putschists, drug dealers, and crime families pimped by the French & US couldnt BEGIN to rally support unless it was at gunpoint. Ergo, massive US invasion, free fire zones, defoliation, concentration camps. And STILL the quislings couldnt “rally support”. Gosh, them dirty commies…..
    Seems to me recent events (preonslaught recent) shows the Lebanese government ruled w/ some degree of popular consent. Which the “S”VN governments NEVER did….
    I think thats a real apples/oranges argument to make re: Lebanon. No commonality at all.
    I do not mean to offer insult, or denigrate your good Wife’s attitudes here, being on the loosing side is a hell of a thing.

  35. The SVN/Lebanon comparison has more validity than you’d think. A large part of the instability in both countries is religiously based. For Catholics in SVN the living was pretty good. For Buddhists, not so much so. And the VC definitely fed off of that, even though they believed in all of that commie shit.

    In Lebanon, Shiites are now a much larger percentage of the population than they were 20 years ago, due to the massive emigration of Lebanese Christians. Hezbollah ain’t going away unless the Lebanese Shiites go away, and that is certainly an inconvenient fact for both Israel and other types of Lebanese folks.

    As a libertarian American, my ultimate answer is that I really don’t give a fuck which group is shooting at which other group over there. We shouldn’t fund any of them, nor should we intervene. It’s bad enough that we have to buy their fucking oil.

  36. It’s bad enough that we have to buy their fucking oil.

    Might want to check that…Lebanon produces very little oil and exports almost none of it. In other words, we already don’t buy their fucking oil.

  37. i dont know if they so much “fed off it” than it was the crux of the whole thing: in order to have a job in the French Civil Service- ie, any Gvt job- you had to speak french & be catholic. French Civil Service extended into every aspect of the colonies structure. When the miserable, thuggish Frogs finally strategerized themselves into a roach motel- the vast valley of Dien bienPhu- the US anti peasant crusade went nuts. (And dont take that as a knock against the French forces trhat found themselves there- Ive hoisted a few w/ Legion vets of that fight)
    “Wild Bill” Donovan, an interesting chracter indeed, came up w/ a brilliant plan he was quite proud of- blanketing “N” Vietnam w/ leaflets, purposrtedly written by the Viet Minh (if they had genesis here, they’d be enshrined as “The Sons of Liberty”) stating there would be massive pogroms against the catholics, prompting massive catholic exodus to the South, and creating a population who would then portune a happy to oblige US for succor. Thus Diem.
    If you rebell against a foriegn installed quisling Gvt, are you “feeding” off it, or acting as a proper citizen.
    Leaving aside all the trappings of idealized communism- thats something they need to sort out, & probably would have, ages ago, were it not for our murderous, vile, & harebrained intervention. My consistant point, however off topic, for which I most certainly apologize.
    But damn, oftimes these side ramblings are so much more the nut of it that the topic headlined.
    Im new here, utterly delighted by what Ive found…..excuse a young (sigh-57) pups enthusiasm.
    And a HS dropouts poor spellin……

  38. Welcome to the show, MUTT…I felt the same way mmmm, ’bout 4 years ago.

  39. Oh, PUHLEEZE!
    From above:—
    “Do you think Clinton got better results? How about Carter?”

    I haven’t noticed Egypt (peace treaty signed with Israel because of Carter’s handholding) or Jordan (peace treaty signed with Israel because of Clinton’s handholding) attacking Israel or backing any terror groups lately.

    Comment by: joe at July 25, 2006 09:13 AM

    Good point, Joe,,,, madpad.

    the only point here, fellas, is the US taxpayer is being extorted to finance….shoot, words fail me. Thuggish, torturing swine who OWE thier existance to US largesse.
    This is far removed from actually settling a issue. Do you agree?
    Jesis friggin murphy. Jimmy Carter should have his own bbq pit in hell……

  40. MUTT…so much for that welcome thing (just kidding…but it was an awfully short honeymoon).

    Anyway, actually, the only point is that’s the way our foreign policy has gone since WW2. And while we’re pointing fingers, the U.S. gives almost as much to Russia as it does to Egypt. We’re also pumping dollars into Pakistan, Columbia, Israel, Ethiopia and the DRC just to name a few. But the biggest, by far, is Iraq.

    Extortion? Yep. Sucks? Youbetcha. But Carter didn’t start it and it damn sure didn’t end with him either. Ain’t a single mofo held the U.S. presidency that didn’t have to reckon with the world protection racket.

    That’s part of the unfortunate price of being the only superpower. But at least before Bush came along, we were paying the right people not to attack us. Seems to me we’re paying the wrong ones in Iraq & Afganistan now. But what do I know…I’m just a crank.

    Specific to Egypt and Jordan, remember the single sole motivating force behind those negotiations…protecting Israel. That was the angle then and that’s the angle behind the Bush administration’s actions now. Who’s behind it? Very loud, persistent and relentless Jewish and Conservative Christian folks who couldn’t care less about how deep or shallow U.S. taxpayer pockets are. Oh…and the politicians caving into them don’t give a shit either – no matter which party they belong to.

    Now, let’s talk about the corporate welfare racket, the farm subsidy racket, the tariff debacle and the Bush Administration’s penchant for no-bid contracting.

  41. Shelby writes: ” Whatever made Mohammed Atta prone to fanatical teachings, it wasn’t poverty.”

    Not his own, anyway. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t motivated by the poverty of others.

    It may be that the truly poor lack the time, funds, and freedom to act on their ideologies in anything but local actions. They’re too busy just trying to get by. The affluent and middle class, especially the undermployed, are the ones who can take on the ideologies and are able to travel for the cause.

    A benign example of this is Martin Luther King. He studied at Ivy League schools, and obtained a doctorate from Boston University. He could have had a comfortable middle-class (or better) life in the northeast, rather than getting involved in the problems of blacks in the deep south.

  42. Yup- short honeymoon. But thats OK- ill always stand ya a beer & an ear. You write:

    Extortion? Yep. Sucks? Youbetcha. But Carter didn’t start it and it damn sure didn’t end with him either. Ain’t a single mofo held the U.S. presidency that didn’t have to reckon with the world protection racket.

    People make choices. Do I have that right? Is that an underlying principle here, or am I not reading the subtle sub text of libertarians?
    Carter CHOSE to, among other things, fund the modern day escalation of death squads in El Salvador. (Please look into his slavish devotion to the “shah”.)
    It was a Jimmah Cahtah project to create a “professional” Treasury Police (?) in El Sal, soon to become what it was intended to be: an instrument of State murder. Mass murder. All following Death Squads flowed from that……is the idea of Gvt death squads a bad idea here, or no?
    Look a little further South: When Samozas grip in Nicaragua was being wrested, finger by finger, by Nicaraguans in general, Carter, PERSONALLY, pulled out all the stops to send 500 lb bombs & other munitions to the Guardia Nacional, which were rolled out of chopper doors destroying vast swaths of Nica cities. Look it up, I beg you.
    After it was clear Samoza had no future, he tried to force the Nicaraguans to keep the Samoza structure in place (Samocismo sin Samoza) along with the murderous GN.
    When THAT failed, he sent a particularly noxious thug, Vernon Walters (Of Brazil junta fame) to Costa Rica & Honduras w/ 64 million US to fund the merging of various GN groups (who, as thugs do, fled precipitously in the face of armed oppo) into what we call the Contra.
    That empty nitwit Reagan- or rather, his handlers- simply built on what Carter started.
    He can build shacks for the poor til the endtimes, as far as Im concerned: the swine belongs behind bars.
    But thats just me.
    And then theres this:
    a single mofo held the U.S. presidency that didn’t have to reckon with the world protection racket.

    Um…..”Millions for defence, not one cent for tribute”?
    The Founders warned of what happens with foriegn entanglements. Couple such entanglements w/ the profit motive, um- “invisible hand”- and you have either public wars for private profit, or utterly unpredictable, mystical misadventures no one could forsee. Depends on if you believe in “invisible hands” or not.
    Big smoochie, anyway, Madpad: it aint personal, its politics…..

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