Tuesday, July 18, 2006
You've triggered a brilliant thought. (Laughter.) ... I remember a year ago what took place during the G-8 hosted by Tony. There were terrorist attacks in London... and there was outrage, as there should have been, and a determination to work together to protect life... [T]hat same determination must be applied to the Middle East, as well.
The terrorists... went into London subways, they'll fire rockets into Israel, all aiming to disrupt, to destroy, to prevent free societies from flourishing... the stakes have been clarified once again, during yet another G-8. And Tony and I will call upon our fellow leaders to come together and to make it clear that we reject this kind of violence, and that we will be steadfast in our support of freedom.
- President George Bush, with Prime Minister Tony Blair, at the G-8 summit, July 16
The Hizbullah-Iranian attack on Israel, under Lebanon's auspices with Syrian support, was indeed a clarifying event. While gratuitously and unhelpfully lecturing Israel on the need for "utmost restraint," Sunday's G-8 statement nonetheless clearly placed the blame on "extremist forces" for creating the current crisis, mentioning Hizbullah and Hamas by name and Iran and Syria by implication. These forces, the G-8 stated, aim to "destabilize the region and to frustrate the aspirations of the Palestinian, Israeli and Lebanese people for democracy and peace."
"These extremist elements and those that support them cannot be allowed to plunge the Middle East into chaos and provoke a wider conflict. The extremists must immediately halt their attacks," the statement continued.
This is relatively strong stuff, given that it is a consensus statement from the entire G-8, including Russia. But Bush and Blair were even more explicit. Time and again, when pressed on whether they would demand a cease-fire from Israel, they returned to the "root cause" of the problem, namely Iran and Syria.
"[T]he absolute essence of this," said Blair, "the only way we are going to get this situation calm... is if we address the reasons why the situation has arisen. And the basic reasons are that there are... extremists backed, I'm afraid, by Iran and by Syria... [I]f we want to make this work, we have got to deal with those underlying conditions that have given rise both to the problem in the Gaza [Strip] and the problems [in] Lebanon."
Bush, if anything, was more pointed. "[T]his recent flare-up... helps clarify a root cause of instability in the Middle East - and that's Hizbullah and Hizbullah's relationship with Syria, and Hizbullah's relationship to Iran, and Syria's relationship to Iran. Therefore, in order to solve this problem it's really important for the world to address the root cause... [T]here seems to be a consensus growing that in order for us to have the peace we want... we must deal with... two nation states that are very much involved with stopping the advance of peace, and that would be Iran, and that would be Syria."
It has been the case for decades, but it is finally dawning on the world that there are not two conflicts - the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Islamist-Western conflict - but one. As John Gibson, a commentator for Fox News, put it, "When the Iranians get nukes this ruckus we're witnessing today will look like a walk in the park... It seems like a war between Israel and some terror groups. It's really a war by Iran on us."
Hizbullah is the principal international arm of Iran and has killed hundreds of Americans. Though the official US 9/11 report found only circumstantial evidence linking Hizbullah to the 9/11 hijackers, it stated that, "senior managers in al-Qaida maintained contacts with Iran and the Iranian-supported worldwide terrorist organization Hizbullah... al-Qaida members received advice and training from Hizbullah."
Israel is now busy destroying Hizbullah as thoroughly as it can. As of Sunday, IDF sources stated that Israel had eliminated about 25 percent of Hizbullah's missile capacity. Defense Minister Amir Peretz has said that Israel requires another week or two to finish the job.
If Israel succeeds in destroying Hizbullah, it will have done the world, not only ourselves, a great favor. Bush and Blair, and perhaps other leaders, seem to understand this, and that the broader task of free nations is to confront Hizbullah's sponsors in Damascus and Teheran.