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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Time Marches on Without US

The Bush administration is blaming terrorists for the current situation in the Israeli-Middle East escalation. By some accounts, our capability to focus on the crisis is diminished by the war in Iraq and nuclear standoffs with North Korea and Iran.

"Washington has turned to third parties, asking all countries with influence in Tehran and Damascus. Not only is the United States reluctant to criticize Israel as it faces terrorist attacks from Hezbollah, officials realize U.S. influence with Israel over its military operations is limited"

Or at least claiming that to be the case. For the United States to play a key role in diplomatic negotiations towards peace in the region would mean essential policy reversals on matters that so far it has been clinging to in order to justify its actions in Iraq and post 9-11. America is apt to ignore the imminent threat at the present time.

"With the conflict threatening to draw Iran and Syria into a regional war, Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska and a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations, on Thursday joined a growing chorus of calls urging Bush to send a high-level envoy, such as Colin Powell or James Baker, to the region. Such a trusted adviser, Hagel argued, would have the respect of leaders there."

Unortunately, this, too, would demand that we "negotiate with terrorists".

"For now, all eyes are on a United Nations team sent by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, seen as the best chance to exert pressure on Iran and Syria to gain the release of the soldiers and, ultimately, get Israel to stand down. All parties, including the United States, have much to lose. Each country, at the very least, has citizenry that has found itself trapped without an escape from the region. It would be ideal if there were a cease fire at the present moment, to allow those who wish to leave to do so. Sadly, for those who call it home, and with anti-muslim sentiment high, they may be the ones who have no where to run. This includes women and children."

So, in the face of change, The United States has chosen to let the cards fall where they may, and prefers a behind-the-scenes approach. The consensus is in by international analysts: we can't be counted on: Read as follows:

"A peaceful end to the crisis could preserve what many hoped would be one of Bush's more successful foreign policy legacies -- a thriving democracy in Lebanon. But if it occurs without serious U.S. engagement, the United States may find its longstanding role as an "honest broker" in the Middle East diminished, along with its influence in the region -- and particularly perhaps inside Lebanon."

"Siniora has received no U.S. support for his calls for a cease-fire, and Lebanese diplomatic sources say they are seeing "mixed messages" from the Bush administration."

"On the one hand, they say, the United States is calling for Syria to play a positive role. But, on the other hand, the United States won't deal with Syria. Also, while Washington has shown verbal support for the Siniora government, officials are still not criticizing the attacks on Lebanon. The message from the Middle-East so far seems to be that the United States is inconsistent, and therefore worth ignoring."

"While the United States tries to discredit Hezbollah, the real force behind any change of heart is more likely to be instigated by Arab nations and influential leaders."

"Egypt may again emerge as the key interlocutor in the region, and the U.S. leadership role may lose some of its sheen."

Power is decided by those who act, decisively and with certainty. While the United States tries to hedge its bets in favor of itself, the world looks to a multi-lateral solution. Certainly, it is well known that Israel follows the United States' example. The right to defend oneself must be balanced with the reason and rational that also protects oneself. The United States, unfortunately, may unpredictably find itself on the wrong side for a change. This is hard news for a country that took a strong stance against the Nazis of WWII.

No matter where Israel and others have been, at this point we must always assess what is. The United States feels it cannot afford to break with the past. Especially when it has invested so much in a war already that may be its second greatest failure since Vietnam. It has come down to a choice of losing, with a win for temporary peace between the parties involved in this conflict, or hoping for a win that is already in question, with terrorist factions gaining strength, number and organization. The long shot, for Israeli captives to be returned, is past due at this time. There is no longer that peaceable option. If we had intervened successfully prior to this point, we may have had a chance in that department. As some would say, time marches on, regardless, sometimes without us.

Therefore, I respectfully will turn my attention to other analysts who are brain storming what I cannot, at the present moment, with hope that they will see the candle in the darkness for which I seek.

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