Headlines throughout the American media read:
as Israel has intensified its bombing campaign of the Beirut Airport and highways.
45 Lebanese civilians are reported dead.
Although I do not have independent confirmation, I heard the rumor from a well-placed source that Secretary of State Rice attempted to increase pressure on Israel to stand down and to demonstrate “restraint”. The rumor is that she was told flatly by the Prime Minister’s office to “back off”.
Rice is not one to be told to back off without the other party paying a price. Israel’s outrageous, over-the-top military escalations were exactly what the most militarist fanatics of Hamas wanted and exactly what Hezbollah wanted to prompt. Those in the middle of the extremists on all sides are getting crushed.
And it may take this kind of out of control danger that FINALLY wakes up some tough-minded strategists in the White House, Defense Department, and State Department to compel Israel to back off and all other parties to wind down their militant elements.
Note to George W. Bush, please call your father, James Baker and Brent Scowcroft for some advice. Also, get Elliott Abrams to recuse himself NOW from any further counsel on these matters as his perspective is too close to Israel — and dispassionate counsel is needed.
— Steve Clemons