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July 22, 2006

George Bush When He's Right

George Bush is very right on the war in Lebanon.  He deserves to have that said.  Policy discussions should be separated from political arguments.

I disagree with his veto of funding for stem cell research (although I certainly knew he would do that when I voted for him).  I think that execution by Homeland Security has been abominable. I know first hand that some Bush appointees appear to be deaf to reason or criticism.  It appalls me that he can’t (or won’t) pronounce “nuclear” correctly.  Something, although not everything, went badly wrong in Iraq.

But President Bush and the more articulate Secretary Condi Rice and Ambassador John Bolton are right to point out that a “ceasefire” in Lebanon now means nothing but recognizing the right of Hezbollah to maintain a private army accountable to no state. This private army is maintained in defiance of the UN  resolution meant to cement Lebanon’s independence from Syria and ability to exercise sovereignty over its territory.

Even the usually steadfast and sensible Tony Blair quickly jumped on the ceasefire bandwagon with UN Secretary Kofi Annan. President Putin is against “over reaction” – except in Chechnya, of course.  France, as usual, deplores.  But Bush is steadfast and deserves praise for that.

On the evening of 9/11/2001 Bush promised not only a war on terrorists but also “those who support them”.  That was his best speech and the high point of his presidency.  The war hasn’t been prosecuted perfectly; it has led to more abridgement of civil liberties than I’m comfortable with.  “Democracy building” was a worthy sub-goal but is clearly not a panacea.  (We may need to exclude countries which are at the mercy of private armies from the definition of democracy even if some leaders of the private army get into the government democratically).  But we are at war with terror and the inclusion of “those who shelter them” was critical.

Terrorists shelter in civilian populations.  It is the terrorists and not those who hunt them who are responsible for civilian casualties although civilized countries like the US and Israel try to minimize “collateral damage”.  I can’t imagine what families must go through in trying to evaluate the immediate danger of refusing to tolerate terrorists in their midst and the only slightly longer-term consequence of doing so.  Clearly, Lebanon cannot exist and prosper AND be a missile launching site for Hezbollah.  Ditto for Gaza and Hamas.

I think George Bush understands the history lesson that prolonged stalemates mean prolonged suffering, death, and destruction.  Whatever else you think of him – assuming that you agree with that argument – you might want to support his position on Lebanon.

I posted previously how I went from thinking the Israeli action was an over reaction to thinking it was overdue.

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