Bush today gave the equivalent of his foolhardy “Mission Accomplished” speech about Israel’s alleged “victory” in the Lebanon war:
President Bush today said Hezbollah had been defeated by Israel despite the group’s claims of victory and blamed Hezbollah, emboldened by its “state sponsors” Iran and Syria, for the current conflict in Lebanon.
“It was Hezbollah that caused the destruction,” Bush said in a speech at the State Department. “They’re claiming victory. How can you claim victory when you were once a state within a state and now you’re going to be replaced by the Lebanese Army and an international force?” he asked.
Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah said earlier today in a taped television address that his guerrillas had achieved a “strategic, historic victory” against Israel
It has the faint whiff of delusion that all of his pronouncements about Iraq had in the early stages of the war when all was honky dory, there was no insurgency, we sallied forth from Kuwait and beat a path to Sadaam’s door in Baghdad. Let no clouds spoil his bright sunny day. But let’s pick apart his world view as represented by this passage. “Hezbollah caused the destruction.” Make any sense? No, of course not. Hezbollah started the fist fight to be sure. But Israel decided it would kick ass to show the bully a lesson, but it got its own nose bloodied into the bargain.
His statement, “How can you claim victory when you were once a state within a state and now you’re going to be replaced by the Lebanese Army and an international force?” is also bogus. First, there is absolutely no guarantee that anything written in the UN resolution will actually transpire. We may wish it to be so, but it may not be. Or some of the elements of the resolution may happen and some may not. But even if the entire resolution were implemented and the peacekeepers take up position and somehow miraculously persuade Hezbollah to disarm–does Bush believe the group will simply disappear? What a fool.
Today, Nasrallah began to outline Hezbollah’s ambitious plans to reconstruct the country. We’ll see how well he executes on his promises, but I have little reason to doubt that Hezbollah has every likelihood of being as politically powerful, if not more so, in the aftermath of this horrid conflict. The Lebanese government will certainly have little or no wherewithal to reconstruct anything. Hezbollah will. Of course, it would be nice if Georgie, Condi and Ehud created a Marshall Plan to fix the place they tore down. But I don’t see either pangs of conscience or shrewd pragmatic thinking inspiring them in this direction.
And it was just the same in Iraq as far as Bush was concerned. We didn’t need to worry about governing the country after the lightning war was concluded. Somehow the country would do it itself. We didn’t need to prevent looting because, well, it shouldn’t happen. Oops! This is what I call Bush’s Alfred E. Newman moment: “What me worry?” Or if you prefer a comedian’s bon mots: “‘T’s not my problem.”
Bush doesn’t give a shit about the long term: what will happen on the day after? When this is actually more important than what happened in the war itself. A great leader with commanding vision, as with a great chess player, looks at the field in front of him while simultaneously looking to what he will face in the future. A failed leader, as Olmert and Bush are, looks for the quick fix victory and ignores whatever comes after. Though in Olmert’s case he can’t even say that he won the quick fix victory as that eluded him
The following passage from today’s statement also contains this unintended, but delicious irony:
“People in the region need to take a step back and realize Hezbollah’s actions created a very strong reaction that unfortunately caused some innocent people to lose their life,” Bush said. “It’ll take time for people to see the truth.”
“It’ll take time,” indeed. How’s forever and a day for you, George? You can see the president flailing away at that pitch low and in the dirt hoping to hit it out of the park. All he ends up with is his bat striking thin air. Just like the rest of his presidency.