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Bush Faces Major Choice Amid Israeli Escalation

 
deepend
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07/13/2006 01:08 AM
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Bush Faces Major Choice Amid Israeli Escalation
[link to www.antiwar.com]
July 13, 2006
Bush Faces Major Choice Amid Israeli Escalation
by Jim Lobe

The sudden opening Wednesday by Lebanon's Hezbollah militia of a second front in Israel's ongoing campaign against Hamas militants in Gaza presents the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush with an escalating crisis that, until now, it has preferred to ignore.

The immediate question it faces is whether to maintain its strong backing for military action by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert or to engage in active diplomacy to prevent any further escalation and end the violence.

That the stakes are extraordinarily high was made clear not only by Olmert's decision to send the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) into Lebanon for the first time since Israel's withdrawal in 2000, but also by a White House statement issued Wednesday afternoon that promised to hold Syria and Iran "responsible for [the Hezbollah] attack and the ensuing violence."

"This is potentially very dangerous," Bassel Saloukh, a political scientist at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, told IPS in a telephone interview. "If the Americans take this to legitimate a strike against Iran or Syria, then I think it will escalate with devastating consequences."
^^ gravity is a harsh reality. ^^
Anonymous Coward
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07/13/2006 01:08 AM
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Re: Bush Faces Major Choice Amid Israeli Escalation
Why shit, the decision was made long ago..
deepend (OP)

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07/13/2006 01:11 AM
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Re: Bush Faces Major Choice Amid Israeli Escalation
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The two statements appeared to highlight the choice now faced by the administration – whether to treat the current crisis as something that can be resolved through quiet diplomacy and mediation involving primarily local actors, including Israel, the Palestinians, and Hezbollah, with help from Damascus, or as part of a larger regional confrontation between the U.S. and Israel, on the one hand, and Syria, Iran, and various non-state actors on the other, in which case a wider regional conflict was more likely. Hudson, who stressed that Syria's and Iran's role, if any, in encouraging Hezbollah to attack was "entirely speculative," said Damascus and Tehran "may have calculated that, with the Israelis now engaged in a two-front war, and with the Americans bogged down in Iraq, neither is prepared for any major military adventures."

He also suggested that Tehran, if it did give Hezbollah a green light for such an attack, may be trying to demonstrate its "strategic reach" – how much difficulty for Israel and the U.S. it can create – at a moment when Washington is trying to rally Europe, Russia, and China behind the UN Security Council if it fails to accept a U.S.-backed plan that would freeze its nuclear program.

"If Washington wants to go down that path, then it will use this as a pretext to hit Iran in order to contain it and nip its regional ambitions in the bud," said Saloukh. If, on the other hand, Washington "interprets this as an instrumental strategy by Hezbollah to free Lebanese and Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, then there's room for negotiation."
^^ gravity is a harsh reality. ^^

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