Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A White House Divided

I've been kind of amazed at Condi's support for the war. My impression of her had been that she was much more of the "realist" school; and when it comes to Israel, the realist school always demands capitulation and diplomacy.

I even wrote in my first post about this war that very soon after the war began Condi and her state department would start signaling it was disproportionate and needed to be brought to a close.

But now, if this article in Insight Magazine is to be believed, it turns out that this war has been the occasion of the first Bush/Condi schism. And Condi and the State Department want to end it. Whereas Bush has broken with her advice on this, has his own view and it is more aligned with the Cheney/Rumsfeld wing which wants Israel to go on, and hopefully do some work towards finishing Hizbullah off.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has become increasingly dismayed over President Bush's support for Israel to continue its war with Hezbollah...

For the last 18 months,Condi was given nearly carte blanche in setting foreign policy guidelines," a senior government source familiar with the issue said. "All of a sudden, the president has a different opinion and he wants the last word."

The disagreement between Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice is over the ramifications of U.S. support for Israel's continued offensive against Lebanon. The sources said Mr. Bush believes that Israel's failure to defeat Hezbollah would encourage Iranian adventurism in neighboring Iraq. Ms. Rice has argued that the United States would be isolated both in the Middle East and Europe at a time when the administration seeks to build a consensus against Iran's nuclear weapons program.

Instead, Ms. Rice believes the United States should engage Iran and Syria to pressure Hezbollah to end the war with Israel. Ms. Rice has argued that such an effort would result in a U.S. dialogue with Damascus and Tehran on Middle East stability...

Ms. Rice's biggest supporter has been Brent Scowcroft, who served under the first Bush administration as national security advisor...

A comprehensive peace settlement would not only defang the radicals in Lebanon and Palestine, and their supporters in other countries, it would also reduce the influence of Iran -- the country that, under its current ideology, poses the greatest potential threat to stability in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt and Jordan," Mr. Scowcroft wrote in a column in the Washington Post on July 30.

The sources said Mr. Bush's position has been supported by Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and to a lesser extent National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. They have urged the president to hold off international pressure and give Israel more time to cause strategic damage to Hezbollah as well as Iranian and Syrian interests in Lebanon...

Aides for Mr. Cheney have argued that the United States should have targeted Hezbollah and Syria during the war against Iraq in 2003. They said despite U.S. intelligence warnings Hezbollah was allowed to dominate Lebanon and build a formidable force along the Israeli border.

"There was talk of taking care of Hezbollah and Syria, but Condi and [then-Secretary of State Colin] Powell said 'no way. We don't need another front,'" an official said.


At 9:11 PM, Blogger Attila said...

I find this stuff about Condi very depressing. Not necessarily wrong, just very depressing. I had high hopes, I guess.

At 11:11 AM, Blogger Alcibiades said...

Yep, it is very depressing. She's gone back to her Brent Scowcroftian "realist" roots, if, indeed, she ever departed from them.

It's even more depressing because Olmert appears intent on dithering around and losing this war, so any severe action to all the Lebanese civilians is less justifiable than if he had actually achieved an important goal, like breaking the back of Hizbullah.


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