[Marxism] Mission accomplished?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Aug 15 17:44:43 MDT 2006

(Too long to post in its entirety but very much worth reading.)

Another 'Mission Accomplished' Moment?

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, August 15, 2006; 1:20 PM

President Bush's startling assertion yesterday -- that at the end of 33 
days of warfare between Israel and the Hezbollah militia, Hezbollah had 
been defeated -- once again raises questions about his ability to 
acknowledge reality when things don't turn out the way he intended.

Here, from the transcript of his appearance at the State Department, are 
his exact words: "Hezbollah started the crisis, and Hezbollah suffered a 
defeat in this crisis. And the reason why is, is that first, there is a new 
-- there's going to be a new power in the south of Lebanon, and that's 
going to be a Lebanese force with a robust international force to help them 
seize control of the country, that part of the country."

My first question: Did he really mean to say that?

Bush clearly intended to blame every bit of the terrible carnage on 
Hezbollah, even though most of it was inflicted by Israel. That point, he 
made over and over again. And his central point -- also controversial, but 
not new -- was this: "The conflict in Lebanon is part of a broader struggle 
between freedom and terror that is unfolding across the region."

But the conclusion that Hezbollah had been defeated was a rare, possibly 
unscripted moment of news-making amid a public appearance heavy on timeworn 
talking points about the march to freedom.

Furthermore, the White House position on winners and losers as expressed by 
spokesman Tony Snow just hours earlier was noncommittal.

"Q As you look at this, the month-long war in the Mideast, who won?

"MR. SNOW: I'm not sure -- right now what's won is diplomacy has won."

My second question: If Bush did mean to say it, how will he and his aides 
defend it?

The defeat of Hezbollah was clearly Bush's goal in stalling the 
international drive for a humanitarian cease-fire for a month. White House 
hawks, led by Vice President Cheney, argued that Israel should be given 
time to score a major military victory in a proxy war against Iran.

But Bush's insistence that Hezbollah lost appears to be wishful thinking.

Hezbollah, by most accounts, suffered some military setbacks but has 
emerged in a stronger political position than ever before. Israel, by 
contrast, is generally considered to have lost its aura of military 
invincibility. American clout in the region has taken a big hit. Lebanon's 
fragile democracy has suffered a terrible blow. And the biggest losers, of 
course, were the people of Lebanon.
The Coverage

Michael A. Fletcher writes in The Washington Post: "President Bush asserted 
yesterday that Hezbollah was defeated in its month-long conflict with 
Israel, casting the fighting that killed hundreds of Lebanese and Israeli 
civilians as part of a wider struggle 'between freedom and terrorism.' "

But as Fletcher notes: "The campaign did not go as well as the United 
States and Israel had expected. Despite a devastating air assault and an 
intense ground campaign, Israel's military was unable to gain full control 
of the border area in southern Lebanon against elusive and well-fortified 
Hezbollah fighters. Also, some observers believe the conflict burnished the 
popularity of Hezbollah in Lebanon, even as it resulted in hundreds of 
civilian causalities and massive destruction of infrastructure across Lebanon."

Jim Rutenberg writes in the New York Times: "President Bush on Monday 
defended his handling of the war between Israel and Hezbollah, declaring 
that Hezbollah had been the loser in the monthlong fight and warning Syria 
and Iran against resupplying the Lebanese militia.

"Mr. Bush spoke as he and his advisers sought to portray the cease-fire 
deal that was established under a United Nations Security Council 
resolution as an affirmation of American foreign policy.

" 'It took a while to get the resolution done,' Mr. Bush said at the State 
Department. 'But most objective observers would give the United States 
credit for helping to lead the effort to get a resolution that addressed 
the root cause of the problem.' "

But, Rutenberg writes: "Even as they expressed optimism, White House 
officials said nonetheless that only time would tell whether the cease-fire 
would hold and whether Hezbollah would ultimately be disarmed. And a senior 
official, who agreed to speak candidly in return for anonymity, 
acknowledged the possibility that Hezbollah would build public support in 
southern Lebanon by flooding the area with rebuilding money, as it has 
vowed to do."

Peter Wallsten writes in the Los Angeles Times: "For weeks, the Bush 
administration resisted international pressure for a cease-fire between 
Israel and Hezbollah, insisting that only disarming the militant group 
would cure a 'root cause' of hostility.

"But the truce that took effect Monday left Hezbollah largely intact and 
outlines no clear path to its disarmament -- a far less dramatic conclusion 
than many in the administration had hoped for when the fighting began last 

"That contrast was evident Monday, as President Bush sought to portray the 
United Nations deal as a success, calling his administration's efforts with 
Israel and Lebanon part of a 'forward strategy of freedom in the broader 
Middle East.'

"But when asked how the resolution would weaken Hezbollah and cut it off 
from its sponsors in Iran and Syria, the president could make no assurances 
beyond a sense of optimism."


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