David Brooks devoted his entire Sunday New York Times column to a truncated verbatim text of an interview he had on background with a Bush Administration "policy maker" on our Middle East foreign policy. It reveals several shrewd assessments, but also an undeniable air of unreality and defeatism. If the comments are a true reflection of President Bush's views, then one is obliged to re-assess virtually every word the administration expresses on the topics of the Middle East and terrorism.
I will not play the game of trying to guess who the background "policy maker" is. But I know Mr. Brooks to be a highly ethical, fully professional moderately conservative journalist. It is inconceivable that he would devote his entire Sunday N.Y. Times column to the verbatim comments of some disgruntled GS 16 at the State Department. Moreover, he characterizes the words as "shed[ding] light on where we've been and where we're going." Thus, I take the words seriously. So should you.
There are two passages that particularly disturb me. Here is the first: "In Lebanon there will be a truce that will leave the current armies in place (which the Israelis won't like). Then we can insert an international force. We won't be able to disarm Hezbollah, but we may be able to help the Lebanese Army secure the border. The thing to understand is that the international force may never materialize. The key is Hezbollah. If they decide to harvest their gains by becoming a peaceful player in the Lebanese government, then the international force can come in. But if they decide to destabilize the government ... then there'll be no force. Israel would have to find a way to withdraw at a time of its own choosing. But if Hezbollah keeps fighting, it will have accepted responsibility for breaking the international deal, and Israel will have greater freedom to act."
Egad. Does the "policy maker" really believe that Hezbollah may "harvest their gains by becoming a peaceful player"? This is a pathological case of wishful thinking. Not much more realistic is the later statement that if Hezbollah keeps fighting, "it will have to accept responsibility for breaking the international deal ... ." Have to take responsibility? They will be bragging across the Middle East of their victory to the only audience they care about -- the Arab street (and the broader Muslim world).
In either contingency that the "policy maker" suggests, Israel will be politically badly damaged, Hezbollah will be strengthened, radical Islam will have a new triumph to tout to their growing army of Muslim recruits around the world -- and the United States will have been dealt another body blow in the war against radical Islamist aggression.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.