If Hezbollah is going to be destroyed, Israel will need to do this, heavily backed by U.S. military reserves. But of course, this would inflame the Shiite governors of Iran. They are bent on reifying their defiance of the West by the eloquent expedient of acquiring nuclear weapons. When this is done, not even Condi will be able seriously to effect rearrangements in the Mideast of a kind that a) guarantee the independence and longevity of Israel, b) give to Palestine plausible statehood, and c) induce the tranquilization of Iraq as a three-nation state, with Sunnis, Kurds and Shiites sharing the territory and the oil.
But this advances no program for the next fortnight, let alone for the balance of President Bush's term in office. It is unlikely that Teheran would provoke nuclear attack by the United States. Its demands have to fall short of this. Whether they will fall short enough to permit galvanized military action to destroy Hezbollah can't be predicted. But nothing less than that will affect the current crisis decisively enough to bring restabilization.
True, the United States can inform Israel that military moves of substantial strategic consequence have to be OK'd by the only power on Earth whose collaboration in a serious Israeli military enterprise would permit its success.
We do not know, and it is probably best that we should not have known, whether Israel was intending to go to war in Lebanon to retrieve its two soldiers. Israel always gives the impression that it is acting on its own, though it is genuinely solicitous of approval of what it undertakes. Whether the people of the Mideast believe it that the United States was not complicit in this new war by Israel, we don't know. But any ongoing and decisive Israeli action against Hezbollah and Syria would be unthinkable without the outspoken support of the United States. The alternative is complete U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East, which is almost unthinkable.
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