The strange fruit of self-delusion

Israel’s debacle, courtesy of Bush

With U.S. support, Israeli unilateralism was unfurled. The nation’s security has never been so endangered, or its moral authority so tarnished.

By Sidney Blumenthal

Aug. 17, 2006 | On Monday, the day the cease-fire was imposed on Israel’s war in Lebanon against Hezbollah, and just days after the London terrorists were arrested, President Bush strode to the podium at the State Department to describe global conflict in neater and tidier terms than any convoluted conspiracy theory. Almost in one breath he explained that events “from Baghdad to Beirut,” and Afghanistan, and London, are linked in “a broader struggle between freedom and terror”; that far-flung terrorism is “no coincidence,” caused by “a lack of freedom” — “We saw the consequences on September the 11th, 2001” — and that all these emanations are being combated by his administration’s “forward strategy of freedom in the broader Middle East,” and that “that strategy has helped bring hope to millions.” If there was any doubt about “coincidence,” he concluded a sequence stringing together Lebanon, Iraq and Iran by defiantly pledging, “The message of this administration is clear: America will stay on the offense against al-Qaida.” Thus Bush’s unified field theory of fear, if it is a theory.

Then, once again, Bush declared victory. Hezbollah, he asserted, had gained nothing from the war, but had “suffered a defeat.”

At the moment that Bush was speaking an Israeli poll was released that revealed the disintegration of public opinion there about the war aims and Israeli leadership. Fifty-two percent believed that the Israeli army was unsuccessful, and 58 percent believed Israel had achieved none of its objectives. The disapproval ratings of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz skyrocketed to 62 percent and 65 percent, respectively.

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