This morning on the Today Show, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow argued that “nobody has been more diplomatically active than we have” in the Middle East, citing all the phone calls White House officials have made in recent daysThen I read the transcript.
MATT LAUER: Alright, let’s talk about the Secretary of State. She’s going to travel to the region next week. Critics say it’s too little too late, what’s your response?"Diplomacy" means, of course, we've been talking to Israel and urging them on.
TONY SNOW: The critics got it wrong. The United States has been very actively engaged on the diplomatic front ever since the beginning of this. Secretary Rice has spoken repeatedly with leaders throughout the region. The President has been picking leaders and speaking with leaders who are not only in the neighborhood, but in the position to provide leverage and influence over the governments who are chiefly responsible for supporting Hezbollah, that would be Iran and Syria. He’s spoken with the King of Saudi Arabia, he’s spoken with the King of Jordan, he’s spoken with the President of Egypt, he’s spoken with the prime minister of Turkey. Every day the departments of state and defense are on the phone with colleagues throughout the region, every day the national security advisor.
So what I’m saying here is that people are talking about too little too late in diplomacy, they may not be keeping the scorecard. But the fact is, nobody has been more diplomatically active than we have.
And the GOP thinks Bolton is doing such a good job, they want to hold a new hearing on his nomination. I know the Israeli lobby is the only one more zealous than the anti-Castro lobby; but are we reall this insane?
Nothing I'm hearing on NPR, CNN, or reading in the New York Times indicates the whole country is crazy about what Israel is doing. For example, the NYTimes reports tonight that Bush has expedited the delivery of precision guided bombs to Israel, presumably the better to target Lebanese neighborhoods. And, the article notes, no real attempt at diplomacy is even being made:
The decision to stay away from Arab countries for now is a markedly different strategy from the shuttle diplomacy that previous administrations used to mediate in the Middle East. “I have no interest in diplomacy for the sake of returning Lebanon and Israel to the status quo ante,” Ms. Rice said Friday. “I could have gotten on a plane and rushed over and started shuttling around, and it wouldn’t have been clear what I was shuttling to do.”I don't think anyone is fooled by this. It's clear Bush just wants more war, and even though we aren't involved in it militarily, and while Bolton may well be confirmed (who in the electorate really cares who the UN Ambassador is?), I don't think this is a big winner for Bush or the GOP.
And still it gets worse and worse....
Implicit in the eventual diplomatic package is a cease-fire. But a senior American official said it remained unclear whether, under such a plan, Hezbollah would be asked to retreat from southern Lebanon and commit to a cease-fire, or whether American diplomats might depend on Israel’s continued bombardment to make Hezbollah’s acquiescence irrelevant.Quelle surprise.