And the opening salvo is...

Sy comin' atch ya with some new investagative report. This one doesn't have pictures, but it's pretty revealing. Adds up...told you so about it being a pretext, but it makes sense that they'd want to take out Hezzie positions before striking Iran. It's tactically sound preparation for the new war. Don'tch ya think ;?

UPdate: Here's Hersh's original article in full.

Published on Monday, August 14, 2006 by the Independent / UK
Bush 'Viewed War in Lebanon as a Curtain-Raiser for Attack on Iran'
by Andrew Buncombe

The Bush administration was informed in advance and gave the "green light" to Israel's military strikes against Hizbollah with plans drawn up months before two Israeli soldiers were seized it has been claimed.

The US reportedly considered Israel's actions as a necessary prerequisite for a possible strike against Iran. A report by a leading investigative reporter says that earlier this summer Israeli officials visited Washington to brief the government on its plan to respond to any Hizbollah provocation and to "find out how much the US would bear".

The officials apparently started their inquiries with Vice-President Dick Cheney, knowing that if they secured his support, obtaining the backing of President Bush and Condoleezza Rice would be easier.

The report by Seymour Hersh quotes an unidentified US government consultant with close ties to the Israelis who says: "The Israelis told us it would be a cheap war with many benefits. Why oppose it? We'll be able to hunt down and bomb missiles, tunnels, and bunkers from the air. It would be a demo for Iran."

A former intelligence officer, also quoted, says: "We told Israel,'Look, if you guys have to go, we're behind you all the way. But we think it should be sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the less time we have to evaluate and plan for Iran before Bush gets out of office'."

Both Israeli and US officials say that the Israeli military operation against Hizbollah was triggered by the seizing of two Israeli soldiers, apparently to be bargained with for a possible prisoner swap. But Hersh's report, published in today's issue of The New Yorker, adds to evidence that Israel had been anticipating a Hizbollah provocation for some time and planning its response a response that was widely condemned for being disproportionate.

Last month the San Francisco Chronicle reported that "Israel's military response by air, land and sea to what it considered a provocation last week by Hizbollah militants was unfolding according to a plan finalised more than a year ago". The report said that a senior Israeli army officer had been briefing diplomats, journalists and think-tanks for more than a year about the plan and it quoted Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at [Israel's] Bar-Ilan University, who said: "Of all of Israel's wars since 1948, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared." Last week the New Statesman magazine reported that Britain had also been informed in advance of the military preparations and that the Prime Minister had chosen not to try to stop them "because he did not want to".

This latest report is the first to tie the Israeli operation to a broader framework that includes a possible US strike against Iran.

Unidentified officials said a strike could "ease Israel's security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American pre-emptive attack". Shabtai Shavit, a national security adviser to the Knesset, said: "We do what we think is best for us, and if it happens to meet America's requirements, that's just part of a relationship between two friends. Hizbollah is armed to the teeth and trained in the most advanced technology of guerrilla warfare. It was just a matter of time."

An anonymous Middle East expert claimed that while the State Department supported the plan because it believed it would help the Lebanese government assert control over the south, the White House was focussed on stripping Hizbollah of its missiles.

The expert added: "If there was to be a military option against Iran's nuclear facilities, it had to get rid of the weapons that Hizbollah could use in a potential retaliation at Israel. Bush was going after Iran, as part of the 'axis of evil', and its nuclear sites, and he was interested in going after Hizbollah as part of his interest in democratisation."

Last night the White House denied the allegations contained in Hersh's piece with a brief statement from the President describing it as "patently untrue". Mr Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, added: " The suggestion that the US and Israel planned and co-ordinated an attack on Hizbollah ­ and did so as a prelude to an attack on Iran is just flat wrong."

Neocon Democrat Leiberman loses grace and the CT primary

Or is it the CT primary and grace?

This is a semi-watershed moment in the circus that is American politics.

Dick Cheney's favorite son has been vanquished...washed ashore, found out, and pegged by CT voters. Sore Loserman will run as an independent. But this will serve as a commercial to the failure of America's Iraq policy. So, as Senor Bush once said so famously, bring it on Bodies-man.

Whether or not people will be as smart as CT voters elsewhere is highly unlikely. I believe, if I'm not mistaken,
Connecticut has a higher ratio per capita of advanced degrees than any other state in the union.
Stupid America, in other words, could still yet not figure out the Iraq-con. But lets just hope this snowballs into an informing avalanche. And now that Hillary has called for Rummy's resignation, all bets are off.

On other fronts, the terror plot that was foiled so remarkably by the diligence of Met Police of London shall change the equation for midterm elections. The problem for GOPers now is that they can't really claim to having a good track-record on national security issues. They haven't made the world any safer. And now that 60 percent of Americans are against the Iraq war, their platform just became a bit more shaky...as evidenced and indicative by Loserman's loss.

A veritable feed-back loop of HALLELUJAHs!

Sitting on the bluff while bluffing

How can we save Israeli face? This is the million dollar question now.
Olmert has a 7 & 2 off-suit and is betting before the flop.

The bluff has arrived. The threat has been issued.
If you don't figure it out soon, we will make Lebanon dark for a few years. The sequence of events in the last day or so cannot be clearer as to what the situation is developing as.

The cabinet has approved a 30 day escalation of violence. Therefore the Abyss-simulator has been presented to the Lebanese and the world. I know for sure Lebanese won't buy this. The world, on the other hand, always buys Israeli BS. Israel then quickly said it could wait to the weekend for a diplomatic solution. Does the mixed message remind you of any tactic that, say, the US used when prosecuting the war on Iraq initally? The pressure of the psychological mix-up waiting-game is upon us. Plainly, Israel is bluffing on the bluff.

When you're already in the Abyss, it's hard to convince others that you have a bigger Abyss to put them in...isn't it?

I'm only afraid of what will happen when the Hezzies call Israel's bluff. It would be the equivalent of Israel getting up from the poker table and leaving while refusing to pay up. We didn't win...so we're not going to play by anybody's rules. And we remember the last time that happened on the world stage (hint hint, Iraq). And look at the intractable mess we're in Iraq because of the mere attittude put on by the neocons. Admitting failure is not an option. Pffff...

So, if you see somebody sitting on a bluff while bluffing...please give him or her a compliment and some assurances.
As you can see, I don't mind saving Israeli face as long as we can save lives in both Lebanon and Israel.
And now that Lebanon is all but destroyed and having its true spirit sucked out of it by extremists both within and without, there's really nothing else left worth saving but lives.

What can I say, I'm a pragmatist peace-mongerer. If the Hezzies call Israel's bluff without any sort of agreement, all parties will be dreading the following months and years to come. This much I'm sure of...

Advice to Israel: Settle the Chebaa Farms issue and Hizbollah will have no other legitimate reason to be armed to the tooth. Thus you will undermine them best by giving back this land to Lebanon. Don't continue the war regardless. Because even once you occupy southern Lebanon again, the Hezzies will have taken over the rest of Lebanon and you will just be targeted from there. It will be another endless cycle of violence, which I know you are such experts at propelling. Though most would agree that expertise in such matters is as futile as a castrated man trying to father a child.

Advice to Hezzies: Don't call the bluff, because it will only mean more innocent civilians will die on both sides. Take the hard-ons you get from firing missles randomly at Israel and put them to better use. And anyway, you've shown the world that you're a formidable force that cannot be defeated and earned the respect of your enemy. You don't need to save face, but they do. I venture to say that it wasn't worth the destruction of Lebanon, but parts of me believe that the Israeli response was always going to be as brutal and indiscriminate as it was.

All parties engaged in this conflict have the maturity of a bean sprout with none of the nutrition.
And thus, there will never be a real solution.
I'm fed-up.
Bye bye,

More (updated) maps of Lebanon

Go here for them.

There's one for Locations bombed and Transport and Vital Sites bombed.

Wow George, u really drove the point home. + rant

Norm, thanks again...

Just go here and watch this 9 minute interview...where Georgey Galloway rips a new you-know-what in the interviewer.

One thing that rang in my ear loudest was the last thing he said to the Sky News reporter.

"You believe, whether you know it or not, that Israeli blood is more valuable than the blood of Lebanese or Palestinians. That's the truth."

And yes, indeed I agree, racism is what a lot of this boils down to...but honestly, I really am in no mood to get to that right now. This is a flaw of the most basic part of human nature. Racism is a scourge that will never ever be lifted from the human family no matter how many million WO/man marches are held. The saddest thing now for Lebanon is that their million man march was instigated by Israeli terrorism. That's right. Now approximately 1 million Lebanese are homeless, marching into the unknown. Fitting, I guess, since this situation looks like it is also marching in that direction. And after the most recent emergency Security Council meeting...it is safe to say Israel has no intention of stopping.

Oh, but now I'm going on...and I'm really in no mood to speak my mind here.
Simply because it's all so depressing. I feel like the spirit of Lebanon is being murdered...not just its innocent women and children. And I know the peace and security of Israelis are now in danger as well, and I'm not happy about that because; one, I value all human life equally...and two, I don't want perpetual war. All any progressive/moderate Lebanese want is peace. But these dinosaurs and their warmongering ways and plans are still alive and kicking. Instead of nurturing the moderate voice, the Israeli and American governments have allowed for the nurturing of terrorists through their insane knee-jerk reactions (or excuses) to carry out their "master plan" for the "new middle east". It almost appears as if they wish to create more terrorists, doesn't it?

When will these animals just die-out so that the younger generation can absolve the region of this situation. That's the other thing, because of this latest episode of death I believe this possibility is less likely. Essentially, we're Fucked with a capital F.

The longer this thing goes on, the more obvious all this will become.
I believe we are now in the Abyss.

Hezzie Coup d'Etat: Michael Young

I ran across this on the WaPo blog.
It's very disconcerting to me because I agree with it.
If this is what the future really might hold for Lebanon, then I'm one sad puppy.
Regression never disgusted me more.

Hezbollah's Coup d'Etat

Beirut, Lebanon - There is real danger today that Hezbollah will inherit Lebanon after the war. If it does, an uncontainable civil war will probably ensue.

Militarily, Israel has not scored a decisive victory that would compel the militia to disarm. Hezbollah will use this "triumph" to defeat its adversaries inside Lebanon who want it to surrender its weapons.

At the same time, the Israelis have devastated the Shiite community. They have broken down any Lebanese consensus around the party and have neutralized Hezbollah's military deterrence capability (there to serve Iran) since the party cannot possibly put its coreligionists through another catastrophe similar to the one faced today. These setbacks, in turn, will encourage the party to go on the offensive domestically to refocus the anger of its supporters away from its own responsibility for the disaster and toward its domestic foes.

What will this mean for the Middle East? It will be a severe setback for a rare liberal outpost in the region and may carry Lebanon into a new civil war since no one will longer accept Hezbollah's hegemony. It will heighten Sunni-Shiite tension in the country and the region. It will be another nail in the coffin of the Bush administration's ambition to create a democratic Arab world. It could transform Lebanon into a new version of Gaza, proving that Israel is remarkably adept at ensuring that its worst foes inherit power on its borders. And it will mean the death of a country that, for all its faults, nonetheless tried to recreate a formula for peaceful coexistence between its religious communities in 1990 when that Lebanese civil war ended.

Looks like they have their pretext for the Iran war

And it goes a little something like this...

Two birds, one stone?

Hizbullah is still being armed and re-supplied by Iran and Syria, so we (America) have to address the root causes of this cancer on Lebanese and global society by attacking these two countries and enforcing our (oft-used) policy of regime change in the "New Middle East." Democracy by the barrel of a gun. We will either kill them or democratize them, whichever comes first.

It seems to me they're going to have their war with Iran in 6 months (if not less) whether the world likes it or not.

Of course, this is insane...and could precipitate in the collapse of the global economy when Iran blocks all oil from leaving the gulf. But I wouldn't get this one past them for a moment. And now they're realizing that the Maliki "government" are on the side of the Hezzies and they've lost it. They wonder, is it too late to switch sides and support the Sunni Iraqis?

What a pickle.

I'm looking at the situation now...and I'm both saddened and pessimistic for all parties involved.

This thing is only beginning. It could get much much worse. And I mean much much worse.

When I think of it, Israel is quickly uniting a people that could never in a million years have been united otherwise. They have done what millions of Lebanese could not do themselves under any circumstance. They have created the circumstance where unification was not a choice, but the only possibility.

And it looks like the counter-attack to Qana was the rocket attack on Haifa, which has struck an Arab neighborhood (in Haifa). Killing three innocent people, wounding 120 more. Talk about ignoble fate...Imagine being the Arab family in Israel, explaining to your children what happened when your Arab brothers in Lebanon have delivered such a fate to you.

Welcome to the "New Middle East"...
We like our irony thick.

And poor poor Lebanon is still dying. For what? For their pretext? For their war.
Is this how it's going to go down?

I still find it hard to believe, but it's clear as day. They'll have their war if they want it.
They always will.

So sad, so so sad...

I have one wish today.
And that is, I hope peace will prevail over the minds of warmongerers in this eleventh hour. The killing of innocents must stop. All parties that conduct their war in this dispicable way are enemies of peace. The parties that kill more innocents are more guilty. This is logic. But as long as innocents are killed, the cycle of violence will not end. So, I implore upon Bush and Co to think twice about what they are doing to their childrens' future if and when they begin the new war.

If only B&Co took the high road, valued all human life equally, and tried they're best to prevent all innocents from dying immediately. Instead, they send more bombs to Israel to drop on Lebanon each day. How are America's friends in Lebanon in the New Middle East, supposed to react? React by saying thank you for destroying our country that was just getting on our feet from a decade of civil war?

Have I made my point?
Stop ushering in this apocalyptic moment, you freaks of war.
Stop now.

Half of Americans are still Idiots

Half of U.S. Still Believes Iraq Had WMD

People tend to become ``independent of reality'' in these circumstances, says opinion analyst Steven Kull.

The reality in this case is that after a 16-month, $900-million-plus investigation, the U.S. weapons hunters known as the Iraq Survey Group declared that Iraq had dismantled its chemical, biological and nuclear arms programs in 1991 under U.N. oversight. That finding in 2004 reaffirmed the work of U.N. inspectors who in 2002-03 found no trace of banned arsenals in Iraq.

Despite this, a Harris Poll released July 21 found that a full 50 percent of U.S. respondents - up from 36 percent last year - said they believe Iraq did have the forbidden arms when U.S. troops invaded in March 2003, an attack whose stated purpose was elimination of supposed WMD. Other polls also have found an enduring American faith in the WMD story.

``I'm flabbergasted,'' said Michael Massing, a media critic whose writings dissected the largely unquestioning U.S. news reporting on the Bush administration's shaky WMD claims in 2002-03.

``This finding just has to cause despair among those of us who hope for an informed public able to draw reasonable conclusions based on evidence,'' Massing said.

..to read more

UPDATE: Related to the previous story is this Krugman piece in the Times.

Paul Krugman: Reign of Error

Reign of Error
Published: July 28, 2006

Amid everything else that's going wrong in the world, here's one more piece of depressing news: a few days ago the Harris Poll reported that 50 percent of Americans now believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when we invaded, up from 36 percent in February 2005. Meanwhile, 64 percent still believe that Saddam had strong links with Al Qaeda.

At one level, this shouldn't be all that surprising. The people now running America never accept inconvenient truths. Long after facts they don't like have been established, whether it's the absence of any wrongdoing by the Clintons in the Whitewater affair or the absence of W.M.D. in Iraq, the propaganda machine that supports the current administration is still at work, seeking to flush those facts down the memory hole.

But it's dismaying to realize that the machine remains so effective.

Here's how the process works.

First, if the facts fail to support the administration position on an issue - stem cells, global warming, tax cuts, income inequality, Iraq - officials refuse to acknowledge the facts.

Sometimes the officials simply lie. "The tax cuts have made the tax code more progressive and reduced income inequality," Edward Lazear, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, declared a couple of months ago. More often, however, they bob and weave.

Consider, for example, Condoleezza Rice's response a few months ago, when pressed to explain why the administration always links the Iraq war to 9/11. She admitted that Saddam, "as far as we know, did not order Sept. 11, may not have even known of Sept. 11." (Notice how her statement, while literally true, nonetheless seems to imply both that it's still possible that Saddam ordered 9/11, and that he probably did know about it.) "But," she went on, "that's a very narrow definition of what caused Sept. 11."

Meanwhile, apparatchiks in the media spread disinformation. It's hard to imagine what the world looks like to the large number of Americans who get their news by watching Fox and listening to Rush Limbaugh, but I get a pretty good sense from my mailbag.

Many of my correspondents are living in a world in which the economy is better than it ever was under Bill Clinton, newly released documents show that Saddam really was in cahoots with Osama, and the discovery of some decayed 1980s-vintage chemical munitions vindicates everything the administration said about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. (Hyping of the munitions find may partly explain why public belief that Saddam had W.M.D. has made a comeback.)

Some of my correspondents have even picked up on claims, mostly disseminated on right-wing blogs, that the Bush administration actually did a heck of a job after Katrina.

And what about the perceptions of those who get their news from sources that aren't de facto branches of the Republican National Committee?

The climate of media intimidation that prevailed for several years after 9/11, which made news organizations very cautious about reporting facts that put the administration in a bad light, has abated. But it's not entirely gone. Just a few months ago major news organizations were under fierce attack from the right over their supposed failure to report the 'good news' from Iraq - and my sense is that this attack did lead to a temporary softening of news coverage, until the extent of the carnage became undeniable. And the conventions of he-said-she-said reporting, under which lies and truth get equal billing, continue to work in the administration's favor.

Whatever the reason, the fact is that the Bush administration continues to be remarkably successful at rewriting history. For example, Mr. Bush has repeatedly suggested that the United States had to invade Iraq because Saddam wouldn't let U.N. inspectors in. His most recent statement to that effect was only a few weeks ago. And he gets away with it. If there have been reports by major news organizations pointing out that thatss not at all what happened, I've missed them.

It's all very Orwellian, of course. But when Orwell wrote of 'a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past,' he was thinking of totalitarian states. Who would have imagined that history would prove so easy to rewrite in a democratic nation with a free press?

He doesn't want the killing to stop, until he's sure it will stop. So there will be more killing until the President is convinced that there will...

...be no more killing.

God bless Jon Stewart over and over and over and over...

How does General Abizaid feel about what's happening in Lebanon?

I woke up today thinking about this question.

As America's most influential General, Commander of U.S. Central Command, and a Lebanese-American...I wonder how he really feels about the mass destruction being layed upon the land of his parents and grandparents.

Visitors to this site may speculate, but I want to hear from the General himself.

Would he respond if I wrote him a letter asking him this?
Would he even respond truthfully? Could he respond truthfully?
Or would his job depend on his response?

And it makes me wonder...(hat tip to Led Zepplin)

Monbiot: The king of fairyland will never grasp the realities of the Middle East

U.S. President George W. Bush gathers with the top nine American Idol 2006 finalists in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, July 28, 2006.


A US leader in his second term should have the power to rein in Israel. But George Bush is no ordinary president

George Monbiot
Tuesday August 1, 2006
The Guardian

Of all the curious things that have been written about Israel's assault on Lebanon, surely the oddest is contained in Paddy Ashdown's article on these pages last Saturday. "There is only one solution to this crisis, and it is the same solution we have to find in Iraq: to go for a wider Middle East settlement and to do it urgently. The US cannot do this. But Europe can."

The US cannot do this? What on earth does he mean? At first sight his contention seems plain wrong. While Israel intends to sustain its occupation of Palestinian territory, a wider settlement is impossible. It surely follows that the country that has the greatest potential leverage over Israel is the country with the greatest power to broker peace. Israel's foreign policy and military strategy is dependent on the approval of the United States.

Though Israel ranks 23rd on the global development index - above Greece, Singapore, Portugal and Brunei - it remains the world's largest recipient of US aid. The US government dispensed $11bn of civil foreign assistance in 2004. Of this, Israel received $555m; the three poorest nations on earth - Burkina Faso, Sierra Leone and Niger - were given a total of $69m. More importantly, last year Israel also received $2.2bn of military aid.

It does not depend economically on this assistance. Its gross domestic product amounts to $155bn, and its military budget to $9.5bn. It manufactures many of its own weapons and buys components from all over the world, including - as the Guardian revealed last week - the United Kingdom. Rather, it depends upon it diplomatically. Most of the money given by the US foreign military financing programme - in common with all US aid disbursements - is spent in the United States. Israel uses it to obtain F-15 and F-16 jets; Apache, Cobra and Blackhawk helicopters; AGM, AIM and Patriot missiles, M-16 rifles, M-204 grenade launchers and M-2 machine guns. As the Prestwick scandal revealed, laser-guided bombs, even now, are being sent to Israel from the United States.

Many of these weapons have been used to kill Palestinian civilians and are being used in Lebanon today. The US arms export control act states that "no defence article or defence service shall be sold or leased by the United States government" unless its provision "will strengthen the security of the United States and promote world peace". Weapons may be sold "to friendly countries solely for internal security, for legitimate self-defence [or for] maintaining or restoring international peace and security".

By giving these weapons to Israel, the US government is, in effect, stating that all its military actions are being pursued in the cause of legitimate self-defence, American interests and world peace. The US also becomes morally complicit in Israel's murder of civilians. The diplomatic cover this provides is indispensable.

Since 1972 the US has used its veto in the UN security council on 40 occasions to prevent the passage of resolutions that sought either to defend the rights of the Palestinians or to condemn the excesses of Israel's government. This is a greater number of vetoes than all the other permanent members have deployed in the same period. The most recent instance, on July 13, was the squashing of a motion condemning both the Israeli assault on Gaza and the firing of rockets and abduction of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian groups. Over the past few days, the United States, supported by Britain, has blocked all international attempts to introduce an immediate ceasefire, giving Israel the clear impression that it has a mandate to continue its assault on Lebanon.

It is plain to anyone - and this must include Paddy Ashdown - that Israel could not behave as it does without the diplomatic protection of the United States. If the US government announced that it would cease to offer military and diplomatic support if Israel refused to hand back the occupied territories, Israel would have to negotiate. The US government has power over that country. But can it be used?

A paper published in March by the US academics John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt documents the extraordinary influence the "Israel lobby" exercises in Washington. They argue that the combined forces of evangelical Christian groups and Jewish American organisations such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee ensure that "Israel is virtually immune from criticism" in Congress and "also has significant leverage over the executive branch". Politicians who support the Israeli government are showered with funds, the paper contends, while those who contest it are cowed by letter-writing campaigns and vilification in the media. If all else fails, the"great silencer" is deployed: the charge of anti-semitism. Those who oppose the policies of the Israeli government are accused of hating Jews.

All this makes an even-handed policy difficult, but not impossible. Standing up to bullies is surely the key test of leadership. A US president in his second term is in a powerful position to demand that Israel pulls back and negotiates.

But if Ashdown meant that it is impossible psychologically and intellectually for the US government to act, he might have a point. At his press conference with Tony Blair last Friday, George Bush laid out his usual fairy tale about the conflict in the Middle East. "There's a lot of suffering in Lebanon," he explained, "because Hizbullah attacked Israel. There's a lot of suffering in the Palestinian territory because militant Hamas is trying to stop the advance of democracy. There is suffering in Iraq because terrorists are trying to spread sectarian violence and stop the spread of democracy." The current conflict in Lebanon "started, out of the blue, with two Israeli soldiers kidnapped and rockets being fired across the border".

I agree that Hizbullah fired the first shots. But out of the blue? Israel's earlier occupation of southern Lebanon; its continued occupation of the Golan Heights; its occupation and partial settlement of the West Bank and gradual clearance of Jerusalem; its shelling of civilians, power plants, bridges and pipelines in Gaza; its beating and shooting of children; its imprisonment or assassination of Palestinian political leaders; its bulldozing of homes; its humiliating and often lethal checkpoints: all these are, in Bush's mind, either fictional or carry no political consequences. The same goes for the US invasion and occupation of Iraq and the constant threats Bush issues to Syria and Iran. There is only one set of agents at work - the terrorists - and their motivation arises autochthonously from the evil in their hearts.

Israel is not solely to blame for this crisis. The firing of rockets into its cities is an intolerable act of terrorism. But to understand why the people assaulting that country will not put down their arms, the king of fairyland would be forced to come to terms with the consequences of Israel's occupation of other people's lands and of its murder of civilians; of his own invasion of Iraq and of his failure, across the past six years, to treat the Palestinians fairly. And this he seems incapable of doing. Instead, his answers last Friday suggested, Bush is constructing a millenarian narrative of escalating conflict leading to the final triumph of freedom and democracy.

So I fear that Paddy Ashdown may be right. The United States cannot pursue a wider settlement in the Middle East, for it is led by a man who lives in a world of his own.