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Sunday Gasbaggery: Fox Sunday: John Bolton, Hastart, Gigot Joins Roundtable

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Lebanon Travis Fox Wa Po
Image by Travis Fox, Washington Post

Beware of Premature Cease-fires

That's the headline from the entire of Sunday's Pundit Pap, phrase courtesy of the American Politics Journal.

What I learned this Sunday: The Middle East is experiencing a new, if painful, birth of freedom; Bush & Co, and all supporters, were wrong in none of what they thought, said, and most of all did; Israel's attack on Lebanon is yet another step in the plan, and, goodie, goodie, another opportunity to show Americans and the world that they were right on Iraq, the War on Terror, and all that both of those neo-con policy icons entail.

Chris Wallace was absent, so Brit Hume filled in as host/questioner. John Bolton was his first guest.

Immediate first impression: Ambassador Bolton is temperamentally unsuited to his position at the UN, and is the perfect voice for the Bush foreign policy.

Well, to be fair, they are all the perfect voices, all the "yes" persons - Condi survives because she is on the team; diplomacy in her hands is a terrifying joke.

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At a casual glance, Bolton could have seemed to be laid back; a closer look reveals a tightly wound arrogance, ready to explode at a moment's provocation, which would be any disagreement with him; he is helped in his presentation of himself as reasonable and even-tempered by the substitution of talking points for actual, reality-based arguments.

Hume led with Syria's stated willingness to sit down and talk about Lebanon with the US. A suppressed sneer hovering at the edge of his voice, Bolton repeated a talking point you will hear again and again: Syria doesn't need talks to know what it has to do.

Asked what Rice was attempting to achieve by this week's diplomatic missions, Bolton was clear; to avoid a premature cease-fire so that the administration, and its many allies in the world can focus on root causes, which boil down to one notion, terrorism, which means Hezbollah must be disarmed, and in addition, to provide support for Lebanese democracy, which is also endangered by Hezbollah, as it is not endangered by Israeli bombing.

Yes, you read that right. Our purpose through-out the last two weeks has been to strengthen Lebanon's nascent democracy.

Hume noted that the elected government of Lebanon doesn't seem to share that view of our actions.

Not to worry, they can't take the long view that the Bush administration is taking, but they'll see, at some point, this is all for the best.

Nato? Maybe, when we get to the point of thinking the situation is ready for a multi-national force to police a peace in Southern Lebanon. As to Hezbollah's announced willingness to have the central Lebanese government enter into negotiations with Israel for a prisoner exchange - Bolton allowed himself a fully realized, if small, sneer; nice that Hezbollah is finally recognizing who the real government of Lebanon is.

Unstated implication; our political opponents always underestimate what a little concentrated bombing can do for a society.

Asked how confident was Bolton that Israel can weaken Hizbollah for real, and not gain adherents or at least sympathizers among the very Arabs who never liked Hizbollah, Bolton's answer was - he is not about to second-guess the Israelis.

Cogitate over that for a moment.

What Bolton emphasized, this administration takes the long view - what will lead to a sustainable peace. Sounds good, doesn't it?

Hume came back to the question of how Lebanon's institutions can be strengthened by destruction of a good part of its civilian infrastructure. Bolton reiterated his talking points - we're helping them do what they can't do themselves, disarm Hezbollah; they'll be happy in the end. Any downsides? Nah.

Most interesting moment - when Bolton attempted to rewrite history, or perhaps I should say, simplify it by pointing to the 28 year history of an ineffective UN presence in Southern Lebanon as an example of what happens when you put off actually dealing with a problem. If any of you think that is a satisfactory factual statement of the history of what's gone on in southern Lebanon during the last 28 years, get thee to a computer and start goggling.

As to Bolton's nomination as UN ambassador reaching the floor of Senate for approval - Voinivitch's turnaround is an indication, according to Bolton, of how the perceptions of Bush foreign policy have changed dramatically in the President's favor, especially after this Lebanon thingee.

I'm going to skip over Dennis Hastart - he said almost nothing of interest, except that he is committed to passing repeal of the estate tax and expects to be able to do it, not that you didn’t know that.

The panel included Paul Gigot, taking Hume's place, who led the discussion.

Except for Juan Williams, who, week by week, looks increasingly sage, compared with the responses of the others, especially in regards Israel's excellent Lebanon adventure, all the others seemed to think that further eruptions of violence in the Middle East were just the ticket to achieve American goals there.

Hey, don't blame me; I report, you despair.

Gigot was particularly myopic - it was all those same arguments about strategic thinking and long-range goals, expressed in the most simple-minded paradigms, complexity being the enemy of action, that we heard, and continue to hear, in praise and defense of what we hath wrought in Iraq.

The horror of a premature cease-fire was emphasized; Kristol was clear; terrorism cannot be tolerated, terrorism being what someone else does, never what a nation-state does, at least one of which we approve, which would include ourselves, of course. By not tolerated, Kristol, explained further, what must be meant is the killing of those who run Hezbollah; they need to be dead.

Gigot and Kristol agreed; Israel has the right approach; we should follow their lead, and get out of their way. (And if you nose has that strange tingling sensation that comes with being led around by it, you are probably an anti-Semite.)

When Juan Williams tried to bring up possible unintended consequences, like further exacerbating the schism between those authoritarian, undemocratic Arab states, like Egypt, the Saudis, Jordan, and yes, Syria, and their own people, delivering said people into the arms of fundamentalist Islam, but he was treated like a half-wit who simply can't take the long view, the strategic view, in which those with sufficient vision can see a Pax Americana in the Middle East, if we just don't lose our nerve.

Those words weren't used of course; they never are; that is what they mean, though. As part of that Pax, Israel will never have to settle with the Palestinians, we will have troops stationed wherever we please, and Mid-East oil will be secured for our use.

BTW, that long view means that this neo-con point of view can never be tested against reality, because all disasters attributable to that long view are dismissed as insufficiently long - just wait, just don’t fall for a premature peace or cease-fire and someday, somehow, we will deliver.

That policy is a guarantee of a state of permanent war. Get used to it, or get busy doing what ever you can to deliver our beloved republic into other hands

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