ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Artificial Timeline?

Now, this article in The Guardian points to an artificial timeline being imposed by the US:

United States to Israel: you have one more week to blast Hizbullah
Bush 'gave green light' for limited attack, say Israeli and UK sources

Ewen MacAskill, Simon Tisdall and Patrick Wintour
Wednesday July 19, 2006
The Guardian

The US is giving Israel a window of a week to inflict maximum damage on Hizbullah before weighing in behind international calls for a ceasefire in Lebanon, according to British, European and Israeli sources.

The Bush administration, backed by Britain, has blocked efforts for an immediate halt to the fighting initiated at the UN security council, the G8 summit in St Petersburg and the European foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels.

"It's clear the Americans have given the Israelis the green light. They [the Israeli attacks] will be allowed to go on longer, perhaps for another week," a senior European official said yesterday. Diplomatic sources said there was a clear time limit, partly dictated by fears that a prolonged conflict could spin out of control.

US strategy in allowing Israel this freedom for a limited period has several objectives, one of which is delivering a slap to Iran and Syria, who Washington claims are directing Hizbullah and Hamas militants from behind the scenes.

George Bush last night said that he suspected Syria was trying to reassert its influence in Lebanon. Speaking in Washington, he said: "It's in our interest for Syria to stay out of Lebanon and for this government in Lebanon to succeed and survive. The root cause of the problem is Hizbullah and that problem needs to be addressed."

Tony Blair yesterday swung behind the US position that Israel need not end the bombing until Hizbullah hands over captured prisoners and ends its rocket attacks. During a Commons statement, he resisted backbench demands that he call for a ceasefire.

Echoing the US position, he told MPs: "Of course we all want violence to stop and stop immediately, but we recognise the only realistic way to achieve such a ceasefire is to address the underlying reasons why this violence has broken out."

He also indicated it might take many months to agree the terms of a UN stabilisation force on the Lebanese border.

After Mr Blair spoke, British officials privately acknowledged the US had given Israel a green light to continue bombing Lebanon until it believes Hizbullah's infrastructure has been destroyed.

Washington's hands-off approach was underlined yesterday when it was confirmed that Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, is delaying a visit to the region until she has met a special UN team. She is expected in the region on Friday, according to Dan Gillerman, Israel's ambassador to the UN.

The US is publicly denying any role in setting a timeframe for Israeli strikes. When asked whether the US was holding back diplomatically, Tony Snow, the White House's press spokesman, said yesterday: "No, no; the insinuation there is that there is active military planning, collaboration or collusion, between the United States and Israel - and there isn't ... the US has been in the lead of the diplomatic efforts, issuing repeated calls for restrain,t but at the same time putting together an international consensus. You've got to remember who was responsible for this: Hizbullah ... It would be misleading to say the United States hasn't been engaged. We've been deeply engaged."

Of course, this is all just wild speculation that the US has given a green light for Israel to destroy as much of Hizbollah in a week. This isn't from an open communication, back channel, or even a side channel for that matter. But, since it's speculation by Israeli and European officials, it's put as the headline. A better headline would be, "US Says Hizbollah Must Disarm before US will back cease-fire" or "US, Britain call tell Israel to destroy Hizbollah threats."

At the end of the day, Israel will continue to attack Hizbollah positions until they are satisfied that their military capabilities in terms of rockets have been eliminated. Then, the UN will have to enter the southern zone of Lebanon, disarm Hizbollah, and hope that the Lebanese government are strong enough to keep Syria out of its internal affairs.

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler