- The Washington Times - Friday, August 11, 2006

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

La Repubblica

U.S. Mideast policy

ROME — It would take America to bring peace to the Middle East, but the America that makes peace no longer exists. It died on September 11, 2001.

The terrible paradox shown by this “mini war” between Israel and Hezbollah is that the United States has never been so present in the Middle East, and has never been so irrelevant when it comes to diplomacy and credibility.

Having theorized on the use of traditional weapons, tanks, bombardments and missiles to fight terrorism … the U.S. could hardly have rejected the reaction of the Israeli government to the threat of Hezbollah, infinitely more concrete and imminent than the imaginary threat of Saddam Hussein and his non-existent arsenal.

The sense of confusion, ambiguity and duplicity showed by Washington in its public initiatives is the exact translation of the political disorientation of this White House.

Egyptian Gazette

After the Lebanon war

CAIRO — Last month, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice saw the bloodbaths, caused by relentless Israeli attacks, as the birth pangs of a new Middle East. Her boss [President George W.] Bush later painted a rosy picture of the new Middle East where democracy will prevail.

Both have to brace themselves for a more unstable and antagonistic Middle East. Now in its fourth week, Israel’s U.S.-okayed war in Lebanon has shattered illusions that peace will ever nestle in this long-suffering region. The agonies spawned by Israeli aggression and international impotence over this bloody bullying are set to harden positions in the area. Over the past few weeks, more and more Arabs have taken the side of Hezbollah and sung praises of its chief Hassan Nasrallah.

A notion taking hold in the Arab world is that Hezbollah and Hamas in Palestine have been so bestially targeted for being symbols of Islam. The Bush administration’s unabashed and absurd advocacy of Israel’s right to defend itself by wreaking all this devastation on Lebanon has left many Arabs in no doubt that the Jewish state is launching a war by proxy for the U.S. …

The fallout is set to hit the outside world as well. Bin Ladenism will thrive on this radicalism and animosity.

Jerusalem Post

The Mideast conflict

… In a speech on August 1, [Israeli] Prime Minister Ehud Olmert started laying out his argument that Israel had already won, since the reality on the ground had changed: Hezbollah will no longer sit on the northern border; Israel has destroyed Hezbollah’s long-range missile capability; a strategic threat controlled by Iran has been removed, and Israel has demonstrated the strength of its citizenry and its unwillingness to be paralyzed by the threat of rockets.

The problem is that all this may be true, but largely irrelevant. Throughout Lebanon and the Muslim world, there is an expectation that if Hezbollah survives as an organization, it will become an even stronger force in Lebanon than it was before this war.

So long as Hassan Nasrallah is alive and has an organization to lead, his survival will make him a hero in the Arab world, and his path — that of seeking Israel’s destruction — will be seen to have been vindicated. This may be a bizarre way to look at things, through Western eyes, but perceptions and beliefs can create their own reality.

The sight of Israel being pounded daily by hundreds of rockets can be counted to hearten the jihadis, not those seeking a more moderate path for the Muslim world. By this logic, if a militia like Hezbollah can bloody Israel and survive, then the jihadis can claim that Israel is not invincible, and destroying Israel is a realistic goal.

This is an intolerable outcome for Israel. …

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