Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have a lot in common. They're both stuck in wars that have no favorable military solution and a common ally--the United States--that's doing them more harm than good. Add U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to the mix and you have a recipe for oblivion a la boy king.
The Apocalypse of the Stooges
Olmert's conduct of the Israeli-Hezbollah has put his country in a strategic cul-de-sac from which it has no good exit route. On one hand, Israel is under considerable heat from the international community for having inflicted considerable damage on Lebanon's civilian infrastructure and creating roughly a million Lebanese refugees. On the other hand, Olmert is under fire at home for mismanaging the war so badly that Israel may actually "lose" it militarily, an outcome that would be a literal death knell for the independent Jewish state.
At this point, a near term cease-fire leading to a lasting peace is not in the cards. The Hezbollah influenced Lebanese parliament will not accept any third-party brokered truce that favors Israel. And if Israel agrees to a truce that doesn't favor it, it will be perceived as having been bailed out of a military defeat by its American nanny.
Israel appears to have kicked off its "expanded" ground offensive into southern Lebanon, and having started down that path, there's no turning back. Anything less than complete eradication of the Hezbollah militia will be read as a resounding drubbing of the Israeli Defense Force. If the IDF takes too long or absorbs too many casualties in achieving that objective, the strategic impact will be almost as bad. And no matter how long or how many own force casualties it takes to wipe out Hezbollah forces, the IDF will wreak an inestimable amount of collateral damage to the Lebanese civilian infrastructure and population, which will create even worse strategic blowback.
As tough as things may be for Olmert right now, they're even tougher for Iraq's al Malaki. For all of Olmert's woes, he doesn't have an internal insurgency/civil war/apocalyptic pie fight on his hands (not yet anyway). He's got more cats loose from the corral than 130,000 American cowboys could round up in a decade. He needs U.S. troops to fight his insurgents because his own Iraqi forces don't want to fight other Iraqis, yet the longer he keeps U.S. forces around, the more he motivates his insurgents, and the less his Iraqi forces want to fight them.
Publicly, he has to slap the hand that feeds him when American troops do something the Iraqi people don't like. Foreign policy wise, he has to make nice with his neighbor Iran, and he has to make coo noise with the Arab League by making boo noise about America's support of the Israelis because Iraq's Ayatollah Ali Sistani has issued a fatwah to that effect.
Poor Maliki has a tall order to fill. In order to pull off the miracle needed to establish a unified, stable Iraq, he needs to fabricate himself into a "father of his country." It appeared briefly, when he unveiled his 24-point reconciliation plan, that he may well have pulled an 800 pound rabbit out of his hat. But the subsequent chaos in Iraq has left Maliki looking more like Humpty Dumpty than George Washington.
Cotton Candy Condi
Condoleezza Rice's hapless attempts at diplomacy over Lebanon and Iran have made her a worldwide knock-knock joke.
"None for us, thanks. We already have all the abysmal failures we need."
Every time Condi steps one of her Italian pumps into a situation, she comes up with negotiating conditions that any freshman political science major could predict would be unacceptable to most parties in the equation. It may be that this former Stanford professor of international affairs is an overeducated doofus with a penchant for expensive shoes and bad hairdos. But it may also be that the core neoconservative cabal has set her up to be the foreign policy fall girl, the one they can point their fingers at when they say, "See? We tried diplomacy and it didn't work."
It's an open secret that the real driver of U.S. foreign policy is Dick Cheney, and his open disdain for diplomacy is no secret at all. In the book of the man who had "better things to do" than fight in his countries war when he was chronologically eligible for military service, any approach to foreign relationships short of armed belligerence is sissified. And despite Condi's much publicized "office wife" relationship with young Mister Bush, Cheney is both the Machiavelli and Zvengali of the Bush II administration, the chief courtier who owns both ears of the monarch.
Between Cheney and his neo-cronies--the likes of Bill Kristol, Richard Perle, and John Bolton--Condi's getting simultaneously knee-capped, chop blocked, bent over the kitchen table and shot in the face. It's little wonder she has a thousand-yard stare every time she appears on television. She probably feels she's being gang-banged like an actress in a low budget porn video, but she has to pretend like she's the one who's running the show.
And I sense that Olmert and Maliki feel like stooges bent over the table as well.
Cheney's Amazing Timing
Yesterday, responding to Joe Lieberman's loss in the Connecticut Democratic primary, Dick Cheney said the victory of anti-war candidate Ned Lamont will encourage al Qaeda and other enemies of America. "The thing that's partly disturbing about it is the fact that, [from] the standpoint of our adversaries, if you will, in this conflict, and the Al Qaeda types, they clearly are betting on the proposition that ultimately they can break the will of the American people," Cheney said.
White House press secretary Tony Snow Tony Snow, talking yesterday about Lamont's win, invoked the phrase "a white flag in the war on terror."
Then lo and behold, we wake up this morning to find our country has gone to security alert Code Red in response to a terrorist plot discovered in Britain.
Talk about transparency.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at ePluribus Media and Pen and Sword.