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Bush's profanity shows he has no clue about Arabs
I have carefully read and considered US President George W. Bush's words to British Prime Minister Tony Blair that were inadvertently caught on an open microphone during the G-8 Summit in Russia last weekend: "See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hizbullah to stop doing this shit and it's over" - and I respectfully conclude that Bush doesn't know shit about shit.
Bush's comment is worth analyzing because it is very telling of many things, all of them problematic for the United States and the Middle East region. In that single phrase of his, the American president compressed into two dozen words the cumulative negative consequences of Washington's unusual capacity to forge a self-defeating and counter-productive Middle East policy on the basis of a faulty analysis, in turn built on misreading local realities and not speaking to the main actors.
Almost every part of Bush's statement is either wrong or a consequence of bad foreign policy decisions by the US and Israel, who operate as a single entity for all practical purposes on the issue at hand. The first and most important problem with Bush's thoughts is to characterize Hizbullah's actions with a profanity. Many people, including myself, criticize Hizbullah for certain aspects of its policies. But history will no doubt record that its actions before this month to liberate South Lebanon from Israeli occupation have largely been supported by most Lebanese and Arabs, and have been seen as legitimate by most of the world.
The consensus in Israel, the US and parts of Lebanon and the Arab world is that Hizbullah recklessly triggered the Israeli rampage in Lebanon this month by kidnapping two Israeli soldiers, causing all the Lebanese to pay a very heavy price. This will be debated for a long time, and supporters of a more truthful picture of reality would argue that the kidnapping of the soldiers is only the latest move in a long-running war between Israel and Lebanon, not a sudden unilateral action.
However, a more compelling question is being asked now: Why do the US, Europe and much of the Arab world allow Lebanon to be pulverized by Israeli bombs when most of those same people in the West last year held Lebanon up as a beacon of democratic change; a model for other Arabs?
We now have two Arab countries that Bush has trumpeted as models and vanguards of America's policy of promoting freedom and democratic change: Iraq and Lebanon. Neither is a very comforting sight today. Not many Arabs will sign up for Bush's democracy and freedom plan if this is what they will expect to happen to their countries.
The real irony in the global political defecation business that Bush should ponder is that American planes, bombs and tanks were directly (in Iraq) or indirectly (through Israel in Lebanon) responsible for bringing Iraq and Lebanon to their current state of turmoil, destruction and pain.