October 18, 2006

Wesley Clark: U.S. Support for Israel in War on Hezbollah a 'Serious Mistake'

An important post from Vital Perspective:

Thanks to an alert reader, we'd like to direct your attention to a speech that Retired U.S. Army Gen. Wesley Clark delivered at The University of Alabama on Friday. The former presidential candidate and current military analyst for Fox News had this to say about U.S. foreign policy and the Israeli war with Hezbollah:

There's a lot of demonstrations out there against the American government and its policies. We've made some serious, serious mistakes, the latest being - it's hard to pick the latest - but one of them, recently, was the one where we sided with the Israelis in that air campaign in Lebanon. And instead of stopping the bombing, we were cheerleading it. It hurt Israel, it hurt Lebanon, and it hurt us. It helped Iran.
This is some scary rhetoric that holds the possibility of serious implications for the U.S.-Israel relationship. We research his statements and found an August 1 interview where Clark said, "We don't believe in reckless bombing. We believe in humanitarian assistance. We believe in ending quarrels by the peaceful settlement of disputes and we believe in the use of war only as a last resort." The two statements square up pretty well, so this wasn't an instance where Clark somehow 'misspoke'.

We want to know if Clark acknowledges that Israel is a strategic ally, and if so, what would the implications have been for Israel and other allies had the U.S. had turned a blind eye to Iran's attack by proxy? Does he acknowledge the Lebanese government refuses to implement Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for the disarming of Hezbollah, and that had it been implemented there would never have been a war? Finally, does Clark find inconsistencies in his positions vis-à-vis previous arguments he made that Hezbollah must be disarmed, and his new position that the U.S. should have forced a ceasefire, bearing in mind that the Lebanese government refuses to disarm Hezbollah (and until recently, assert its sovereignty over the entire country)?

Israel remains our most reliable ally in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean. Allies such as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey all have a record of denying the U.S. military use of their facilities. Moreover, the stability of their regimes cannot be taken for granted as all of them grapple with modernization and are threatened to various degrees by Islamic extremists. Israel is one of the few countries in the world that does not see U.S. primacy in international affairs as a troubling phenomenon. Unlike much of the world, Israel isn't preoccupied with how to tame American power.

So here's a lesson in foreign policy and the war on terror for Clark... you don't leave a friend like that standing alone when they are fighting against a terror organization that has killed more Americans than any group other than al-Qaeda, and you recognize that Israel could have attacked the government of Lebanon, but chose to restrain itself to a limited campaign against the terrorists.