Old dogs, old tricks

George Bush still doesn’t get it (I know, I know, but let’s not be mean):

Q Thank you, sir. Israeli’s Justice Minister said that the lack of a call from the international community for an immediate cease-fire essentially gives Israel a green light to push harder. And the top general there says there will be more several more weeks of fighting. Is your administration okay with these things?

PRESIDENT BUSH: I believe this. I believe that, as Condi said yesterday, the Middle East is littered with agreements that just didn’t work. And now is the time to address the root cause of the problem. And the root cause of the problem is terrorist groups trying to stop the advance of democracies.

Tortured grammar aside, this is a lamentable misrepresentation of the real situation that serves to limit all options for action to military ones. I can’t believe that this is accidental, after all Bush’s modus operandi since the outset of his presidency has been a straightforward military approach to solving problems, and he appears quite ready to ride off into the sunset of his presidency with the same bag of tricks. For Bush, it’s all nails, everywhere.

The implicit assumption in this statement is that the terrorist groups sprang into existence out of thin air for no reason whatsoever, a 2006 version of “they hate us for our freedoms”. By ignoring, denying, or failing to look for and understanding the causal factors that produce terrorist organizations, we lose the ability to prevent their growth and dissemination in ways other than direct military confrontation. And how’s that working out so far?

If I read his response right, he is brushing aside the idea of an agreement with Hezbollah outright and would like to find a solution without them in the picture. Somehow that seems like he is just crossing his fingers and hoping like hell that the IDF will make Hezbollah go away, something that is looking less and less likely with every day.

Reading this report on his meeting with Tony Blair today, I don’t get a sense that any change in plan is in the offing:

Bush and Blair remained united against many other European and Arab nations, by resisting calls for an immediate, unconditional end to Israel’s campaign against Hezbollah militants that effectively control southern Lebanon.

What has to happen for this administration to understand that trying to stamp out terrorist organizations without dealing with their root causes is like trying to cure a sympton?


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