Juan Cole: Bush’s Open-Mike Comments Leave Me ‘Trembling’
Posted on Jul 17, 2006
The University of Michigan professor and Middle East expert is horrified at Bush’s belief (caught on an open mike) that Hezbollah is entirely to blame for the violence wracking Lebanon, and that Syria could easily stop Hezbollah if it chose to do so. “It is an astonishingly simple-minded view of the situation…. I come away from it shaken and trembling.”
It is an astonishingly simple-minded view of the situation, painted in black and white and making assumptions about who is who’s puppet and what the Israeli motivations are. Israel doesn’t appear as a protagonist. It is purely reactive. Stop provoking it, and it suddenly stops its war.
Since Israel is just being provoked and has no ambitions of its own, in this reading, it is useless to begin with a ceasefire. That treats the two sides as both provoking one another. Here, only Hizbullah matters, so you lean on Syria to lean on it, and, presto, peace breaks out.
It is a little window into the superficial, one-sided mind of the man, who has for six years been way out of his depth.
I come away from it shaken and trembling.