Criminal Negligence Toward Lebanon

Criminal negligence. That is the best face I can put on the Administration's current handling of Middle East policy.

I can point to the mess we've made in Iraq or the growing gap between the President's "vision of a two-state solution" and the depressing Palestinian reality, but the lack of any meaningful response by the Administration to Sunday's massacre in Qana, Lebanon is the most recent example of the mess they are leaving behind in the Middle East.

Instead of recognizing the enormity of the tragedy at Qana and the impact it would have on an already roiled Arab World, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expressed only regret, but no condemnation.

Instead of pushing harder for an immediate ceasefire, she canceled her mission and announced a return home. Meanwhile, Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns appeared on television to absolve Israel of blame, reaffirming "Israel's right to defend itself," while only lamely expressing concern over civilian casualties.

Foot-dragging on a ceasefire while Israeli bombardments continue and the Lebanese civilian death toll grows, in the face of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's promise to continue the war for another ten to fourteen days, is dangerous business. The Administration's behavior gives Israel the green light to proceed and sends the Arab World a clear message: that America supports this war.

I have warned from the beginning that no good would come from this war. Letting Hizbollah's and Israel's pathologies play out runs the danger of greater escalation and unintended consequences like the tragic example that just occurred in Qana. Not only do we run the risk of seeing Lebanon permanently fractured politically and economically, but we are sowing new seeds of hatred for the United States throughout the Arab World.

What are they thinking at the White House? Are they thinking?  And why are there not more voices being raised in opposition to their negligence? Where are the Democrats who seek to lead in 2008? Why have they not called for a ceasefire and negotiations leading to a resolution of this conflict before another Qana occurs?