The Immediate Political Implications Of The Conflict Between Israel and Lebanon For George Bush
National Security should always be put above politics, but that doesn’t mean national security decisions don’t have a political impact. Since that’s the case, let’s take a look at the implications of what’s going on between Israel and Lebanon for George Bush.
The first thing of note is that Israel is getting very strong support from the American people and both political parties right now. The American people have clearly picked a side here, and it’s with Israel. Furthermore, among conservatives, the support for Israel is particularly strong. So, whatever the international sentiment may be, in the US, supporting Israel is clearly the right move politically.
Moreover, this is a tremendous opportunity for George Bush. Hezbollah is a terrorist organization with international reach that has American blood on its hands. So, clearly they’re a group we want to see damaged and degraded. In addition, as we’ve seen in the past with Libya’s disarmament and Syria pulling out of Lebanon, George Bush does get credit for the good things that happen in the Middle-East. If this conflict ends with Hezbollah being severely weakened, George Bush will benefit. If some sort of permanent solution comes out of these attacks, which seems to be what the Bush Administration is shooting for, it’ll be nothing sort of miraculous given the intractable nature of the fight in the Middle-East. On the other hand, if this battle is perceived as a failure when it’s all said and done for some reason, as long as it’s Israel’s failure, not Bush’s failure, it shouldn’t hurt him.
Another thing Bush would also have to think long and hard about, before pulling Israel back, is the reaction from his own base. Many of the people on the right who are dissatisfied with what’s happening in Iraq and our foreign policy in general are unhappy because they don’t think Bush is being aggressive enough. Why aren’t we being tougher with militias and insurgents in Iraq? Why aren’t we being more belligerent with Syria and Iran? Why would we keep urging Israel to be restrained when they’re fighting terrorists? If Bush were to force Israel to accept an unpalatable ceasefire, then it would lead to a lot of grumbling from the base, which wants to see Hezbollah crippled or destroyed.
So, as we can see, national security and political concerns seem to match up well in this case and therefore, it makes sense for Bush to give Israel as long a leash as possible.