BLOCK THAT METAPHOR! Recently, at something called the Aspen Ideas Festival -- and how did Plato and the rest of them manage without having an Ideas Fest, I ask you -- Bill Clinton said the following concerning the situation in Iraq: "Once you break the eggs, you have a responsibility to make an omelet."
OUR FARCICALLY DISAPPOINTING PRESS CROPS. If I were crafting a parody of the political media's decline, I could hardly construct a better set piece than today's reportage. A live mic at the G8 Summit caught Tony Blair and George Bush talking privately about the conflict in Lebanon. Given the relative opacity of Bush's thoughts on the situation, the frank discussion offered a fair amount of insight and a couple nuggets of news, including that he was going to send Condi to the region (or possibly the U.N.
EQUALLY -- YES! I was really hoping that my claim that Israel's targeting of Lebanon's civilian infrastructure and Hezbollah's use of indiscriminate rocket attacks on Israeli cities were "equally indefensible" would bring forth an outraged condemnation of my "moral equivalence." It seems I'll have to settle for Jon Chaitsaying he doesn't "see how [I] could morally equate the actions of the two sides."
GORE WATCH: ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY EDITION. There are, I hasten to acknowledge, much more important things going on in the world at the moment, but nevertheless this passage from EW's cover story on Al Gore includes a softer Gore line on the "running for prez" question than I've seen before from the man:
ISRAEL IS NOT INDIA. I would join with Jonah Goldberg's criticism of today's Sebastian Mallaby column. That India has shown impressive restraint in responding to its rival Pakistan doesn't necessarily offer a template or commentary on the Israel-Hezbollah situation. Israel's calculus in attacking a non-nuclear, largely diffuse enemy that's incapable of matching their military strength is rather different than India's decision to refrain from courting nuclear war against a large state. That's not to say Israel's actions are right or wrong, but it's a specific situation with its own history and context that deserves to be analyzed as such.
The president's favorites don't have to be conservatives. Blair dislikes American economic policy. Merkel has urged that Guant�namo prison be closed. Rasmussen has worried aloud about abuse at Abu Ghraib prison and possible murders at Haditha in Iraq. But, an aide says, "the president is looking for people who see the world as he sees it." That means, at a minimum, they support his post-invasion policy in Iraq and regard the spread of democracy as important.
CASH, INFLUENCE, AND CONTROL. I don't have any special insight into the interrelationships between Syria and Iran on the one hand and Hamas and Hezbollah on the other, but I think it's worth saying that this notion out here that Syria and Iran actually control the latter two groups seems to lack a serious evidentiary basis. Undeniably, the two states give money and weapons to the two non-state actors. And, clearly, this affords Damascus and Teheran some degree of influence over Hamas and Hezbollah. But one needs to put this sort of relationship in perspective. The U.S. government gives money to Egypt, which gives us some influence over the government in Cairo. But we don't control Egypt in the sense of micromanaging Egyptian policy decisions.
THE OTHER MIDDLE EAST MESS. In case Israel's attempts to level Lebanon had temporarily lifted your depression on all issues Iraqi-related, The New York Timesreports that Sunni calls for American withdrawal have quieted as fears of mass slaughter at the hands of rampaging Shiites have deepened.