ISRAEL AND THE U.N. The Times reports that "A top Israeli general said today that Israel�s offensive in Lebanon would last another few weeks, and he said that the use of large numbers of ground forces had not been ruled out." That would be unfortunate. And based on the past track record of Israeli interventions in Lebanon, it seems very unlikely that weeks or months of anti-Hezbollah actions are going to provide a permanent solution to Israel's problem on the northern border. It would be much better for them to take up European proposals to send a large, well-trained U.N. force with the authority and equipment necessary to disarm Hezbollah in exchange for a cessation of Israeli attacks.

I've seen the argument made that Israel should dismiss this proposal because, after all, there was already a U.N. force in South Lebanon and it didn't succeed in disarming Hezbollah or stopping border violations. That argument, if meant seriously, is really rather silly. That a very small U.N. force that wasn't given the mission of disarming Hezbollah and that therefore didn't have the necessary personnel or weapons to disarm Hezbollah failed to disarm Hezbollah is no reason to believe that a different mission that did have that mandate would fail.

Now, due to yesterday's microphone mishap, we know that George W. Bush doesn't seem to like this plan very much. His preference would be "to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it�s over." But does he have a plan to do that? After all, the Syrian government isn't actually in the business of helping Israel or the United States out of sticky situations. Does Bush have something he's prepared to offer Syria in exchange for their cooperation? Does Bush really see a wider regional war as the means by which Syria is coerced into cooperating? There's no sense sitting around doing nothing and whining that, shockingly, Bashar Assad doesn't want to help the White House out for no reason.

--Matthew Yglesias

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