So, after the meeting in Rome and the lack of a clear message from several world leaders (thanks to Rice thwarting such efforts), Isreal's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared that the lack of a message out of the meeting in Rome was a signal that his country was authorized to keep bombing southern Lebanon to smitherings.
Now, hold on a minute.
The U.S. was the only country quibbling over the terminology of "immediate" in the phrase "cease fire." The rest of the leaders, especially the European leaders, were crystal clear in their opposition to the continued airstrikes and ground war by Israel as well as Hezbollah's launching of rockets into Israel.
Fortunately, the European Union leaders have continued to put pressure on Isreal and on the United States to reject a long-term war. Indeed, after Prime Minister Blair met with Bush yesterday it seems that Bush is changing his message somewhat on the Israel/Hezbollah war and seems to now be pushing for a shorter time period before international peacekeepers would move into the region. Until then, Isreal can continue to pound sounthern Lebanon with abandon, but once the peacekeepers enter that can no longer happen. Israel will be effectively reigned in from their current unabandoned bombing spree.
Now, I should be clear and say that Hezbollah needs to be disarmed. They have basically held Lebanon hostage, bringing death and destruction to thousands of Lebanese citizens who have no interest in this war. The U.S. needs to help Lebanon strengthen its military and its government. One of the reasons Hezbollah continues to exist and to receive tepid suppport from Lebanese citizens is because Hezbollah runs hospitals, grocery stores, and cares for the poor. The Lebanese government must step in and offer better services to its citizens, removing the incentive for support of Hezbollah.
I fear, though, that the overwhelming force Isreal has used on Lebanon against Hezbollah and by extension the Lebanese citizens will turn Arab sentiment further against Israel and create renewed sympathy for Hezbollah. Indeed, reports from CNN suggest that is the case.
It's hard to get people to join your cause if they think you're evil.