Monday, July 17, 2006

The Continuing Idiocy of Juan Williams

Juan Williams, NPR staffer and panel member on Fox News Sunday was at it again yesterday. I was unsure after watching it what exactly offended me more: the veiled "warmonger" accusations or the utterly inane dead-end position he argued.

Getting up to speed, the first panel segment was a discussion about--what else--the Middle East crisis currently stewing in Lebanon. Host Chris Wallace began with the following:

Well, for the second straight week, Bill Kristol, you have lobbed a Katyusha rocket onto the Bush White House from the pages of The Weekly Standard, as I mentioned in my discussion with Secretary of State Rice.

You say that American weakness has emboldened Iran and Syria, and then you went on to say this, and let's put it up, "Perhaps President Bush can fly from the silly G-8 summit in St. Petersburg, a summit that will most likely convey a message of moral confusion and political indecision, to Jerusalem, the capital of a nation that stands with us."

So, Mr. Kristol, what should our policy be?

BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDARD: He has my permission to finish the G-8 summit. He doesn't have to fly to Jerusalem or come back here early, though I don't think the G-8 summit will accomplish much. Our policy should be to stand with Israel. They are fighting our enemies.

What did the president say a few years ago? States like these, like Iran and Syria, and their terrorist allies like Hezbollah and Hamas constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world.

He was right four years ago. He's right today. Israel withdrew from these territories. There was no territorial dispute with Lebanon or, any more, with the Gaza strip. These terrorist groups, backed by Iran especially, and also by Syria, attacked across a border. And we need to support Israel in dealing with Hamas and especially with Hezbollah.

From the get go, Williams is unwilling to suffer a meaningful discussion about the role of military force in Israel's dealings with it's neighbors and their terrorist 'allies': I think that's exactly right. And I think it's regrettable. I think that the emphasis on military action is one that feeds into Islamic extremism.

It feeds into terrorist elements not only in Lebanon in terms of Hezbollah, but you know, you have to see this in terms of U.S. policy as impacting our relationships with Iran and the negotiations over their nuclear weapons...

WALLACE: Well, wait a minute. So what would you have Israel do when the Hezbollah comes across their sovereign border, attacks and kills Israeli soldiers and kidnaps a couple of them?

WILLIAMS: You know, to me, this is a conversation in a bubble, Chris. I mean, it's totally alien from the reality of Israel as a terrifically superior military power in that region. There's no question that Israel could win the conflict.

The question is long-term prospects. Are you going to always have Israel at war? Are you going to therefore put the U.S. in a position, given that we're already in Iraq and we are on sort of shaky ground with Iran -- are you going to put us in a position where we have to come in to support Israel with additional military power? Is that the only solution that some people see in the world?

Read it for yourself, but Fred Barnes and William's NPR colleague Mara Liasson follow with a fairly concise summary of the last several years vis-a-vis Israel and it's moves out of Gaza and Lebanon. And then it comes:

WILLIAMS: Well, it just seems to me that you want, you know -- to go back to the General Kristol analogy, you just want war, war, war, and you want us in more war. You wanted us in Iraq. Now you wanted us in Iran. Now you want us to get into the Middle East where -- I mean, I think there's a real interesting dynamic at play.

I think it's psychological on the part of Israel and many of its supporters, and I'll throw you in here. Somehow you see Israel as weak and you see Ehud Olmert as weak. And they see the person...

So somehow it's personal? General Kristol and his minions just love war for war's sake? We just want war for the hell of it?

On to the next ridiculous point:

WALLACE: He's the new prime minister.

WILLIAMS: The new prime minister of Israel -- and the defense minister as weak. Everybody is weak in the aftermath of Sharon, and so everybody has to prove what a man they are in the Middle East, including -- you're saying why doesn't the United States take this hard, unforgiving line.

Well, the hard and unforgiving line has been we don't talk to anybody, we don't talk to Hamas, we don't talk to Hezbollah, we're not going to talk to Iran. Where has it gotten us, Bill?

LIASSON: But Hezbollah and Hamas are not asking for talks.

WILLIAMS: Well, somebody should have -- in other words, my sense is - - and this is in response to what you said earlier, Mara. I think that we should have been encouraging -- and we were trying to encourage Hezbollah to become part of a mainstream political movement in the government of Lebanon.

There you have it. Over six years since the PLO declined Barak's 'land for peace' offers (at the behest of, well...pretty much everybody) and launched the intifada, a year after the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and six years since abandoning the security zone in southern Lebanon with nothing to show for it but continued rocket launches into it's cities, Israel should fore-go military responses to outright acts of war and 'talk' to Hizbollah and Hamas.

"Well, somebody should have,..." we just don't know who or what exactly the deal ought to have been, as two of Juan's colleagues point out, Hizbollah isn't and wasn't interested in talking and there are no demands for land or other consideration. So what deal will save Isreal now, Juan?

He knows there's one out there, but he apparently has no clue what it actually is.

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