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The heaviest military engagement in the Middle East since the 2006 proxy war in Lebanon is now being fought in and around Gaza. This operation has been very carefully planned and was timed to occur at a point when public attention in Europe and the United States is minimized because of holiday celebrations. Indeed, President Bush is unwilling to break from his vacation on account of the lethal events–a step which would only focus unwanted public attention on his administration and its relationship to these developments. So I wish to speculate: to what extent is the Bush Administration, rather than the administration of Ehud Olmert, the author of these plans?
Consider that the Bush Administration was deeply embarrassed by Hamas’s successes in Gaza. Recall that they were enabled by the blind faith that the Bush team reposed in democratic process to cure the woes of the Middle East. Hamas took the opening that the Bush team provided and waltzed to power. And as David Rose documented in a solid piece in Vanity Fair, Condoleezza Rice sought to make up for her own miscalculations by arming opposing factions in Gaza, setting the stage for bloodshed that cost hundreds of lives.
Hamas’s position in Gaza has been viewed as one of the more severe blemishes on Rice’s foreign policy record, and she and White House Middle East policy manager Elliott Abrams have reportedly been eager to accomplish changes before leaving office. With only three weeks remaining, there’s little time left. And the Israeli tactics employed in Gaza look suspiciously like an Elliott Abrams plan, complete with a test-run for the latest U.S. bunker-busting weaponry, deployed to “take out” those tunnels that Hamas has reportedly burrowed. Internal Israeli assessments of the failed 2006 proxy war against Hezbollah in Lebanon also suggested that the war had been planned and pushed through by the Bush Administration, with Elliott Abrams in the key planning position, over the opposition of senior Israeli military planners.
Are we witnessing a repeat of administration manipulations in Bush’s last days in office? And could the true purpose of this whole exercise be to hamstring the incoming Obama administration as it moves to implement a new Middle East policy?
On today’s MSNBC Morning Joe, Zbigniew Brzezinski is asking the same question
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”