Earlier today I raised questions about James Baker’s alleged plans, and compared those plans to the miserable Munich Agreement of 1938.
As Beirut continues to repeat really crappy history tonight, things continue to get frightening for us infidels. If Hugh Hewitt’s alarmed, you bet your behind I am too. Take a look at some of this conversation from today, between Victor Davis Hanson (military historian and professor) and Hugh:
HH: I thought we might have a month away from the bad news, but as Beirut descends into crisis tonight, it appears as though the bad guys sense an opening.
VDH: Yeah, they do, and I think this should be a wake up call for everybody in the United States who wants to bring in the 1990′s realist team, that anybody who thinks that they can have some sort of reconciliation with Syria and Iran are missing the entire problem in the Middle East. The problem is those two countries, and those two governments.
HH: Victor Davis Hanson, if you had a chance to visit with the President tonight, what would you be telling him?
VDH: Don’t give up. Don’t weaken. Don’t hesitate. Don’t pause. Do not cut a deal with those two governments. They’re killing American soldiers through surrogates in Iraq. They’re trying to destablize Lebanon like they did in the 1980′s. They’re the source of most of the evil that’s now causing us problems from Afghanistan to Iraq. And this idea that you’re going to bring James Baker back, and that team back who gave us everything from Iran-Contra to jobs, jobs, jobs as the only reason we’re going to go into the Middle East, to flank the Jews. I could go on, but it’s a very sensitive point with me. I think a lot of us, Hugh, stood by this administration through thick and thin when the paleocons turned on them, when the liberal hawks turned on them, when the neocons are starting to bail. But my God, if you’re going to go into the Middle East, and put 130,000 Americans in harm’s way, fighting for democracy, and then you turn around and you appease those two governments who are killing people, I don’t think a lot of us are going to stand for that.
HH: Is this an Archduke Ferdinand moment with the assassination of Gemayel?
VDH: I think it may be. I really do. I think that Syria realizes that as soon as they saw that the United States was going to cease pressure on them, it was time to go in and start killing non-Shia politicians, reporters especially. They’ve killed journalists, they’ve killed T.V…it’s not just this Gemayel. It’s not just a Christian politician. They’ve been doing this for two years, killing, systematically, any critics. And they sense that they get a green light from us when we pull back. And I think it should be a wake up call for the United States, that when you go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, you don’t go to war in a half measure. You either go to war or you don’t go to war. And we’re in a war in Iraq, and we’re in war with, as the President said, Islamic-facism, and autocracy and dictatorship, and there’s no better examples than Iran and Syria.
HH: Victor Davis Hanson, earlier, talking with Claudia Rosett, I said, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you go to war with the Congress you have, and now we’ve got a left-leaning Congress coming in. Does the President have the ability to wage aggressive war with a pacifist Congress?
VDH: I think he does, but let’s be candid, Hugh. The problem right now isn’t…it may be the left wing Congress, but he’s got another problem, and that is he’s bringing in Robert Gates, and he’s bringing in the Baker realism, and that doesn’t have a good record. That’s the people who said don’t talk to Yeltsin. Let’s stick with Gorbacev. Let’s not go to Baghdad. Let the Shia and Kurds die. Let’s arm the Islamisists to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan and then leave. It’s not a good record. It’s short-term expediency at the expense of long-term morality. And it’s not in the interest of the United States to do that, to cut a deal with these countries.
HH: Now tell me something. If you and I see this as we do the same way, and almost inevitably, it’s a very clear picture what’s going on here. How could “realists” persuade themselves, Victor Davis Hanson? And I haven’t seen Baker do this yet, so I’ll withhold judgment. I haven’t seen Gates do it yet, so I’ll withhold judgment. But how could any realist step up and say the thing to do is to negotiate with the Syrians? That’s madness.
VDH: I don’t know. I think they think that these two countries, it’s almost a prima facia admission that these two countries are backing, in various ways, the Shia and Sunni insurgents in Iraq, and then maybe we can cut a deal, and let them have some leeway at the expense of what? Another democracy in Lebanon? So they won’t topple our democracy in Iraq? You can’t do that. It’d be like asking the Soviet Union to allow a democratic Ukraine, or Hitler to allow Czechloslovakia to have elections. That’s not what those countries do. They exist to destroy democracies, and I don’t understand it. But I do think if they appease these two countries, they’re going to lose a lot of support of people like ourselves, who’ve been with them thick and thin, when everybody else has bailed.
HH: Now what about the calculus in Israel tonight, Victor Davis Hanson? They clearly miscalculated about Hezbollah. Hezbollah has not been wounded or weakened. Or if it was, it has responded by going aggressively internally to expand its power base in Lebanon. How ought Israel be reacting to this attempted coups?
VDH: Yeah, I think Israel’s learned that when Syria and Iran supply Hezbollah with the methods to attack Israel, that you don’t go back and fight in the suburbs and get on CNN and be shown to be inept. What you do is you give the Syrian government a list of targets. And you say to Hezbollah okay, the next time you send in a missile, or you go across a border, we’re taking out the Damascas power station. That’s all. We’re not going to get on the ground. We’re going to take it off. And the next time you do it, we’re going to take out an airfield. And you give the Syrians about fifty targets, and just say it’s up to you how much you want to escalate this process. But I would not get involved with Hezbollah in Lebanon. I’d go right to the source of it in Syria.
HH: Now Michael Totten, a very fine writer who spent a lot of time in Lebanon, has pointed out that what is underway here is an attempt to make the government fall, because if you kill three cabinet members, they lack, under the constitution, they must collapse, and seek a new government. And there was a second assassination attempt today. This is clearly an attempt to have a coups, Victor Davis Hanson.
VDH: Yeah, it is. To subvert a democracy by killing the principal players, and then creating a climate of fear that no one will step forward. But it’s exactly what we’ve seen in Iraq the last three years.
HH: It’s what Hitler did.
VDH: It is exactly the same. And remember that what we’re seeing in Iraq today are Shia, with Iranian backing, killing Sunnis, and Sunnis, with Syrian backing, killing Shia. And both of these countries work hand in glove to destabilize, at their own benefit, what we’re trying to do in Iraq. And so we crossed…I mean, we crossed the rubicon a long time ago. We went to war in Iraq, and we’re there. Now we either give up and get out and appease these people, or we finish the job. And one of the ways you finish the job is you don’t have any, any, any dealings whatsoever with Syria. And anybody can read The Missing Piece by Dennis Ross, and remember that in the Clinton administration, they sent Warren Christopher to sit on that tarmac for six hours, to wait for Mr. Assad to talk to him. I don’t think we want to go back to that.
Its madness. And its not going to stop without someone stopping it. It won’t stop because we are tired of fighting, it won’t stop because some people hate Bush. It won’t. Ever. Stop.
Read the entire transcript here. You can also read Victor Davis Hanson’s piece on this topic here, and the rest of his work here.