Just talked to someone very close to U.S. policy-making on the Mideast. I didn’t cull much new or different from what we’ve been hearing and reading. The sense is that the Lebanese government is happy to see Israel pound Hezbollah, but can’t say it out loud. How well Israel manages to do that is a matter of timing. Kofi Annan is going to be back to New York from Europe soon and turning up the tempature even higher on the calls for a cease-fire and an international force. The U.S. can resist them, but the clock is definitely ticking and there’s a sense that Israel needs to pick up the pace. This is its window, but it’s closing. Meanwhile, it sounds as though the timing on Condi’s trip is still officially up in the air, although there could be an annoucement soon–with perhaps Sunday as the day. Personally, I think its a huge mistake for her to go there until we definitely want Israel to stop (we went on at length about this in our editorial today ). Otherwise, she’s going to come back empty-handed and it will play as another Bush administration diplomatic set-back. And if we really want Israel to stop, we can just tell them–a phone call will suffice.