John: You have wonderfully made my point by cheering speeches and words instead of actions. There is a real opportunity now. The Lebanese–even, a couple of hours ago, thousands of Lebanese in Paris–are demonstrating against Hezbollah and Syria and Iran. The Saudis and the Egyptians have publicly criticized Hezbollah, and for the first time in human memory have not blindly condemned Israel.
They are taking a risk here, hoping that we will understand the gravity of the moment and the dimensions of the opportunity. The great opportunity, and indeed the just consequence of the attack against Israel, is to bring down Assad along with destroying Hezbollah. That must be the mission. There are many Syrians who are ready to act, but the first step toward the removal of Assad is for the president and the secretary of state to call for regime change in Syria.
The hard work on the ground belongs to the Israelis, and you are right to say we have done well to support them rhetorically. But we have to after Assad, and we have not done that. Perhaps this is due to my own ignorance; it may be going on behind the scenes (not movie scenes, the real ones). I hope so. But I don’t see it. I don’t see or hear our leaders condemning the Syrians and the Iranians, aside from the original White House statement (in direct conflict with the statement from the State Dept, let’s not forget) holding Syria and Iran responsible. Okay, so they’re responsible. And then?
There has to be a “then.” And it has to be aimed at the total destruction of Hizbollah and the downfall of the regime in Damascus.
Otherwise, it will all rewind. There will be no semblance of a strong, free, and independent Lebanon, and the next time around things will be much worse. You will see more and more Iranian missiles, in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as in Israel. It’s a war, not a debate.
On the many wonderful things that would likely follow the fall of Assad, I’ll try to get something for Monday’s NRO.