The Corner

What the bush administration is thinking

Here’s what I’m told:

–They’re confident the resolution will pass.

–They say that all their red-lines were met: no return to the status quo; Israeli security situation is improved; Lebanese government is strengthened. They say they are quite pleased with the resolution.

–The resolution clearly puts the blame for the war on Hezbollah. Some other drafts didn’t.

–It calls for a cessation of hostilities, which is not the same as a ceasefire. It means Hezbollah is to stop rocketing Israel, and Israel will stop its offensive operations. But Israel can maintain its forces in Lebanon.

–A very robust international force will move in as the Israelis withdraw. French efforts to have Israel withdraw first, creating a vacuum that could be filled by Hezbollah, have been beaten back. Israel will withdraw in parallel with the deployment of the international force.

–From Israel’s perspective, it gets its major goal of ousting Hezbollah from the south from this resolution, if the international force works.

–Over the last four weeks Israel has managed to do serious damage to Hezbollah, and has re-established its deterrence.

–Israel has always wanted the Lebanese army in the South, and that will happen with this resolution too.

–Israel supports this resolution, although there has been a lively debate over it. It gets them what they want.

–Israel never told the administration not to get a resolution so it could proceed with its offensive. Israel wanted a resolution, so long as it meet its standards.

–The ballyhooed Israeli ground offensive helped the administration get a better resolution. And if the process had fallen apart today, Israel was in position to follow through with its offensive.

–The resolution describes the international force in outline. It will still be called UNIFIL, but will be different from UNIFIL, more robust. The resolution describes the mandate and size of the force. The force will be up to 15,000. The rules of engagement will be robust.

–There won’t be a full ceasefire and Israeli withdrawal until the international force is deployed, creating an incentive for it actually to happen and happen quickly.

–There is an issue with the time difference in Beijing with the Chinese delegation getting its instructions, but the resolution should pass tonight.

This is all from one source, so take it with a grain of salt and none of the characterizations here represent my views, but the views of the source.

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