They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

US hawks smell blood

By Jim Lobe

Seeing a major opportunity to regain influence lost as a result of setbacks in Iraq, prominent neo-conservatives are calling for unconditional US support for Israel's military offensives in Gaza and Lebanon and "regime change" in Syria and Iran, as well as possible US attacks on Tehran's nuclear facilities in retaliation for its support of Hezbollah.

In a Weekly Standard column titled "Our war", editor William Kristol called Iran "the prime mover behind the terrorist groups who have started this war", which, he argued, should be considered part of "the global struggle against radical Islamism".

He complained that Washington recently had done a "poor job of standing up and weakening Syria and Iran" and called on

President George W Bush to fly directly from the "silly [Group of Eight] summit in St Petersburg ... to Jerusalem, the capital of a nation that stands with us, and is willing to fight with us, against our common enemies".

"This is our war, too," said Kristol, who was also a founder and co-chairman of the recently lapsed Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

Echoed Larry Kudlow, a neo-conservative commentator, at the Standard's right-wing competitor, the National Review: "All of us in the free world owe Israel an enormous thank-you for defending freedom, democracy and security against the Iranian cat's-paw wholly owned terrorist subsidiaries Hezbollah and Hamas.

"They are defending their own homeland and very existence, but they are also defending America's homeland as our frontline democratic ally in the Middle East," according to Kudlow, who, like Kristol and other like-minded polemicists, also named Syria, "which is also directed by Iran", as a promising target as the conflict expands.

The two columns are just the latest examples of a slew of commentaries that have appeared in US print and broadcast media since Israel began bombing targets in Lebanon in retaliation for Hezbollah's fatal cross-border attack last Wednesday.

They appear to be part of a deliberate campaign by neo-conservatives and some of their right-wing supporters to depict the current conflict as part of global struggle pitting Israel, as the forward base of Western civilization, against Islamist extremism organized and directed by Iran and its junior partner, Syria.

This view was perhaps most dramatically expressed by the former Republican Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, in an appearance on the National Broadcasting Co's Meet the Press on Sunday when he described the conflict as "the early stages of ... the Third World War". Read more