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Last Friday I blogged about the criticism the administration had been receiving from conservatives over their ‘Israel needs to show restraint’ comments various members of the admin either outright made or implied last week in response to the attacks on Hezbollah in Lebanon.
I think he and his admin have been clear as to whose side they are on in this conflict while at the same time doing their best not to look like they are spokespeople for Israel (considering the G8 leaders the President has been in the company of the last few days and how they feel about Israel), but the President this past weekend, in an unguarded moment, expressed exactly where he stands on the issue:
It wasn’t meant to be overheard. Private luncheon conversations among world leaders, picked up by a microphone, provided a rare window into both banter and substance _ including President Bush cursing Hezbollah’s attacks against Israel.
Bush expressed his frustration with the United Nations and his disgust with the militant Islamic group and its backers in Syria as he talked to British Prime Minister Tony Blair during the closing lunch at the Group of Eight summit.
“See the irony is that what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s— and it’s over,” Bush told Blair as he chewed on a buttered roll.
He told Blair he felt like telling U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who visited the gathered leaders, to get on the phone with Syrian President Bashar Assad to “make something happen.” He suggested Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice might visit the region soon.
I wrote the following last week:
I know the administration is taking some significant heat for its â€˜Israel should exercise restraint’ comments but, while I understand the sentiment behind the criticisms of those comments, I believe the administration has felt it had to walk a fine line with what it says publicly regarding the conflict – the President is in Europe this week, and he’s up against countries who are not fond of Israel, and I think he wants to avoid looking like a spokesman for Israel (he’s not, but that’s what they think in Europe). But make no mistake: the United States, under this administration, is unwavering in its support for Israel. They’ve shown it via the UN everytime the talking heads in the UN come up with some bogus anti-Israel resolution (is John Bolton great, or what?), and I would bet money that behind the scenes the US has been in communications with Israel to assure them that we’ve got their back in this conflict – should they need it. And I don’t believe the admin’s “show restraint” statements sent any kind of â€˜wrong signal’ to the Islamofascists involved in coordinating and carrying out the terrorist attacks against Israel: to the contrary, jihadi thugs know how the US views Islamofascism, and how Israel views it: we don’t tolerate it. Terrorist groups like Hezbollah know that the US and Israel have simliar goals when it comes to radical Islam. When the smoke clears (no pun intended), the US – under the Bush administration – will always stand with Israel.
Now, while I’d love for my word to be the ‘final word’ on the matter (*chuckle*), I know the only person who could convince the people who have taken issue with the ‘restraint’ comments would be the President himself. Hopefully the statements he made to Tony Blair that I quoted will provide some reassurances to those who believe he’s looked too ‘middle of the road’ on this issue.
Memeorandum’s link roundup on the conflict in the Middle East can be found here.
JBlogosphere has a list of bloggers who are live blogging the latest developments.