TPM Reader SP chimes in …
Hey Josh —
the larger points in the current Israel/Palestine/Lebanon crisis are two: Olmert’s apparent lack of “maturity” as PM for lack of a better word, and seeming inability to measure his govt’s response, has escalated the situation close to a point of no return. given the harsh rhetoric and extreme measures being taken it appears the the situation is being run by the war-makers in the cabinet and there seems to be no countervailing voice of reason, moderation or diplomacy. the other is that the crisis has exposed in stark relief the US’ utter inability to influence the situation. Bush has nothing to offer, having bought wholesale into the rhetoric of “terror”-he can’t ask for moderation, he can’t use any bargaining chips, he can’t bully Olmert in any of the ways his predecessors have done.
this is a truly unfortunate turn of events, not the least from the point of view of most Israelis who supported Kadima-I doubt this is what they had in mind.
I don’t agree wholesale with this comment. You can see my views here. But SP does get at a key issue here — the perception of Olmert in Israel and around the region. Unlike most Israeli leaders, Olmert was not a career Army officer. Whether he is ‘mature’ or not, he doesn’t have the leeway for restraint in the way Sharon might have. Not that Sharon was known for exercising restraint in many cases, certainly — but he had much more room for maneuver, precisely because of that. No doubt, this greatly heightens the volatility of the situation.