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Bush Knows Israel is Winning

By Seth Swirsky

You would never know Israel was winning its war against Hezbollah if you relied on media reports. Or heeded the world's diplomats who, of course, have their own agendas. Or, especially, if you listened to the Democrats, whose "even-handed" view of good and evil is central to their philosophy.

None of these are the real indicators of the truth on the ground in Lebanon, where the Israeli military is handing the Islamic terrorist group a steady and on-going drubbing.

The truth can be found solely in the willingness of President George W. Bush to stand firm in his resolve to allow Israel the time to finish the job. The president recognizes the importance of removing the Iranian and Syrian pawn from the Middle East equation, the value of encouraging a Lebanese democracy that will join the budding ones in Iraq and Afghanistan - which will further change the face of the region - plus the moral imperative to see the good guys win.

He is enough of a realist to recognize that an Israeli defeat - in the form of a draw against the terrorist group - would strengthen the hands of not only the terrorists themselves, but also their sponsors in Iran and Syria. If the President doubted Israel's continuing successes, he too, would be calling for an "immediate ceasefire" with the hope of cutting his - and, of course, America's - losses.

At least for a moment, that seemed to be the direction the president was heading when, last Friday, in a White House news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush said he was sending Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice back to the Middle East to broker a truce. This appeared to be a sign that while they originally backed Israel and continued to wish for her victory, they'd come to believe that Hezbollah - as the pundits, diplomats and Democrats were arguing - was "winning."

And there was some legitimate cause for concern. As to be expected, the Israelis were losing the publicity war. At the same time, recently elected Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert looked inept by not immediately sending massive ground forces into Lebanon. There were even rumors of infighting between the Israeli Air Force and Army as to how to best proceed.

Bush and Blair, it appears, were ready to prevent the quagmire that Israel could not afford and deprive the terrorists and their sponsors the out-and-out publicity of a victory that would increase their recruitment and would have been a devastating blow in the overall War on Terror.

Yet, as with all wars, things ebb and flow. Over the weekend Israel won the important town of Bint Jbail, the main Hezbollah stronghold near the Lebanese-Israeli border. This was of major significance because it showed President Bush that Israel was, in fact, moving in the winning direction. With Bint Jbail so vital - and the place where the Israelis had suffered their greatest one-day loss but a few days before - Olmert's willingness to do what was necessary to win sealed Hezbollah's fate and signaled a return to full confidence from the leader of the Western World.

Then, on Sunday, came the news that 57 Lebanese non-combatants, used as human shields by Hezbollah, were killed in Qana. The worldwide condemnation of Israel was heavy, as it always is. Yet, the Israeli reaction to this sad (but inevitable) tragedy was, again, reassuring to the president, whose heart is in the right place but who also knows that, in the real world, during wartime, feelings are not paramount.

This is because Israel's response - both to the rockets fired from the civilian areas and the crocodile tears of those who have always sought Israel's defeat - indicated to the president that Israel wouldn't fold and Israel wouldn't lose.

It wasn't the episode at Qana per se that changed the war - it was seeing that Israel was continuing to fight and fight hard, methodically, and relentlessly. With the momentum building over the weekend, Condoleezza Rice was called back from the Middle East. This move signified President Bush's satisfaction at how the war was going. Israel now is clearing out a buffer zone all the way up to the Litani River so they don't have to rely on "peacekeepers" to keep them safe.

So until you see Condoleezza Rice hustle back to the Middle East, or President Bush insist on an "immediate ceasefire," don't be too concerned about "how Israel is doing." They are winning and winning big. And the biggest victors, as the president and the Israelis know, will be the civilized world.

Seth Swirsky is a hit songwriter and best selling author. He can be reached through his site, Seth.com.

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