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Middle East Despots Emboldened by Israel's Failure

Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, praising Hezbollah's "glorious battle" against Israel is arguing that US plans for the Middle East, i.e. for peace and democracy, have now vanished and that Israel is now known to be vulnerable.

In another subtle but very important point, Assad says that it is time for Arab nations to stop feeling pre-emptively defeated, to gain confidence, and to work toward ultimate defeat and destruction of Israel.

Of the world's many dictators, Assad is one of the most pathetic. He is an optometrist, trained in England, who was handed his job by his father. It is no accident that he keeps his moustache looking much like Hitler's.

But despite the degree to which Assad has been a bad actor and made a nuisance of himself and his country, he is small potatoes compared to the damage which Iran could cause.

The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who to the western eye certainly seems unbalanced, is probably much smarter and more clever than we give him credit for. He also controls a much bigger and better military than Assad.

Therefore, we must pay close attention to his rhetoric despite any desire to brush him off as all bark and no bite. And it is particularly disturbing to hear Ahmadinejad spouting the same very dangerous line as Assad:

From the Iranian president's web site:

"Aside from the humiliation it (Zionist regime) received as a result of its failure to achieve its military objectives, the myth of the regime's military invincibility has been destroyed thanks to the the enduring faith and resistance of Lebanon's Hezbollah," he said. "Henceforth, all power equations in the region will witness a change," he added.

It is no coincidence that the same day Amhadinejad released a statement saying that "Enemies fail in attempts against Iran's nuclear issue." Middle Eastern dictators are feeling empowered, at our great peril.

We are now seeing the long-term damage done to Israel, and more importantly our own American interests, in the Middle East by the muddling uncertain prosecution of the war by Israel. In my estimation, there is almost no chance that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will keep his job through the end of the year.

In the first time in Israel's history, they have a Prime Minister and Defense Minister who have no real military experience. Unfortunately, they demonstrated their ineptness and uncertainty in the most damaging way, leaving Israel the non-victor in a war with an enemy they absolutely had to defeat.

Make no mistake, this outcome is effectively a loss by Israel. We should all recognize that it is just as great a loss for America and anybody who treasures freedom, life, and everything the world has brought us since the "nasty, brutish, and short" life of the Middle Ages, the life that Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, and Ahmadinejad want to return us to.