Rice and Olmert take the initiative

Condi Rice’s trip to Beirut this morning was smart politics. It went a long way in reframing the conflict as not Israel v. Lebanon, but Israel v. Hezbollah on Lebanese soil. The visit also allows Rice to demonstrate humanitarian concerns and presents Washington as having Lebanon’s—as well as Israel’s—best interests at heart. Speaking of smart ...

607746_Rice28.jpg
607746_Rice28.jpg

Condi Rice's trip to Beirut this morning was smart politics. It went a long way in reframing the conflict as not Israel v. Lebanon, but Israel v. Hezbollah on Lebanese soil. The visit also allows Rice to demonstrate humanitarian concerns and presents Washington as having Lebanon's—as well as Israel's—best interests at heart.

Speaking of smart moves: Ehud Olmert has been making some of his own. His acceptance yesterday of an Arab presence in any multinational border force guarantees that if the force comes to fruition, the division between Hezbollah and more moderate Arab states will be cemented. The plan also makes it more difficult to paint the Israelis as irrevocably anti-Arab, as so many people are tragically inclined to.  

Condi Rice’s trip to Beirut this morning was smart politics. It went a long way in reframing the conflict as not Israel v. Lebanon, but Israel v. Hezbollah on Lebanese soil. The visit also allows Rice to demonstrate humanitarian concerns and presents Washington as having Lebanon’s—as well as Israel’s—best interests at heart.

Speaking of smart moves: Ehud Olmert has been making some of his own. His acceptance yesterday of an Arab presence in any multinational border force guarantees that if the force comes to fruition, the division between Hezbollah and more moderate Arab states will be cemented. The plan also makes it more difficult to paint the Israelis as irrevocably anti-Arab, as so many people are tragically inclined to.  

James Forsyth is assistant editor at Foreign Policy.

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