Don’t have a clue? Send in the Navy.

I’m a pretty reliable critic of the Bush administration’s policies in the Middle East, but I can usually see the logic behind them. I have to admit, though, that the decision to send the U.S.S. Cole to the Lebanese coast has stumped me. U.S. officials say their intent is to bolster the embattled Lebanese government, ...

596168_080304_cole2.jpg
596168_080304_cole2.jpg

I'm a pretty reliable critic of the Bush administration's policies in the Middle East, but I can usually see the logic behind them. I have to admit, though, that the decision to send the U.S.S. Cole to the Lebanese coast has stumped me. U.S. officials say their intent is to bolster the embattled Lebanese government, force a long-delayed decision on a new president, and show Syria that America means business. But what is a missile destroyer supposed to actually do in this situation? Shoot at Hezbollah? The only things this boneheaded move will accomplish are to remind the Lebanese of 1983, when U.S. warships ineffectually shelled the Chouf mountains, and embarrass Prime Minister Fouad Seniora's government. The Syrians know this well, and they will use this incident to their advantage.

It's the starkest example I've yet seen of trying to use the U.S. military to solve a political problem. The good news is that Lebanon doesn't matter as much as many people seem to think it does, so any damage done here will be limited.

I’m a pretty reliable critic of the Bush administration’s policies in the Middle East, but I can usually see the logic behind them. I have to admit, though, that the decision to send the U.S.S. Cole to the Lebanese coast has stumped me. U.S. officials say their intent is to bolster the embattled Lebanese government, force a long-delayed decision on a new president, and show Syria that America means business. But what is a missile destroyer supposed to actually do in this situation? Shoot at Hezbollah? The only things this boneheaded move will accomplish are to remind the Lebanese of 1983, when U.S. warships ineffectually shelled the Chouf mountains, and embarrass Prime Minister Fouad Seniora’s government. The Syrians know this well, and they will use this incident to their advantage.

It’s the starkest example I’ve yet seen of trying to use the U.S. military to solve a political problem. The good news is that Lebanon doesn’t matter as much as many people seem to think it does, so any damage done here will be limited.

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