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Calls for diplomacy, negotiation in Middle East promptly rebutted and dismissed on The O'Reilly Factor

Reported by Chrish - July 18, 2006 -

On The Factor tonight 7/17/06, consecutive guests General Wes Clark and Lt. Col. Ralph Peters had different takes on what to do about the escalation of violence in the Middle East. Peters followed Clark and had the opportunity to dismiss Clark's more measured calls for less violent options.

Clark says that we must link Israel's military action, measured by it's effectiveness in dismantling Hezbollah, with sufficient diplomatic pressure and support to the government of Lebanon to force Hezbollah out of south Lebanon and discredit the organization.

What Israel needs to do is better targeting - fill the sky with unmanned surveillance vehicles, put special forces scouts on the ground, and relay the information to the pilots. O'Reilly protests that there will be civilian deaths, and Clark acknowledges there will be some but not too many. Sunni Arabs are not generally supporters of Hezbollah because they know that Hezbollah is a proxy for Iran and Syria. Israel has a good window of opportunity if they can deliver the military goods. Meanwhile the US should be working behind the scenes to draw the international community together to support the Lebanese government in any way they can. Lebanon needs to demonstrate political resolve by calling on Hezbollah to evacuate; they need to call for an investigation and hold the leaders of Hezbollah accountable; then have Lebanese troops go in to enforce the evacuation.

O'Reilly finds fault with all of it - Syria will authorize Hezbollah terrorists to turn on the Lebanese government. The UN won't enforce resolutions. France and Russia won't help. The world still tolerates Saddam, Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah... (he ticks them off on his fingers, those designated enemies of the Bush administration.)

Clark replies that we've got to take the openings that are offered, and ths is an opportunity to deepen democracy in Lebanon if we (the US) does it right. Working behind the scenes we can strengthen Israel's security and deal a blow to Iran and Syria without ever putting a US soldier, airman, or Marine in danger.

Comment: I hope we are smart enough to follow his advice and not the loons who cry for more war, more death. Speaking of loons, the next guest is Peters, who shares O'Reilly's negative view of diplomacy and world co-operation. O'Reilly lauds Peters' new book, "Never Quit the Fight," (there's a clue) calling it "one of the best books you can get if you want to know about the terror fight." (Another Peters title yields another clue: "New Glory: Expanding America's Global Supremacy.")

Peters says he differs with Clark, though "he was right about one thing: Israel needs to go after Hezbollah directly and ferociously." Otherwise, Clark is living in a pre-9/11 world. Negotiating with terrorists, getting the UN involved, and, "god help us the French", it would just make a big mess.

He says that "Israel has very few friends: the US, other English speaking countries; much of the rest of the world wishes the Holocaust had succeeded."

(It should be noted that to that outrageous statement, O'Reilly said "OK" and moved to the next question - no "aw, c'mon", no whining, just "OK.")

When O'Reilly paraphrases Clarks suggestions, saying that Bush would help rally NATO allies to support Lebanon in sending militia to southern Lebanon to help Israel eject Hezbollah, and asks if that's possible. Peters says emphatically "No, it is absolutely impossible." It's also not what Clark suggested; close but no loofah.

Peters goes with the scenario, though, and says that the Lebanes forces are weak and a work in progress, and if they were sent to fight Hezbollah, the strongest, highest morale military in the Arab world, there's be mutinies and disintegrations in some units, and those who stayed to fight would get hammered. Hezbollah has gotten so strong because of the UN's lack of enforcement of disarmament resolutions that even Israel is afraid of them.

O'Reilly reiterates one of the day's talking points: that "publicly, Bush should go 'Look, we gotta have restraint, we don't wanna have civilian deaths, but privately he should be going "just kick the living hell out of them, get as many as you can, and then we'll try to come to some ceasefire accommodation - that's what I would do."

Peters says that O'Reilly's talking points were right on target, and then they was both jumping up and down yelling, "KILL, KILL." My bad, that's a song...people don't really do that.

Peters says that Israel under Olmert is weak, and they need to put tanks and infantry in Lebanon to get the terrorists out of apartments, villages and olive groves. He fears we're seeing a failure of Israeli will and says time is not on their side.

O'Reilly presented the voice of reason to the Lt. Colonel, noting that Peters' tactics would bring Syria into the fight and create a big regional mess. He pointed out that commandoes have been in Lebanon already and that Clark did call for special forces to go in after the air strikes (actually he called for them to go in as scouts before the air strikes to help pinpoint targets, but whatever, right? He's misrepresenting Clark again but he sounds like he knows what he's talking about.) He asks Peters if he thinks that full-blown infantry invasion is the only way to go, and Peters says they should have done it immediately to keep the element of surprise. They can still do it, but if they don't, they will lose "this round." As for the Syrian military, they're in bad shape - corrupt, degenerate, and the Israeli defense could take them apart very very quickly. Hezbollah is the tough nut to crack, and every day that Israel doesn't destroy Hezbollah completely is a victory for Hezbollah in the Arab world.

Comment: If Israel can take them apart very easily then I presume we could do it with one hand tied behind our backs. When they start marketing the threat from Syria remember this.

Clark's piece was misrepresented twice and refuted by the much more strident and hawkish views of Peters, who got the last word to ring in viewers' ears. O'Reilly challenged Clark's ideas and advice, but echoed, reinforced and even elaborated on Peters calls for more force. Fair and balanced, or pushing an agenda? It's all in the presentation.