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Another “Fair And Balanced” FOX News Panel On The Israeli War: Disagreement Over Whether US Should Attack Iran And Syria With A Knife Or A Sledgehammer

Reported by Ellen - July 22, 2006 -

I don’t know why FOX News is always touting the fall of the Soviet Union when they seem to be doing their not-so-level headed best to emulate Soviet media. It’s 10 days into the Israeli-Lebanon war and there has yet to be a single guest on Hannity & Colmes who has criticized the Israeli position much less an Arab or Muslim with a different perspective. Last night (7/21/06) on the “we report, you decide” network, H&C featured another panel with two guests supportive of Israel. Their only debate was whether the US should join the war with “a knife” or “a sledgehammer” against Iran and Syria.

The two guests were former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (under Bush 41), Jed Babbin and FOX News contributor retired Lieutenant Colonel Tim Eads.

Rich Lowry started off the discussion with a very sympathetic-to-Israel lead in. He said it appears to be “a matter of time before Israeli tanks roll across the border into Lebanon. The goal to push Hezbollah back some 20 miles from the border with Israel, behind the Litani River. This would create a buffer zone, similar to the one created after the Israeli invasion of 1982. The zone is meant to create enough distance so that Hezbollah rockets can’t reach across the border.”

Lowry didn’t mention that, as the BBC reports, “Senior Lebanese officials said the country's army would go into battle if Israel invaded Lebanon.”

The only less than positive remark about Israel came from Eads who told Lowry that the reason for the ground offensive was because the air strikes have been ineffective “by and large.” But Eads was quick to add that the air strikes have “dissipated” some of Hezbollah. “But if you want to destroy Hezbollah, which is what Israel says it wants to do, and not destroy the country, you’ve got to put ground forces in there and fight the battle with rifles as opposed to 2000 pound bombs.”

Neither Eads nor Babbin spent a moment considering what the Lebanese civilian population has had to endure or will have to endure as a result. As was also reported in the BBC, the air strikes have caused “civilian casualties and huge damage. Now warnings are being given to those civilians left in Southern Lebanon to get out, though how they can do so easily and quickly along blown up roads is unclear.”

Lowry didn’t seem to think the Lebanese worth considering, either. His question was whether the Israelis had a realistic chance to destroy Hezbollah with a ground invasion. Surprise, surprise! That stoked Babbin for a confrontation with Syria and Iran.

“All (the Israelis) can do,” Babbin said, “is really take apart a lot of the terrorist infrastructure that Hezbollah, with help from Syria and Iran, has built over the past two decades. You’re right. They can’t destroy Hezbollah because whatever is destroyed in Lebanon will be rebuilt and replaced by Syria and Tehran. If you don’t deal with this problem at its source, Rich, this is going to be something we’re going to see towards infinity, every five or ten years."

Alan Colmes, as usual, was the only person casting a doubt on widening the conflict. “Are you saying we should just go in and take care of Syria and Iran? You want us to go in and invade?”

Babbin tried to frame it with that neocon buzzword, regime change. “What I’m saying is you have to take down both of those regimes. I’m not saying we need to go in with a ground invasion… There’s a lot of ways to do it. Number one, we can take down the Tehran regime with a lot of different kinds of air weapons that strike not at the nuclear weapons program but at the regime, itself.”

Colmes wasn’t buying it. “You want to start another war with another country?”

So Babbin pulled out Neocon frames B and C: we’re already at war and those who don't want to fight are a threat to the US. “Alan, we’ve been at war with the United States (sic) since 1979. The problem is because of people like you who don’t want to recognize it, we have not fought it. The Iranians have been fighting it, they’ve been killing Americans. You know that Hezbollah is a creation of Iran. They killed 241 servicemen.”

Each night, Colmes seems less and less tolerant of all the war talk he keeps hearing. “We’re not doing that well where we’re already fighting wars. You want to increase the hostilities and go up against countries we’re not currently fighting directly. And this is going to solve the problem in the Middle East?”

Later, Colmes said that regime change has been the “calling card” of the Bush Administration. “We did regime change in Iraq. We’re (mired) there in a guerrilla war, an insurgency war. This is exactly what Hezbollah wants. They want to pull Israel and anybody else they can into Lebanon, don’t they? For an insurgency-type war that they know they are better at than Western nations who seem not to fight those wars as well.”

Eads’ only disagreement with Babbin was over the method of destroying Hezbollah. “In my opinion, it is more effective to kill somebody with a knife than it is with a sledgehammer because of the splatter you get when you kill somebody with a sledgehammer. There are ways to take Hezbollah out all the way back into Syria and Tehran without having to do massive bombing campaigns and commit hundreds of thousands of soldiers.” Eads never said what those ways were. Instead, Lowry jumped in and asked for the best and worst case scenarios.

Eads said a peacekeeping force that sets up a buffer zone and stays there for years and years would be the worst-case scenario. He did not say what the best case might be.