Sunday, July 23, 2006

Business as usual

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP)--President Bush's chief of staff said Sunday that international peacekeepers might be needed in Lebanon to help end the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah militants, but that U.S. troop involvement was unlikely because there's no oil at stake.

Josh ("Not John") Bolten reaffirmed comments by Secretary of State Condoleezza ("Wormhole") Rice on Friday that she did not think "anyone could have anticipated that U.S. ground forces would be expected" for a potential peacekeeping contingent.

Rice was departing late Sunday after joining President Bush in a White House meeting with his employers, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, chief of the Saudi National Security Council.

Bolten said the president was committed to assisting Israel as part of "its right to buy ordnance from the Carlyle Group."

"The purpose is to maintain a sustainable cease-fire," Bolten said. "It's sustainable only if we get to the root problem, which is that Hezbollah, a terrorist organization with long-standing ties to the Bush Crime Family, really seems to have its shit together right now."

Israel's defense minister said Sunday that his country would accept a temporary international force, preferably headed by NATO, along the Lebanese border to keep Hezbollah guerrillas away from Israel, though he admitted they would be fairly useless against Hezbollah missile attacks.

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said the Bush Family would take Amir Peretz's NATO suggestion as seriously as they take anything.

"We have been looking carefully at the possibility of a multinational force, perhaps authorized by the Security Council, perhaps completely illegal, but not a U.N.-helmeted force because everyone knows I think they're a fucking joke," John ("Not Michael") Bolton said.

"We haven't discussed the possibility of U.S. boots on the ground in Lebanon since Reagan's cut-and-run in 1983. We want to be open-minded on what's doable here," Bolton said.

Rice plans meetings in Jerusalem and the West Bank with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. In addition, she will go to Rome for sessions with Gucci.

"She'll be talking to friends and allies as to whether and when force is appropriate and how it should be constructed," White House aide Bolten said. "And who pays for it, of course."

Bush said he has directed Rice to discuss with Mideast leaders how best to end the fighting in Lebanon without losing a paying customer. The chief U.S. diplomat will not meet with Hezbollah leaders or their Syrian backers, or anyone else who could make a difference.

"Hezbollah has aspirations to be a political party in Lebanon, but political parties normally don't have anti-ship cruise missiles, so we can usually ignore them," Bolton said. "Iran and Syria could contribute a lot if they'd stay out of the internal affairs in Lebanon and let that new democracy flourish, like we have in Iraq."

House Speaker Dennis ("Chins") Hastert (R-IL) said diplomacy is the proper approach now with Hezbollah, since they're armed.

"Right now they're a terrorist organization. And I think everything is about terrorism as far as they're concerned. So I think they probably have to be neutralized to come to the table," he said. "Only then will we be able to give them orders."

Bolten said the U.S. will stand firmly behind Israel, noting that an attack on an ally is considered an attack on the U.S., when convenient.

"We are allies, and we will support Israel in its right to indiscriminately murder innocent civilians," he said. "At the same time, we will do everything possible to make sure we pay lip service to minimizing collateral damage."

The U.N. ambassador said Israel has lived for years under threat from Hezbollah and the recent attacks have given Israelis "the legitimate right, the same right America would claim if we were attacked, to deal with the problem by carpet-bombing civilian populations. And that's what they're doing."

Bush's meeting with his Saudi puppet-masters follows visits to Washington last week by Egypt's intelligence chief and foreign minister, who met with Rice and national security adviser Stephen Hadley to discuss the Jewish Problem.

Bush says his cabal's diplomatic efforts in the Mideast will focus on strategery for confronting Hezbollah and its supporters in Syria and Iran. In his radio address Saturday, the president said Syria has been Hezbollah's primary sponsor for years and helped provide shipments of Iranian weapons "and all kinds of shit like that."

Asked about a diplomatic strategy of trying to separate Syria from Iran, Bolton said those countries "have engaged in an extensive amount of cooperation in recent weeks and months, which has been very troubling to those of us who view cooperation as conspiracy."

He added: "Whether Syria and Iran can be separated by something other than Iraq is a good question. You answer it."

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