Mr. Bush also sent Condi Rice to lay out a plan to the Arabs and Europeans about the destruction and refugee flight in Lebanon, but the plan turns out to be a plan to do nothing until Israel has more time to kick the Hezb out of Hezbollah.
W. says he supports more diplomacy, but it’s the diplomacy of sanctimony. He now grudgingly notes that “the violence in Baghdad is still terrible,” but doesn’t seem to grasp the tragic enormity of an occupation that is sliding into civil war and constricting his leverage to deal with all the other crises crackling around the world. The U.N. reported last week that in May and June no less than 5,818 Iraqi civilians were killed.
The more things get complicated, the more W. feels vindicated in his own simplified vision. The more people try to tell him that it’s not easy, that this is a region of shifting alliances and interests, the less he seems inclined to develop an adroit policy to win people over to our side instead of trying to annihilate them.
Bill Clinton, the Mutable Man par excellence, evolved four times a day; he had a tactical and even recreational attitude toward personal change. But W. prides himself on his changelessness and regards his immutability as the surest sign of his virtue. Facing a map on fire, he sees any inkling of change as the slippery slope to failure.
That’s what’s so frustrating about watching him deal — or not deal — with Iraq and Lebanon. There’s almost nothing to watch.
It’s not even like watching paint dry, since that, too, is a passage from one state to another. It’s like watching dry paint.