FT.com story is revealing.The opening para sets the scene as a battle between ideology and reality:
Washington’s foreign policy elite is engaged in a bitter tussle between “neoconservatives” and “realists” seeking to influence George W. Bush’s stance on the Israel-Lebanon crisis. The neocons increasingly have the upper hand.The author, Edward Luce, notes how Bush’s language now includes the terms “Islamic fascists” and “Islamofascism” – terms long in currency among neoconservatives.
Former and current administration officials say that George W. Bush feels more strongly and is more engaged in support of Israel’s military assault on Hizbollah than on any other question. They say Mr Bush feels passionately that the US should support Israel in what he sees as the frontline in the global battle between democracy and terrorism.
Luce says Bush believes that the fighting between Israel and Hizbollah is a proxy war between the US and Iran. He notes that the US has not produced any evidence of a link between Hizbollah and Iran, despite all the rumours.
There there is this disturbing quote:
“We get clear indications the Bush administration sees this crisis in black and white terms,” said a senior European diplomat who is closely involved in the UN negotiations. “There is a widespread view that US diplomacy is a prisoner of its own starkly moral framework.”So what's going on?
Meanwhile, Washington’s increasingly marginalised foreign policy “realists” claim – without substantiation – that Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state, was overruled by Mr Bush last month when she argued for an earlier ceasefire by Israel.
Backed by ex-colleagues of former president George H.W. Bush, such as Brent Scowcroft and Lawrence Eagleburger, they argue the US should talk to Syria – which also backs Hizbollah – to help defuse the crisis.
Mr Bush dismissed that advice this week. “Syria knows what we think,” he said. “They know exactly what our position is.” Republican critics of Mr Bush say he is risking a broader war because of his refusal to consider talking to unfriendly regimes.
“There was no suggestion Mr Bush wanted to know what Syria thinks,” said John Hulsman, a foreign policy analyst who left the conservative Heritage foundation last month. “This administration continues to believe talking is a sign of weakness. In spite of Iraq, the neocons are still in charge.”