Now that the ground incursions against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon have begun, Israel is turning increasing attention to Syria. The word Israel wants put out to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad is “Stop!” – stop supporting Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon and stop sending terrorists into Iraq to disrupt the movement toward democracy.

President Bush should not be pressuring Israel to use “restraint” and “allowing” Israel only one week more to solve a Hezbollah problem that has taken more than two decades to develop. He should be stepping up the pressure on Syria to act responsibly, once and for all.

This is a historic moment in the Middle East, a chance for Israel to crush Hezbollah, a criminal terrorist organization that has no hesitation to lob rockets into Jewish communities, killing civilians, including women and children, indiscriminately. President Bush should pick up the telephone and ask Prime Minister Olmert: “What do you need?” Any assistance we can send Israel at this moment would be valuable. But most importantly, Condi Rice should not be dispatched to the Middle East to pull in the reins.

The best sign that Hezbollah is losing badly is to see U.N. Director-General Kofi Annan call for a cease-fire. For decades, the U.N. has been notoriously anti-Israel, blatantly holding meetings with a backdrop of a Middle Eastern map that shows no Israel. A cease-fire now will leave Hezbollah in place, yet enough intact to be restored and resupplied by Iran via Iran’s client state Syria.

Predictably, Iran’s ambassador to Lebanon, Mahammad-Reza Sheybani, met with Lebanese President Emile Lahout to offer Iran’s assistance in restoring order. This is like the chief burglar meeting with the police chief to offer assistance in capturing bank robbers. The Iranian Republic News Agency, or IRNA, quoted Lahoud as praising the character of Iran President Ahmadinejad, saying that “convergence and unity is the only way to overcome the brutal aggression of the Zionist regime.”

For months, Ahmadinejad has persisted in calling for Israel to be wiped off the map. Maybe Iran and Syria could ask Kofi Annan if Syria might be invited to reoccupy Lebanon to “restore peace.” That way, the Middle East could be brought back to normalcy, a state of affairs where only Jews are being killed and the terrorists run the government.

Sheybani typically tried to turn the tables, blaming Israel for the war. According to IRNA, Sheybani added, “Israel’s measures, including attacks on public places and innocent people as well as using banned weapons violate all international laws and criteria.” Sounds like the blue helmets need to be called to impose a cease-fire on Israel, before Hezbollah is wiped off the map of the Middle East.

As reported by IRNA, Sheybani told Lahoud that Iran would stand by the Lebanese people, enabling them to gain their legitimate and legal rights. Sheybani concluded by lamenting that “the silence of the world and regional community vis-?-vis the crimes committed by the Zionist regime is unjustifiable.” This is table-turning propaganda worthy of the Communist Chinese Cultural Revolution at its heights.

In Syria, President Assad made his first public comments on the war, calling for a cease-fire. Lebanon’s minister of the economy, Sami Haddad, also lamented the war, saying, “We are really facing a humanitarian disaster. The ferocity of this aggression has reached inhuman proportions. The priority for us is a cease-fire. People are dying; civilians are being targeted deliberately. It’s really a tragedy.”

Why weren’t Lebanon and Syria making similar humanitarian pleas for an end to violence when Hezbollah and Hamas stepped up rocket attacks on Israeli civilian communities? Evidently, Lebanon and Syria considered Hezbollah and Hamas attacks on Israeli citizens just and proper in their moral universe where the Israelis as occupiers of Muslim land deserve all the violence the radical Islamic terrorists can send their way.

Since the second inaugural, President Bush has appeared more concerned about building international coalitions than about fighting terrorism vigorously. The strategy to allow the EU-3 and the IAEA to lead negotiations with Iran has wasted nearly two years in pointless talks.

Even now that the Bush administration has finally managed to get the issue of Iran’s nuclear program before the U.N. Security Council, we are bogged down once again in diplomacy. The reality is Russia and China, both allies of Iran, will block any meaningful Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on Iran. Meanwhile, Iran day-by-day proceeds to enrich uranium, advancing toward making a nuclear weapon that can be delivered on their Shahab-3 missile.

The reality is the world gives terrorist governments a pass. The U.N. found that the Lebanese security services and Syrian military intelligence bore responsibility for the assassination of Lebanese former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Yet, the world community did nothing. The rule is that terrorist states get a pass, no matter how guilty they are in killing and maiming innocent civilians and government officials who dare to oppose them.

President Bush is at an important moment in his second term. The administration should put Syria on notice that an open route between Syria and Lebanon will no longer be left open, not as long as Syria persists in using that safe conduit to supply additional consignments of Iranian weaponry to Hezbollah.

The moment Bush lends his voice to the growing international chorus demanding a cease-fire he will have put an end to any credibility that the administration intends to fight a war on terrorism in any serious manner. Crushing Hezbollah and putting Assad on notice will accomplish a needed goal. Right now, Israel is positioned to deal the world of radical Islamic terrorism a severe blow.

What President Bush should be doing is sending a few jet fighters to Israel so the next time Israel decides to buzz over Assad’s home the Israeli jets can be joined by a few U.S. Air Force pilots flying world-class U.S. fighters. The escort might just deliver the message to Assad, and possibly even to Ahmadinejad, that now is the time to stop.

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