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NYT: As weeks wore on, Bush Administration began to doubt Israel could win an outright military victory in Lebanon

Published: Sunday August 13, 2006

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As the weeks "wore on," the Bush Administration began to doubt that Israel could win an outright military victory in Lebanon, according to an early version of an article published in Monday's New York Times.

An advance version of the Times article obtained by RAW STORY included references to such doubts as expressed by an unidentified senior Bush Administration official, but for unknown reasons it was left out of the published article.

"When the war in Lebanon began in mid-July, American diplomacy was predicated on giving the vaunted Israeli armed forces the time it needed to destroy Hezbollah militarily," Warren Hoge had once written.

The unpublished draft continued:

"The Bush administration resisted all calls for a cease-fire, even as worldwide clamor for one increased, arguing that a simple truce with no conditions for its aftermath would leave Hezbollah entrenched and Israel exposed to renewed rocket attacks from southern Lebanon."
"As the weeks wore on and civilian casualties mounted and the Hezbollah fighters proved to be an unexpected match for the experienced soldiers of Israel, however, the Bush administration began to doubt whether Israel could indeed win an outright military victory, according to a senior administration official."

Excerpts from the revised Times article follow:


When Israel began its counterattack on Hezbollah one month ago, the Bush administration backed the Israeli plan to destroy the militia and its arsenal of rockets, resisting efforts by France and other allies to call for a cease-fire.

But as the assault wore on and it became evident that Hezbollah was a far more fearsome and skilled adversary than Israel had first thought and as Lebanese civilian casualties mounted American policy moved more urgently toward seeking an immediate political solution.

That shift, recounted by senior administration officials, led to one of the most dramatic bouts of diplomacy that the United Nations Security Council has witnessed in years. Whether it leads to peace in southern Lebanon remains unclear. But what is certain is that negotiators in a half-dozen countries took part in a rare high-wire act.

American secretaries of state attend Security Council sessions on resolutions only after a deal has been struck. Yet last Friday, when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived in New York, not only was there no deal, it was unclear whether the Council would even meet.