How much longer can American prestige survive the embarrassments inflicted by President Bush?

Bush’s demand that Syria immediately withdraw its troops from Lebanon is a ricochet demand. If Lebanon cannot have free elections while under foreign military occupation, how, asks the rest of the world, does Iraq have free elections when it is under U.S. military occupation?
—————————————————————-

Syria has a secular Alawite government. Now that Shi’ites are taking over in Iraq, Shi’ites in Lebanon – and especially the Iranian-sponsored and -controlled Shi’ite Hezbollah movement – are likely to gain additional political traction as well. Today, we are witnessing the creation of precisely the Shi’ite geopolitical bloc – the “Shi’ite crescent from Iran to Lebanon” – of which King Abdullah of Jordan warned, without effect, a deluded President Bush.

Proud not to be “reality-based,” the Bush administration is oblivious to the situation on the ground. But reality in Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia is up close and personal. The last thing wanted by the rulers of those countries, as well as the leaders of Egypt and Pakistan, is more instability that will play into the hands of such Islamist revolutionaries as Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. But instability is rising, and the rulers of those countries now fear being swept away.

Syria had absolutely nothing to gain from the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Hariri. In fact, the assassination was a catastrophe for the Syrian government. It is Osama bin Laden’s aim, and perhaps Iran’s, to destabilize Lebanon and Syria in order to draw the U.S. in deeper. Instability serves bin Laden’s revolutionary purposes and aids Iran by creating new problems for the U.S. in the region. ~Paul Craig Roberts