They were obsessed with the war between Israel and Hezbollah. It had to stop: a cease fire at all costs. So Condi Rice stepped into the fray and, as soon as Israel had truly won the upper hand in battle, she produced a cease fire.  Its terms were on every essential count altogether vague. The U.N. force that had been a flop for so long in keeping the peace would now be enlarged. But there was no certainty as to its numbers or its composition, its mission in general or its specific relations with Syria and its mercurial pawn, Hezbollah. Hassan Nasrallah taunted everybody that his death machine was stronger than ever. Most governments laughed. The people of Lebanon--at least most of its Christians, the Sunnis and the Druze--now realize that his claims are no joke. The Shi'a grasped that long ago, and most of them have been following his bloody banner ever since.


The only success the cease fire had was in preventing Israel from impeding the Syrian and Iranian rearmament of the fiery militia that has now shown that its power is not limited to southern Lebanon but extends way north to Tripoli and into the Bekaa Valley. A very informative account of the developments in Lebanon--actually a crystal-clear account--in Monday's Financial Times reports that "Saudi and Egyptian officials said they were dismayed by Hizbollah's actions, which they have described as unacceptable." Unacceptable? This is the vernacular of pretentious regimes that can affect nothing.


Ten days ago foolish Israelis took up the chorus of withdrawal from the Golan and peace with Syria. The sage and sober editorialists in the Western press got very excited. But the events in Lebanon are more than a hint that Bashir Assad does not want this celebration.


If you want to read a truly desolating account of how we came to this pass and what it implies for the future of the Middle East read Beni Avni's article in Monday's New York Sun.