Bush: We won't send soldiers to Lebanon
American president says that he would be happy to help organize multinational force in southern Lebanon, but won't send US soldiers. Reiterates Israel's right to defend itself: 'Terrible situation where innocent people lose their lives. And yesterday's situation was awful, but it's also awful that million Israelis worried about rockets'
WASHINGTON - The President of the United States, George W. Bush, has spoken much in the last two weeks about establishing a multinational force in southern Lebanon, but Monday he clarified that such a force will not include American soldiers. In an interview with Fox News, the president asid that though there wouldn't be any American soldiers on the ground in Lebanon, the US would be happy to help with logistics.
During the interview, Bush was questioned about the tragic incident Sunday in Qana, in which upwards of 60 Lebanese civilians were killed. "It's a terrible situation where innocent people lose their lives. And yesterday's situation was awful. understand that, but it's also awful that a million Israelis are worried about rockets being fired from their — from their neighbor to the north."
Bush emphasized that despite the sorrow of killing of civilians and the international pressure on Israel, "Israel's a sovereign nation, and she would defend herself. What we've got to do is put pressure on the world to help create the conditions so that when there's a ceasefire, it lasts."
The interview with Bush was held simultaneously with the cabinet meeting in which it was decided to expand ground troop operations in Lebanon. It seemed as though Bush was aware of Israel's intention to intensify the confrontation on the ground. "Stopping for the sake of stopping is — can be OK, except it won't address the root cause of the problem," said Bush. "We are going to work with our allies to bring before the United Nations Security Council a resolution that will end the violence and lay the groundwork for lasting peace in the Middle East."
In reference to the possibility that Hizbullah won't obey a Security Council decision to disarm, Bush said that once the Lebanese army is dispatched to the south of the country, it will kick off the application of UN Security Council Resolution 1559.
Bush claimed that he sees the flare up between Israel and Hizbullah in a more inclusive view as a "clash of governing styles." From his perspective, the situation in Lebanon and Iraq is similar to what is going on in the Palestinian Authority. As these young democracies grow, you see terrorist groups trying to stop their advance. That's what happening in Iraq, that's what is happening in the Palestinian territories," Bush said. According to this perspective, Bush said, when Olmert extended a hand to Abu Mazen, the terrorists were frightened.
Bush asserted that the terrorists can't tolerate the idea of a democracy. They exploit the deaths of innocent people in order to halt democratic developments and that this is the challenge of our era. Iran and Syria, he said, are enmeshed in terrorism, and they must stop. About the Iranians, Bush said, "I think that they sponsor Hizbullah, and therefore, I wouldn't be surprised if they're very much involved in the activities of Hizbullah."