Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Guess Who's "Shocked and Awed" Now?


The violence in Iraq is spiraling out of control, with the daily carnage getting worse by the minute. It's truly unfathomable what the Busheviks have done to destroy this country. It's as if some crackpot, inexperienced, unlicensed surgeon operated on a patient, cut open his chest and stomach, and then left the body with exposed wounds so that disease and rotting can set in and ravage what's left. That's what this criminal administration has done to Iraq. The Kool-aid drunk neo-cons have disemboweld what was a sovereign nation; a country whose only crime against America was that it had an identifiable address for Cheney, Rumsfeld and the war-mongers who used it as a convenient target in its campaign of mass deception.

The Busheviks promised Iraq would become the role model for Middle East democracy, which would stabilize the region, increase Israel's security and be a key victory in the United States' global war on terror. To the contrary, Iraq is hemorrhaging blood in its streets, the region is imploding, we've empowered terror-sponsoring nations like Syria and Iran, and the threat to America is greater than ever. That our standing in the world rests in a pile of shit is only the icing on the Bushevik cake. Thank you Mr. President for fucking things up so colossally that it'll take another decade to clean it up.

Things have gotten so bad that Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) Monday said Iraq
had descended into "absolute anarchy" and that the war was "an absolute replay of Vietnam." He ought to know. The senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Hagel's a highly decorated Vietnam veteran who served with his brother Tom in 1968 as infantry squad leaders with the U.S. Army's 9th Infantry Division. But like all good war heroes, the more he condemns Bush's failed war ythe more likely he'll receive his share of Swift Boat love.

So who's shocked and awed now? Who can forget all the pomposity and masturbatory rhetoric on the eve of the war? "Shock and Awe," the most supremely arrogant phrase ever uttered in the history of the U.S. presidency. But it's now the Bushies who are shell-shocked and in total awe of the magnitude of the insurgency and the hellish wrath its reaped on us all.

15 comments:

dan said...

Being a good recovering alcoholic, I realize that to get better, you have to hit bottom.

Another few months with Bush in charge and we'll be almost there.


dzojogp

Anonymous said...

Andy, so glad that you picked up on Chuck's remarks, as I thought they too were very brave & prescient. However, you failed to reveal all of Hagel's words, which can be found here on CNN, for instance, where it's clear that he is also rebuking Bush for his stance on Israel's criminal aggression against Lebanon. Funny how you edited that out, eh? A little inconvenient truth perhaps? A little bias sneaking in there. So is Hagel still a "good war hero" just another "anti-semite"? Is John McCain? Think, Andy, think. You're hanging yourself with your own noose, buddy. You're losing the plot! Allow me to fill in the gaps for everyone else:

http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/07/31/hagel.mideast/index.html

Key Republican breaks with Bush on Mideast
Nebraska's Sen. Hagel calls for immediate cease-fire

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Urging President Bush to turn all U.S. efforts toward "ending this madness," a leading Republican senator Monday broke with the Bush administration and called for an immediate cease-fire in the Mideast.

"The sickening slaughter on both sides must end and it must end now," Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel said. "President Bush must call for an immediate cease-fire. This madness must stop."

The Bush administration has refused to call for Israel to halt its attacks on southern Lebanon, joining Israel in insisting that Hezbollah fighters must be pushed back from the Israeli-Lebanese border.

President Bush Monday in a speech in Miami Beach, Florida, reiterated his call for a cease-fire in the Mideast only if it brought a "long-lasting peace" that addressed Iran and Syria's support for Hezbollah, the Islamic militia that Israel is targeting. (Full story)

Hagel said that refusal threatens to isolate the United States and Israel and harm chances of achieving a long-term peace in the region.

"How do we realistically believe that a continuation of the systematic destruction of an American friend -- the country and people of Lebanon -- is going to enhance America's image and give us the trust and credibility to lead a lasting and sustained peace effort in the Middle East?" asked Hagel, the No. 2 Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Calls for 'a statesman'

He called on Bush to name "a statesman of global stature" as his personal envoy to the region. And he urged the administration to open direct talks with Hezbollah's backers, Iran and Syria, both of which Washington also accuses of meddling in Iraq.

"Our relationship with Israel is special and historic," he said. "But it need not and cannot be at the expense of our Arab and Muslim relationships. That is an irresponsible and dangerous false choice."

Bush was headed back to Washington after a fund-raising trip to Florida, and the White House had no immediate reaction to Hagel's comments.

Like his frequent ally, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Hagel is a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2008 and has been critical of the administration's handling of Iraq. But few members of Congress have broken ranks with the president over his handling of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.

Calls for an end to the 20-day conflict have increased since Israel's bombing Sunday of the Lebanese town of Qana, which left at least 54 civilians dead. Hagel said the Israeli campaign was "tearing Lebanon apart," and the resulting civilian casualties and economic damage were weakening the country and bolstering support for Hezbollah, which the U.S. State Department considers a terrorist organization.


Hagel urged the administration to revive the Beirut Declaration of 2002, authored by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, under which Arab countries would have recognized Israel's right to exist. Hagel said that declaration was "a starting point" toward a regional settlement, but the United States "squandered" it.




I would also like to follow your lead & do some editorialising of your words, if I may:
The violence in Lebanonl is spiraling out of control, with the daily carnage getting worse by the minute. It's truly unfathomable what the Olmerteviks have done to destroy this country. It's as if some crackpot, inexperienced, unlicensed surgeon operated on a patient, cut open his chest and stomach, and then left the body with exposed wounds so that disease and rotting can set in and ravage what's left. That's what this criminal administration has done to Lebanon. The Kool-aid drunk Lukid ultra-neo-cons have disemboweld what was a sovereign nation of Lebanon.
See how that works? See how analogous both situations are? See how Neo-con thought is dominant both the US & Israel? How can you criticize Bush in Iraq & not Bush/Olmert in Lebanon? There are none so blind, I suppose. Open your friggin' eyes, Andy!

Anonymous said...

Excuse me for depositing an entire transcript in the comments, but I don't know how many people follow links, & figured it might open some people's "friggin' eyes". The initial part details the horrific results of the bombing, but the bold bits at the bottom are particularly mind's-eye-opening.

Robert Fisk Reports From Lebanon on the Israeli Bombing of Qana That Killed 57, Including 37 Children

Monday, July 31st, 2006

http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/07/31/1435219
Lebanon is marking a national day of mourning, a day after Israeli warplanes bombed the village of Qana killing 57. Israel has announced it will halt air strikes for 48 hours in Southern Lebanon, but its ground troops continue to fight. Robert Fisk was in the nearby city of Tyre, where many of the victims were taken following the attack. He joins us from his home in Beirut. [includes rush transcript]

After the attack, Israel released what appeared to be video footage of Hezbollah rockets being launched from Qana towards towns in northern Israel, and the Israeli military said that Qana had been targeted because Hezbollah had been using the village as a base from which to launch rockets. This is not the first time that Qana has been devastated by Israeli fire. In 1996, more than 106 villagers died after Israel bombed the UN compound where they were seeking refuge. In the aftermath of the strike 10 years ago, reporting by Robert Fisk led to the United Nations condemnation of the attack. Robert Fisk had just returned from Tyre, where the victims from Sunday's Israeli air strike in Qana were taken following the attack.

Robert Fisk.Veteran war correspondent, London Independent, reporting from Beirut.
RUSH TRANSCRIPT
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AMY GOODMAN: Following Israel’s bombing of the town of Qana, that killed nearly 57 people, we turn to veteran war correspondent, Robert Fisk. I reached Robert Fisk early this morning at his home in Beirut. Robert Fisk's reporting in Lebanon led to the United Nations condemnation of the Israeli attack on Qana ten years ago, in 1996. Early this morning, when we reached Robert Fisk, he had just returned from Tyre, where victims from Sunday’s Israeli air strike in Qana were taken, following the attack.

ROBERT FISK: I went to Tyre, Amy. By the time this has happened -- to get from Beirut now to the south takes four to six hours, because of the broken bridges and the bombed roads, and I realized that by the time I got down there, the wounded would have been in the hospitals in Tyre, and the dead would be already brought from Qana to the villages. So when I got there, I went straight to the government hospital in Tyre, where many of the wounded -- and there weren't many, because most of them died -- had been taken and where they were counting the number of children.

When I arrived there, there were a number of, maybe 20, 30 children, the corpses of children, lined up outside the government hospital, hair matted, still in their night clothes. The bomb that killed them was dropped at 1:00 in the morning. And they ran out of plastic bags. They were trying to put the children in plastic bags, their corpses, and they would put on it, you know, “Abbas Mehdi, aged seven,” and so and so, aged one, and use a kind of sticking tape on it. But then they ran out of plastic bags, so they had to put the children's corpses in a kind of cheap carpet that you can buy in the supermarkets, and they roll them up in that and then put their names on again. I was having to go around very carefully and write down, from the Arabic, their names and their ages. It would just say “Abbas Mehdi, aged seven, Qana.”

And, of course, every time I saw the “Qana,” I remember that I was actually in Qana ten years ago when the massacre occurred there then. This is the second massacre in the town whose inhabitants believe that this is the place where Jesus turned water into wine in the Bible, most of whom, 95% of whom, are Christians -- I’m sorry, are Muslims. I think all who died were Muslims. The 5% is Christians who have been there for hundreds of years, their families, because they do believe it is the Biblical Qana. There is a claimant to the rival of Qana in Galilee in northern Israel actually.

The Lebanese soldiers were trying take down the names of all who had died, but I found a man with a clipboard who had taken down 40 names, and he said that they weren't accurate, because some of the children were blown into bits and they couldn't fit them together accurately and there might be -- they couldn't put the right head on the right body, and therefore they might not be able to have an accurate list of the dead. But he was doing his best in the circumstances of war to maintain the bureaucracy of government.

One by one the children's bodies were taken away from the courtyard of the government hospital on the shoulders of soldiers and hospital workers and were put in a big refrigerated truck, very dirty, dusty truck, which had been parked just outside the hospital. The grownups, the adult dead, including twelve women, were taken out later. The children were put in the truck first. Pretty grim. As I said, the children's hair, when you could see the bodies, were matted with dust and mud. And most of them appear to have been bleeding from the nose. I assume that’s because their lungs were crushed by the bomb, and therefore they naturally hemorrhaged as they died.

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Fisk reporting from Beirut. After the attack Sunday, Israel released what appeared to be video footage of Hezbollah rockets being launched from Qana toward towns in northern Israel. I asked Robert Fisk about the footage.

ROBERT FISK: I’ve seen the video footage. It’s impossible to tell from the footage if indeed this is from Qana. You know, you have to realize that last time the massacre occurred at Qana in 1996, when they killed 106 refugees who were sheltering in the then-UN base that was there -- it doesn't exist anymore, but it did then -- more than half of them children, again. They said that missiles had been fired from within the UN base. It turns out that they were fired from half a mile away. They then said that they didn't have a live time pilot-less aircraft over the UN base at the time. And, in fact, on the Independent, I found a UN soldier who did have a videotape, showing clearly at the time of the bombardment -- this is in 1996 -- a live time photo reconnaissance unmanned aircraft over the base. The Israelis were later forced to admit that they had not told the truth: indeed there was a machine over the base at the time. You know, you can do what you want with photo reconnaissance pictures and with photographs after the event. It’s interesting that we weren't shown these pictures before the massacre. We were only shown them after the massacre.

But they may be correct. The Hezbollah are firing missiles from villages in southern Lebanon, just as, for example, when the Israelis entered southern Lebanon and go into places like Bent Jabail, they're using civilian houses as cover for their tanks, so the Hezbollah use houses as cover for their missile launching. But the odd thing is the idea that for the Israeli military that somehow it’s okay to kill all these children; if a missile is launched 30, 90 feet from their house, that's okay then. We’ve got some film to show the missiles were launched; that's okay then. I mean, did the aircraft which dropped this bomb, a guided weapon, by the way -- they knew what they were hitting. It’s a guided weapon. We know that because the computer codes have been found on the bomb fragments. Did they say, “Oh, well, then, the man who launched the missile is hiding with the children in the basement of the house we're going to hit”? Is it the case now that if you happen to live in a house next to where someone launches a missile, you are to be sentenced to death? Is that what Israel thinks the war is about?

I’m sitting here, for example, in my house tonight in darkness -- there’s no electricity -- next to a car park. What if someone launches a missile from the car park? Am I supposed to die for that? Is that a death sentence for me? Is that how Israel wages war? If I have children in the basement, are they to die for that? And then I’m told it’s my fault or it’s Hezbollah's fault? You know, these are serious moral questions.

It’s quite clear from listening to the IDF statement today that they believe that family deserved to die, because 90 feet away, they claim, a missile was fired. So they sentenced all those people to death. Is that what we're supposed to believe? I mean, presumably it is. I can't think of any other reason why they should say, “Well, 30 meters away a missile was fired.” Well, thanks very much. So those little children’s corpses in their plastic packages, all stuck together like giant candies today, this is supposed to be quite normal, this is how war is to be waged by the IDF.

The fact that when they made these comments, they went unchallenged on television, was one of the most extraordinary scenes I’ve seen. I got back from Tyre on a very dangerous overland journey on an open road, which was under air attack, and I got back, and just before the electricity was cut, I saw the BBC reporting what the Israelis had said, but without questioning the morality that if someone fires a missile near your home, therefore it is perfectly okay for you to die.


AMY GOODMAN: We return to our interview with Robert Fisk of the Independent. He has been based in Lebanon for the last 30 years. I spoke to him early this morning, after he had just returned from Tyre. I asked him to respond to Israel's announcement it would suspend air strikes over southern Lebanon for 48 hours.

ROBERT FISK: That would certainly give the United Nations and particularly the International Red Cross the opportunity of getting thousands of people out of the region. But whether you can arrange convoys for thousands of people to leave in that period of time, I don't know. The people who the haven't left are either too frightened to leave, or they’re too poor, or they have no cars, or they’re too elderly or too young. Can the International Committee of the Red Cross with whom I have been traveling for some of the last few days -- does that give them enough time to get people out? Does that mean there will be no shells on the road, or is it just air attacks that are stopping?


You know, it’s very interesting that the Israelis should say now, now after all these days, they're going to give 48 hours. Why didn't they give an extra 48 hours at the beginning to get the people out? Why now? Is this a bonus, a plus point, something you -- a supermarket extra card that you win because you’ve killed so many people? Is it a monopoly board that you're going to gamble? Okay, you get 48 hours free of air attack, because you killed so many people yesterday. Is that what this is supposed to mean?



AMY GOODMAN: In an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, it voted Sunday not for a cessation of hostilities -- the U.S. was opposed to that -- but to deplore what happened in Qana and an end to the violence. I asked Robert Fisk to respond.

ROBERT FISK: John Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has consistently opposed any kind of ceasefire, because he believes, as Mr. Bush does and as our own dear prime minister, Lord Blair, as I call him, does, that the Israelis can accomplish these hopeless political military aims. Well, the Israelis believe that they can actually destroy one of the most disciplined and most ruthless guerrilla armies in the world. They can't, anymore than the Americans could destroy the Vietcong or the North Vietnamese or British could destroy the IRA. And, believe me, the Hezbollah are not as weak and cowardly as the IRA was. But they can't. These are hopeless political aims. All the United Nations is doing by postponing a ceasefire is condemning more Lebanese to death. I wrote in Saturday’s paper, before Qana, that the actions of Blair and Bush, and Bolton by extension, and Condoleezza Rice, were going to condemn more innocents to death.

You know, I went into a hospital in Marjayoun last week, and I saw this very beautiful young woman lying in bed, and her skin had been pitted with very familiar wounds, the little tiny round crimson holes of cluster bomblets. We used cluster bombs in Iraq in 2003. I know exactly what the wounds look like. I identified them at once. Indeed, she described the cluster bombs falling like grapes, as she put it, out of the sky, oddly enough an expression used by an Iraqi woman in 2003 to me. This young woman had been wounded 48 hours before I saw her. Had Bush and Blair insisted on a ceasefire at the beginning, this woman, her skin would not be destroyed in the way it has been.

On the ground, when you're here, when you see the wounded, see the dead, you realize the immorality, the obscenity, the atrocity of statesmen, as they think they are, claiming that, you know, it isn't yet time for a ceasefire. A hasty ceasefire would not be a good thing, as Condoleezza Rice said. 24 hours before, I saw a picture of her on a beach in Malaysia. And people remember this. People remember this. In the hospital it was a young man who said -- turned to me, he said, “Why have you done this to us? Why have you done this to us?” And the woman I was talking to said the same: “Why does the West want to do this to us?”

You know, this has been going on for more than two weeks now. I’m traveling around the south, increasingly outraged at what I see, as a human being. And I’m not a Muslim. I’m not a Muslim. And I keep saying to myself, “If I was a Muslim, how much more outraged might I be?” I turned to an American friend of mine tonight back in Beirut before I came home, and I said, “You know, I’ve been watching this now for more than two weeks, and there's going to be another 9/11.” There’s going to be another 9/11, and then we’re going to hear all the usual claptrap about how it’s good versus evil, and they hate us because we’re good and democratic, and they hate our values, and all the other material that comes out of the rear end of a bull that your president and my prime minister talk.

What’s going on in southern Lebanon is an outrage. It’s an atrocity. The idea that more than 600 civilians must die because three Israeli soldiers were killed and two were captured on the border by the Hezbollah on July 12, my 60th birthday -- I’ve spent 30 years of my life watching this, this filth now, you know -- is outrageous. It’s against all morality to suggest that 600 innocent civilians must die for this. There is no other country in the world that could get away with this.

You know, when -- I wrote in my paper last week, there were times when the IRA would cross from the Irish Republic into northern Ireland to kill British soldiers. And they did murder and kill British soldiers. But we, the British, didn’t hold the Irish government responsible. We didn't send the Royal Air Force to bomb Dublin power stations and Galway and Cork. We didn't send our tanks across the border to shell the hill villages of Cavan or Monaghan or Louth or Donegal. Blair wouldn't dream of doing that, because he believes he's a moral man, he’s a civilized man. He wouldn't treat another nation like that.

But when the Israelis treat Lebanon like that, it's okay, and Blair doesn't want a ceasefire. You can’t have a real ceasefire. In other words, we've got to have the Lebanese on their knees to sign the dotted line, before we give them a ceasefire. And that dotted line means the disarmament of Hezbollah, which will be impossible for the Lebanese to do without restarting the civil war, because to disarm Hezbollah, you must use the army, and most of the Hezbollah are, of course, Shiite Muslims, and most of the army are Shiite Muslims. So you’re going to have brothers assaulting brothers to take their weapons away. It will not happen. However much you may wish it and however much I may wish it, it won't happen. And, again, this double morality: Blair wouldn't dream of attacking the Irish Republic because the IRA crossed the border from Ireland, but it’s quite in order for Israel to attack the Lebanese Republic because the Hezbollah crossed the border from Lebanon.


AMY GOODMAN: Robert Fisk, speaking to us from Beirut, Lebanon. He had just returned from Tyre, where victims of the Qana bombing had been taken. We'll play part two of this interview tomorrow on Democracy Now!

www.democracynow.org

Anonymous said...

The aggression and destruction of Iraq, the criminal bombing of Lebanon, the next aggression to "the states who support terrorism" in the never ending "war on terror", all part of the same criminal plan for imperialist world domination.

Anonymous said...

Now let's be fair. They promised it would stabilize the middle east. They didn't promise it would stabilize it in a pro-American fashion. I believe the Bush administration was completely forthright when they suggested that Iraq would be the model for the middle east.

Anonymous said...

you are an anti-american abortion. Why don't you simply carry an al qaeda, or hezbollah flag? This way, we can better identify you.

Anonymous said...

I just love the post above mine! What is an "anti-American abortion"? My response to the NASCAR-redneck, who is obviously too intellectually-weak to have his own thoughts and views, (he has Sean Hannity for that department) and too cowardly to live a life where he is not constantly submitting to a higher authority, (the Republican Party)is that YOU have not a fuckin' clue about what being an American is all about. Being an American is NOT some dumb fucking yellow ribbon magnet on your F-150. Being an American means you are a citizen of a free and open society. You recognize first and foremost that NO authority, (remember that pesky British king a few hundred years back?) must be blindly submitted to. Above all else, this is a nation of pluralism. Your views and opinions, or those of the "presnit" are NOT the only ones worthy of consideration.

p.s. Join the military!

Anonymous said...

I just love the post above mine! My response to the bigot who calls people with differing political opinions "NASCAR-Rednecks" is that we live in a free and open society. If you are too intellectually weak to respond to someone without calling them baseless and stereotypical names to win an argument, you might want to take an opportunity to be quiet long enough to allow an intellectual to respond.

p.s. Did you join our all-volunteer military after 9/11? I only ask because you seem to imply that your political counterparts should be the only ones defending our nation.

Anonymous said...

5:07 Anonymous is so stupid he doesn't realize that calling another an "anti-american abortion." is name-calling. Albeit, stupid, meaningless name-calling.

Therefore, we know who's back.

You newcomers to this site don't know about the virulent pest that has no reasoning ability but keeps hammering away with idiotic remarks about Democrats.

The Ostroy Report said...

Anonymous said: "Andy, so glad that you picked up on Chuck's remarks, as I thought they too were very brave & prescient. However, you failed to reveal all of Hagel's words, which can be found here on CNN, for instance, where it's clear that he is also rebuking Bush for his stance on Israel's criminal aggression against Lebanon. Funny how you edited that out, eh?"

Sorry Anon, but the piece was about Iraq, not Israel. Hagel also was also made statements this week about the minimum wage bill. That doesn't belong in my piece either.
Andy

Anonymous said...

Ostroy -- As I read your Iraq article I, myself, couldn't help but think of the Israeli/Hezballoh "war." and saw the wisdom in Anonymous's response. What I don't understand is your rsponse to him. Like "apples and oranges" are both fruit, Iraq and Israel/Lebanon are both "wars" and definitely related. And even if you don't agree with that, you could have responded to his comments. We are not in formal debates, you know, or this blog would have been disqualified months ago.

Larry said...

Anonymous 6:56 PM,
I'm not the one calling people "anti american abortions". I did respond to the bigot who called the 12:41 poster a "nascar redneck". Clearly, you should try obtaining some facts before you make baseless assumptions.

As far as me being a pest with no reasoning ability, I would love to have a fact-only debate with people on this blog. Unfortunately, when I use facts, I'm attacked as a neocon, redneck, koolaid drinker, or whatever liberal buzz words are popular at that time.

Anonymous said...

Not to forget the only Bush reactions of sh** and paw.

V said...

"the piece was about Iraq, not Israel."

You know, Michael, I have your blog bookmarked and I generally respect your opinions, but that is a statement of astounding stupidity.

Even if you don't ascribe to the notion of Israel as a Bad Actor In Iraq, Israel certainly factors in both before the invasion and now, in acting as a "consultant" on many matters of security and "interrogation techniques" for the United States. And Iraq is certainly weighing in on Israel as if it matters, both in the corridors of the so-called the Iraqi government and on the street.

Please don't be that stupid in print.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god, you are blind! I guess that you didn't even read the CNN article that I included in my last comment to your one-sided nonsense. Hagel refers to both Lebanon & Isreal, as well as Beirut! So let me include the article once again, trimmed down with the relevent paragraphs emboldened so that maybe even you can see it. And I'm sure similar coverage can be found on many a news site. You might be able to pull the wool over your own eyes, but not all of ours. You can certainly spin with the best of them, Andy. I've lost all respect for you now. There are indeed none so blind...

http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/07/31/hagel.mideast/index.html

Key Republican breaks with Bush on Mideast
Nebraska's Sen. Hagel calls for immediate cease-fire

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Urging President Bush to turn all U.S. efforts toward "ending this madness," a leading Republican senator Monday broke with the Bush administration and called for an immediate cease-fire in the Mideast.

"The sickening slaughter on both sides must end and it must end now," Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel said. "President Bush must call for an immediate cease-fire. This madness must stop."

The Bush administration has refused to call for Israel to halt its attacks on southern Lebanon, joining Israel in insisting that Hezbollah fighters must be pushed back from the Israeli-Lebanese border.

Hagel said that refusal threatens to isolate the United States and Israel and harm chances of achieving a long-term peace in the region.

"How do we realistically believe that a continuation of the systematic destruction of an American friend -- the country and people of Lebanon -- is going to enhance America's image and give us the trust and credibility to lead a lasting and sustained peace effort in the Middle East?" asked Hagel, the No. 2 Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"Our relationship with Israel is special and historic," he said. "But it need not and cannot be at the expense of our Arab and Muslim relationships. That is an irresponsible and dangerous false choice."

Like his frequent ally, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Hagel is a possible GOP presidential candidate in 2008 and has been critical of the administration's handling of Iraq. But few members of Congress have broken ranks with the president over his handling of the Israel-Hezbollah conflict.

Calls for an end to the 20-day conflict have increased since Israel's bombing Sunday of the Lebanese town of Qana, which left at least 54 civilians dead. Hagel said the Israeli campaign was "tearing Lebanon apart," and the resulting civilian casualties and economic damage were weakening the country and bolstering support for Hezbollah, which the U.S. State Department considers a terrorist organization.

Hagel urged the administration to revive the Beirut Declaration of 2002, authored by Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, under which Arab countries would have recognized Israel's right to exist. Hagel said that declaration was "a starting point" toward a regional settlement, but the United States "squandered" it.