By Jim Lobe
"Seeing a major opportunity to regain influence lost as a result of setbacks in Iraq, prominent neo-conservatives are calling for unconditional US support for Israel's military offensives in Gaza and Lebanon and "regime change" in Syria and Iran, as well as possible US attacks on Tehran's nuclear facilities in retaliation for its support of Hezbollah.
In a Weekly Standard column titled "Our war", editor William Kristol called Iran "the prime mover behind the terrorist groups who have started this war", which, he argued, should be considered part of "the global struggle against radical Islamism".
"This is our war, too," said Kristol, who was also a founder and co-chairman of the recently lapsed Project for the New American Century (PNAC).
The effort to frame the current round of violence as part of a much larger struggle - and Israel's role as Washington's most loyal front-line ally - recalls the neo-conservatives' early reaction to the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
While the Iraqi and Palestinian components of PNAC's agenda were soon adopted as policy and in essence achieved, neo-conservative hopes that Bush would move on Hezbollah - as well as Syria and Iran - eventually stalled as US military forces became bogged down in an increasingly bloody and costly counter-insurgency war in Iraq.
In another article for the National Review on Monday, bluntly titled "Eradication first", Rubin elaborated on that theme, arguing that diplomacy in the current crisis will only be successful "if it commences both after the eradication of Hezbollah and Hamas, and after their paymasters pay a terrible cost for their support. If ... peace is the aim, it is imperative to punish the Syrian and Iranian leadership," he wrote. Above all, according to the neo-conservatives, the US position in the region is now inextricably tied to the success or failure of Israel's military campaign. "