By Tony Karon
"By measure of each man’s negligible influence over events in the Middle East — despite florid denunciations of all compromise and accomodation with those each brands as evil — President George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden appear to have more in common than either would care to admit. And not just because Bush and Bin Laden are on the same page regarding the influence of Iran.
Lebanon is but the latest example of how events passing both men by. The agreement that ends the 18-month political standoff there is a stunning victory for Hizballah, and for the politics of accomodation rather than the binary good vs. evil strategy pressed on the Lebanese government by its U.S. sponsor. Indeed, it seals the collapse of the Bush Administration’s strategy there, which became obvious two weeks ago when the U.S.-backed ruling alliance was trounced on the street. Hizballah was never trying to take control of the country, it was simply ensuring that it maintained its military capacity to fight the Israelis and maintain its role as a regional player in concert with Iran and Syria. Which is exactly what the U.S. and its allies, from Saudi Arabia to Israel (and, of course, Bin Laden), have spent the past two years trying stop.......
But everyone in the region knows that the Bush Administration, with its surfeit of megaphone indignation and aversion to serious diplomacy, has nothing concrete to offer them — so they’re getting on with things on their own. Robin Wright makes the same point, noting that the Lebanon deal and the Syria-Israel talks “were launched without an American role, and both counter U.S. strategy in the region.”