With chaos threatening to engulf Lebanon, the need to resolve the conflict in the Middle East has rarely seemed so urgent. The Op-Ed editors went to seven experts with experience in the region, asking each of them what should be the first step toward defusing the crisis....
The Bush administration should give up war and rhetoric and do some meaningful diplomacy instead.
Hamas and Hezbollah, supported by Iran and Syria, have opened a new diplomatic front for the United States. President Bush should undertake a robust diplomatic initiative that, directly or through third parties, engages not only states, including even Iran and Syria, but also non-state parties to the conflict, especially Hezbollah and Hamas. Both are political parties and social welfare organizations, but their lethal military wings must be disbanded. Without engaging Hezbollah and Hamas, any diplomatic effort to end the violence permanently will fail.
Such an American diplomatic campaign would be enthusiastically supported by the international community and the Arab states. Talks should focus on difficult but achievable goals: to rebuild Lebanon physically and politically and to revive the detailed peace plan already negotiated by the parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and supported by a majority on both sides. From the blood and destruction in every Middle East crisis arises an historic moment for peacemaking. The president has made war; can he now make peace?
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