Examining the U.S. Role in the Mideast Crisis Israel and Hezbollah trade attacks across the Lebanese border, as international pressure to end the conflict grows. Secretary of State Rice is expected in the region soon; reportedly, her trip has been delayed to give the Israeli military another week to try to crush Hezbollah. Neal Conan and guests discuss the crisis in the Middle East and what the United States should do.
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Examining the U.S. Role in the Mideast Crisis

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Examining the U.S. Role in the Mideast Crisis

Examining the U.S. Role in the Mideast Crisis

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This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice heads to New York today to meet with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and members of the U.N. mission that took what were described as concrete ideas to both Lebanon and Israel earlier this week. Earlier today, the secretary general told the Security Council that hostilities must stop, but he conceded this will not be easy. There are serious obstacles Annan said, to reaching a cease-fire, or even to diminishing the violence quickly.

So far, the Bush administration has not joined calls for a cease-fire. Israel, the president said, has the right to defend itself. And on Tuesday, Secretary Rice said that any cease-fire should be of lasting value. The U.S. position is widely interpreted as a green light to Israel to continue military operations.

Here in Washington, the House of Representatives today - and the Senate on Tuesday - approved non binding resolutions that support Israel, condemn Hezbollah, and say that Syria and Iran should be held accountable for providing the group with weapons and money. Secretary Rice is expected to visit the region as early as next week, but it's not yet clear who she might meet with.

Later in the program, director M. Night Shyamalan joins us. His new movie, Lady in the Water, comes out tomorrow. But first, what should the U.S. do to try to resolve the crisis in the Middle East? Is it time to support a cease-fire? On what basis? Even though casualties mount on both sides, should Washington defend Israel's efforts to defeat Hezbollah? What about the idea of a strong international force for Lebanon? What should be the goal of U.S. policy?

Our number here in Washington is 800-989-8255. That's 800-989-talk. The e-mail address is talk@npr.org.

Dan Senor is best known as former spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. He's now the head of Senor Strategies here in Washington, and he joins us here in Studio Three A.

Nice to have you back on TALK OF THE NATION.

Mr. DAN SENOR (Former Spokesman, Coalition Provisional Authority; Founder, Senor Strategies): Good to be with you.

CONAN: Is it time for a cease-fire?

Mr. SENOR: It depends what a cease-fire would accomplish. Would it really look like a cease-fire? I mean, I think the priorities right now - every policy option that the administration here is considering, what Israel is considering, what the United Nations is considering, what the EU is considering - should ask the following questions: what will it do to allow Israel to restore its deterrent capability along the northern border or the southern Lebanon to prevent Hezbollah from reeking havoc in Israel?

Two: what will it do in the long run to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb? At the end of the day, Iran - via Syria - is at the root of much of the chaos, and the violence, that Hezbollah has been stoking over the last 10 days. And part of what is motivating Iran is the desire to change the subject. Change the channel from the international community's pressure on Iran to slow down or stop its enrichment program - of its uranium, prevent its nuclear program. And what are doing with regards to that? If we can't answer those two questions, a cease-fire, or international engagement, or sending envoys is quite meaningless.

CONAN: And what about the idea of an international force for Lebanon?

Mr. SENOR: You know, there's one major concern with an international force, what happens when Hezbollah - if it doesn't comply with any sort of cease-fire agreement - what happens when Hezbollah launches more Katyusha into Israel and Israel's forced to respond? What is the role of the international force? Is the role of the international force to risk the lives of the members of the international force to fight against Hezbollah? Or is the role of the international force to prevent Israel from responding to Hezbollah? What if Israel decides at a later date that it has to restore even further deterrent capability? Will the international force stand in the way of that?

And I'm deeply worried about international - lives of members of an international force being put in jeopardy in order to resolve this crisis here. I think the bigger question is Security Council Resolution 1559, which is quite explicit: Lebanon's army must, basically, man itself along Lebanon's southern border there to help protect against infiltrations from Hezbollah into Israel, and protect against attacks into Israel.

CONAN: Let's bring another voice into the conversation. Joseph Nye joins us now. He's former Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration, author of Soft Power: The Means To Success in World Politics. He is now the dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. And he joins us from North Sandwich in New Hampshire.

Nice of you to take time out from your work to join us on the program today.

Professor JOSEPH NYE (Former Assistant Secretary of Defense; Dean, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University): Nice to be with you.

CONAN: And is it time for a cease-fire?

Prof. NYE: Yes, I think so. I mean, you can understand that Israel needed to reply with force to - partly, to degrade the capability of Hezbollah to attack Israel with rockets, and partly to set the deterrent level back at a rate that makes people think twice before they attack. I think it's now gone to stage where you're killing enough innocent children that you're beginning to radicalize the moderates, and that's not in Israel's interest or in our interest in the long run. So I think the answer is yes.

CONAN: And what are the goals of - what should the goals of U.S. policy be? What are the priorities?

Prof. NYE: Well, I think the United States has got to get a framework which prevents this from recurring again. And I believe that's going to require a new attitude towards Syria. I agree that Iran has been a good part of the problem here. Iran can't into the area except through Syria. By our isolation of Syria - pretending that we could bring democracy and regime change to Syria - what we did was essentially push Syria and Iran together. What we need to do is find -try to find a deal with Syria where they begin to control Hezbollah and act more responsibly. That's going to require us to give up the illusion that we can bring about regime change in Syria, and to go back to old-fashioned, realistic diplomacy.

CONAN: Some say - some would say that that would reward Syria for its role in this, that Damascus again would be the power broker not only regionally, but specifically in Lebanon.

Mr. SENOR: Actually, that's absolutely right. Look, they're - Syria wants one thing. They want to restore their own presence inside Lebanon. And they -everything they're doing now is a means to stoking chaos inside Lebanon so that the Lebanese say, wow, things were certainly quieter here during the some 30-year occupation of Lebanon by Syria. Let's bring the Syrian forces back. That's what Bashar Assad wants.

But we have a case study in what motivates Bashar Assad's behavior. And that is in February of 2005, after Rafik Hariri - then the leader of Lebanon - was assassinated. Bashar Assad had a choice. There was a revolution in the streets of Beirut, what they called the Beirut Spring - the Cedar Revolution. And everyone expected Assad's forces to come into Beirut and crush that uprising. He didn't. Why?

When you speak to Syrians and you speak to Lebanese, they say the number one factor is at that time, America was being assertive in the world - was being assertive in the Middle East, had a little bit of momentum, and Assad was not feeling very emboldened. There was pressure. The U.N. was putting pressure on Assad. There was an investigation around the key officials surrounding Assad.

And I think now, if we start to engage Assad, it will send exactly the wrong message. He will feel emboldened. And I think he will start to be more bellicose, not less.

CONAN: Joseph Nye.

Prof. NYE: Well, the - you know, foreign policy is oft the choice between lesser evils. Nobody has a brief for Assad, and there are some down sides in dealing with him. But they're less bad than the efforts to try to push Syria and Iran into each other's arms and provide a back door for Hezbollah. I think it's essential - Tom Friedman made this point in yesterday's New York Times -that if you really look for a diplomatic key to this, not a U.N. resolution or the creation of an international force - it's going to have some diplomatic force behind it. And the key to that diplomacy is Syria.

CONAN: Mm hmm.

Prof. NYE: In foreign policy, you have to give up the illusions of some of the neo-conservatives, and realize that the realists have it right. For years, we've dealt with Syria. We never liked them, but they were an essential piece of the puzzle.

CONAN: And what about your thoughts on this idea of an international force for southern Lebanon?

Prof. NYE: Well, I think you're going to need some sort of a force. I think the Israelis are probably right that it can't be just Ghanians and Bangladeshis. It's going to have to have some larger power troops involved. It's probably going to have a terms of engagement, which is going to be more than just standing by observing. But a force won't do any good until you've got some wheel of major players - would include Syria - behind the scenes to make sure the thing is stabilized.

CONAN: Would an international force be empowered to, for example, set up checks to make sure that on all the entry points from Syria into Lebanon, that arms aren't being smuggled to Hezbollah?

Prof. NYE: That seems to be a useful part of what they could do.

Mr. SENOR: I would just respond with regard to my friends in the realist, quote/unquote, community. Years and years of engagement with Syria has not brought us any real progress. I mean, Warren Christopher of the Clinton administration went to great lengths to try to broker some kind of Syrian-Israeli peace deal. The Syrians - ultimately, the Assads - were never quite serious about that. And actually, during that time, they were increasing - not decreased - for Hezbollah. They were increasing, not decreasing their weapon supplies for Hezbollah. So the notion that reaching out to Syria and doing all sorts of diplomatic visits to Damascus is going to bring Assad into our camp -which is a quote/unquote, the realist approach - has actually done the exact opposite.

CONAN: We could debate this, but anyway, let's get some listeners involved in the conversation. 800-989-8255 if you'd like to join us. 800-989—989-TALK. Our e-mail is talk@npr.org. And we'll begin with David. David's calling us from Wynnewood, Pennsylvania.

DAVID (Caller): Yes. I'm very skeptical about the value of any involvement of international institutions in this. I have two points I'd like your guests to discuss. One is - my understanding is that the Lebanese prime minister, at the beginning of this year, specifically exempted Hezbollah from the requirement to disarm and to be replaced by the Lebanese army. There was some kind of verbal stratagem that he used, but basically, he gave Hezbollah a pass on this. My second point I would like discussed is - how was it that this huge arming of the Hezbollah with these - apparently, tens of thousands of missiles has taken place in the so-called context of peace of the last several years. I'm really surprised that the Israeli army and the Israeli government permitted it to happened, but also that the American government did, particularly when we were in the midst of this war on terrorism.

CONAN: The number I've heard is about 12,000 total of these artillery missiles, not tens of thousands. But anyway, Dan Senor.

Mr. SENOR: On that second point, I think there was an approach, an attitude - albeit perhaps naïve or disconnected from reality - was that as Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon, the pretext for Hezbollah's existence to fight the Israeli occupation would be removed, and therefore, we really wouldn't have to worry about the threat from Hezbollah. And actually, that's not true. Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon and the violence still continues from Hezbollah. Has continued despite and end to that occupation. On the first point - I think the point that David is raising is one where the U.S. government deserves some of the blame. Yes, the Lebanese government has - whether it's been explicit, we don't know - I don't know at least - explicitly exempted Hezbollah from disarming. I don't know that. All I know is this. There are two members of Hezbollah that occupy ministries in the current Lebanese government. Hezbollah has been very strong in Lebanon and Lebanon politics for some time now in an official sense, and the Lebanese government has done very little to wind down Hezbollah's security role.

CONAN: David, thanks for the call. We'll hear from Joseph Nye about his thoughts on your question when we get back from the short break. We just heard from Dan Senor. We're talking about what the U.S. should do to try to end the crisis in the Middle East. We're taking your calls. 800-989-8255. 800-989-TALK. E-mail us, talk@npr.org. I'm Neal Conan. We'll be back after the break. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Israeli soldiers engaged Hezbollah near the Lebanese border today, the ninth day of fighting between the two sides. Earlier this week, NPR News hosted special coverage exploring the crisis in the Middle East. If you missed that conversation, you can download it now at our Web site at npr.org. Today, our focus is what the U.S. should do to try to help end the current crisis in the Middle East. Our guests are Joseph Nye. He was assistant secretary of defense in the Clinton administration and is the author of Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics. Also with us, Dan Senor, former spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad.

Of course, you're invited to join us. What should the U.S. do in this situation? Is it time to support a cease-fire? Should Washington defend Israeli efforts to crush Hezbollah? Give us a call. 800-989-8255. 800-989-TALK. E-mail us, talk@npr.org. And Dan Senor, just before the break, there were questions about the Lebanese government and I wanted you to answer it, but in the context of should preservation of the Lebanese government be a goal of U.S. policy at this point?

Mr. SENOR: Absolutely. We have - effectively - a democratically elected government in Lebanon. They seem to be a more moderate player in the region as far as U.S. interests are concerned. And we have an interest in preserving them. No doubt. Do we have an interest in preserving them at all costs? No. Should we preserve them while taking the eye off Iran's development of a nuclear bomb? No. But they are an ally, they are moderate, and they are a democracy.

CONAN: Joseph Nye?

Prof. NYE: We have an interest in the Lebanese government for, the reasons that Senor just gave. But I'd like to go back to the caller's question about the role of international institutions and presence. U.N. resolutions like 1559 and peacekeeping forces can help only if the underlying political bargains between the states is effective. In other words, the U.N. has no power in itself other than what the states have. Until you get that political bargain, you can have resolutions like 1559 and observer groups like UNIFIL, and they do no good at all. So the key question is what kinds of political bargains are we going to strike behind the scenes, including with some of the key players who we don't particularly like? Then we can add to that a U.N. presence which can be effective. But without that, just to say let's internationalize this conflict -let's put Kofi Annan and the U.N. in - isn't going to work.

CONAN: Mm hmm. When you say talking to players that we might not necessarily like - some of these people are listed by the state department as terrorist organizations or states that sponsor terrorism…

Prof. NYE: No, I'm talking about states. In particular, Syria. I think we try to break the axis between Syria and Iran and try to get Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan - which have an interest in not letting this metastasize - to try to bring Syria back in the mainstream Arab fold instead of having this policy which we've had for the last two years, which is to throw Arab Syria into the arms of Persia, Shia Iran.

CONAN: Mm. E-mail question from Phil in Susanville, California.

I fail to understand how the Bush administration seems unwilling to ask for an immediate cease fire - or at least to put pressure on the Israelis to limit their attack on Hezbollah in the south of Lebanon - when the administration made such a big deal out of Lebanon being an example of democracy in the Middle East. What does the rhetoric about democracy really mean? It seems the U.S. government is not doing anything to strengthen - and indeed is weakening - the Lebanese government.

Mr. SENOR: You know, it's a very difficulty issue that the administration has got to be dealing with right now. One that I'm frustrated by. The fact is, Hezbollah has successfully penetrated a lot of civilian neighborhoods throughout southern Lebanon - throughout Beirut - where they store and launch weapons into Israel. And it is in their headquarters and operational planning strongholds are in a number of these civilian areas. And if Israel is serious and we're serious about letting Israel confront Hezbollah, it means, unfortunately, going into these civilian areas where civilians get killed.

This is not an easy call. I would not want to be in the shoes of the Israeli commanders that have to make these decisions. The tension, though, is to just say we need to avoid civilian casualties. Therefore, we're going to ignore the threat, which will only encourage not only Hezbollah, but it will encourage terrorist organizations throughout the region to do just that. They figure out if they put their weapons in civilian areas, no one will ever respond. No one will ever confront them, and that is a recipe for disaster.

CONAN: Let me ask Joseph Nye. Does this not risk - continuing these operations with these civilian casualties - does this not risk alienating moderates in Lebanon who are now becoming - Hezbollah's becoming increasingly popular. I don't think there's any doubt about that.

Prof. NYE: That's the great irony of this is that the more civilians you kill -particularly children who get their pictures on television - the more you recruit for Hezbollah and for al-Qaida. In the long run, you have to use hard power against some of these terrorists, but if you forget the soft power of attraction and attracting the moderates, you're going to lose. And that, I think, is the great danger. Israel needed to reply with force to set the threshold of deterrence back, but the question you have to ask - or Israel has to ask itself is - how many children do you kill in terms of recruiting new Hezbollah participants and losing moderates before you realize that you've overdone it? And I think that's where they are now.

Mr. SENOR: I agree partly with what Mr. Nye is saying. And I agree killing civilians does radicalize moderates, but so does showing a soft hand and showing that the radicals - like Hezbollah - have momentum. That radicalizes moderates, too, in the Arab-Muslim world. I saw this firsthand in Iraq. When the insurgency has momentum and looks like it can attack with impunity, the moderates begin to bet on the insurgency and say well, at least they're reliable. At least they have the upper hand. The Americans or the Israelis or whoever it may be look weak, I should bet on the extremists. And so, this dilemma, this scenario that Mr. Nye is describing actually cuts both ways, unfortunately.

CONAN: All right. Let's get another caller in. This is Hugh. Hugh's calling us there from the Jersey Turnpike.

HUGH (Caller): Yeah, hi. Thanks. Both of your guests are very intelligent and it's a real pleasure to hear them. The question I have is this: what in the track record of U.N. operations - U.N. peacekeeping - leaves anyone to conclude that they can be effective in being a buffer or useful in this conflict?

CONAN: Joseph Nye?

Prof. NYE: Well, the U.N. peacekeeping operations will not be effective unless there's an underlying political deal. I mean, after all, there is a peacekeeping force there now. The observer group in Lebanon, UNIFIL, and - in fact, I think a Guinean soldier from that group was killed just the other day. So they are not effective unless you have an underlying agreement - a political bargain - which is based on realist interests in which they'd say we can't let this get out of control. We can't get it out of hand. Then you can find that international forces can have a role once you have that kind of underlying diplomatic effective strategy among states. But the idea that Kofi Annan can go in there and send a group of people in blue helmets from small countries and in itself stop the violence, that's just not going to happen.

CONAN: Hugh, thanks very much for the call. Let's talk now with Roger. Roger's calling us from Del Ray Beach in Florida.

ROGER (Caller): Yes. I just wanted to say that I think it's - and this is coming from a person who's Jewish - that I think Israel has brought all of this on themselves. They are an over militarized, over funded power that just does whatever they want. And I don't think that the Palestinian issue has ever been really fleshed out in the media here at all…

CONAN: Mm hmm.

ROGER: And I think if people understood what the Palestinians have gone through since 1948 with their own country being carved up without their permission by colonial powers - that the same colonial powers have created the situations in Iraq and Iran. And this is why we have the kind of enemies we have today.

CONAN: Roger brings up a good point. We're ignoring the idea that there are also operations underway in Gaza at the moment, and of course, the situation on the west bank remains - well, unresolved. Can there be a solution to one problem without a solution to the other problem? Dan Senor.

Mr. SENOR: I think they're disconnected. I think U.S. policy's been driven over the years by the notion they are connected, but take a look at something here. Israel was told for years that you are subjected to Palestinian violence. The Palestinian violence is justified because of the hell that they have lived under, which Roger describes quite well. They have lived under hell, and there's been some resistance and violence - certainly brutal violence against Israelis - and the message has been if Israel withdraws from the occupied territories, the violence will end. In 1990 - in the late ‘90s, Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon where Hezbollah has launched attacks from. Just last year, Israel withdrew from the Gaza strip where an Israeli soldier was kidnapped from the other day and Hamas has taken over. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is planning to withdraw from the West Bank and what these terrorist operations have resulted…

Mr. NYE: Parts of the West Bank.

Mr. SENOR: Parts of the West Bank - have resulted that being halted. Not sped up. It's been halted. There's no way the Israeli government now, can go to the Israeli people and say we're going to continue with withdrawal from parts of the West Bank when the two areas they have withdrawn from have been the source of violence against Israelis.

You know, it's like the former Clinton administration and former Bush - George H.W. Bush's Middle East Coordinator, Dennis Ross said - the line used be, was about, land for peace. And what the Israelis are learning is that the predicate is, land for war.

CONAN: Joseph Nye, what's the connection between these two situations?

Mr. NYE: Well, I think what we've learned from these recent events, is that unilateral withdrawal is not sufficient. You have to strike a bargain in which is a political will on the other side to hold to the bargain. The Sheron/Olmert strategy has been to unilaterally withdraw, build a fence, and ignore the Palestinians - essentially to impose the peace that they want, along the lines they want.

That's not going to work. I mean, what you have to have is something where somebody on the other side of that line is willing to prevent people from launching rockets. I think that's a sad story of what we've seen.

CONAN: Roger, go ahead.

ROGER: Yeah, thank you. You know, this is typical also, of what goes on today in discussing this problem. The description that he just gave of a fence makes it seems like such an innocuous thing. You know, like it's just some little fence. They built a huge wall. Cut through farms of the Palestinians. I mean, they just bulldozed their way through.

Now the fact that the media could describe something like that as a fence, is typical of the kind of reporting that we get here on this situation. When it deals with, you know - when it's the Israeli situation, whatever, you know, happens with them is a different story. If it's the Palestinians, they're the big troublemakers. You know, but I mean, there…

Mr. NYE: Yeah. Well, I actually am struck…

ROGER: That anybody could describe that wall as a fence is absurd.

Mr. NYE: I am struck, in terms of the media coverage - there's been so much emphasis put on the proportionality of Israel's response. You hear many in the media and foreign leaders, saying Israel's response is disproportionate. I'm always amused to hear that when our government, the U.S. government, because of a brutal terrorist attack on our own country one September morning, decided to wage two wars in two foreign countries halfway around the world, which involved removing those governments from existence.

When you look at what happened with what Putin did in Groznyy and Chechnya to respond to the - what he regarded as the terrorist threat there. If you want to talk about a disproportionate force, I think those examples are relevant and certainly analogous.

CONAN: Alright. Roger, we're going to have to move on.

ROGER: Why do bring up the two countries again? Why do you bring up Iraq and 9/11? There is no connection there.

Mr. NYE: I wasn't suggesting there was.

ROGER: Oh, I'm sorry.

CONAN: Roger, thanks very much for the call. We appreciate it.

We're talking today about what the U.S. should do in this situation in the Middle East. Is it time for a ceasefire? Is it time to work toward what end, what policy goals should there be?

Our guests are Joseph Nye, the author of Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics, and former dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. And Dan Senor, former spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad, and the founder and head of Senor Associates.

You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And let's bring Mike on the line. Mike calling from San Francisco.

MICHAEL (Caller): Hi there.


MICHAEL: Can you hear me?

CONAN: Yes. You're on the air. Go ahead please.

MICHAEL: Okay, great. You know, I would totally support what your previous caller Roger said, kind of as a long time Middle East observer and visitor, and half-Jew, half-Christian Arab. I think what Mr. Senor is saying - almost everything, I think - has been completely fallacious about this.

And they don't mention that, part of the problem with Hezbollah's situation is that after the Israeli withdrawal - which came after years of bloody punishment of Shiites in southern Lebanon, as well as the Palestinians - that the Israelis never lived up to their end of the bargain in terms of providing the maps to the minefields that they laid, which continued to cause maiming and injuring in the population to the…

CONAN: Mike, we're running out of time. I really want to get off history and go to the future.

MICHAEL: …their violation of 66 UN resolutions, not just one. So I think if we were, the U.S. was more balanced then we wouldn't have so much hate against us in the Middle East.

CONAN: And what would balance be in this situation, Mike?

MICHAEL: I think the balance, Noel, would be if we went in and set up some kind of humanitarian system to stop the murder of the innocent people in Lebanon. And then set up a way to get the Israelis to live up to their end of the bargain on the UN resolutions, then we would win some points.

CONAN: Alright. Mike, thanks very much for the call.

MICHAEL: Thank you.

CONAN: Dan Senor?

Mr. SENOR: Yeah. Two things: one, I am all for humanitarian assistance for the Palestinians. I supported Jim Wolfensohn, the former president of the World Bank, in his initiative, after Israel withdrew from Gaza, to rally the international community.

I think Mike needs to directions to the Persian Gulf, to the Arab region, the Arab Muslim world that is awash in oil dollars, helped, partly financed provided by us. Huge surpluses that they could be using to help build up their brethren, their fellow Palestinians, which - the Palestinian community - which they spend virtually nothing on. That's the first point.

The second point is this idea of balance and the U.S. government has been just too close to Israel. I would just say three points. One, it was President Jimmy Carter who went - used - expended enormous political currency to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Manachem Begin, back in the late 70s, to cut a deal with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to withdraw from the Sinai, piece of land three times the size of Israel.

Two, it was President Clinton in the 1990s who put enormous pressure on the Israeli government at Camp David, again, to cut a deal. It involved re-dividing Jerusalem. The United States has gone to wars in the Middle East, not to protect Israel. The two countries they've actually gone to war to protect, where Americans have been killed, have been Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

So the idea that the U.S. has been too, you know, too biased an unbalanced in its support of Israel, I think is disconnected from the great currency America has expended, politically, militarily and economically, for the Palestinians in broader Arab world.

CONAN: We have just a few seconds left. Joseph Nye, if you could just give us two or three quick points that you think ought to be priorities as we think about this in the coming days.

Mr. NYE: Well, as we look ahead, we got to ask, how do we get back to a bargain on both sides of the wall, fence, whatever you want to call it. You cannot go along the lines of unilateralism. You cannot, on the other hand, turn this over to the UN. You're going to have to get a realist diplomacy underneath it, probably involving Syria, which creates incentives to make an international force effective.

And until the Bush administration begins to work on that, we're going to be in deep trouble.

CONAN: And Dan Senor, a couple of priorities to keep in mind over the coming days?

Mr. SENOR: It is in everybody's national interest - the Lebanese, the Israelis and the Americans, and the broader Muslim world - for Hezbollah to be weakened, if not eliminated, even tragically if involves continued war. And we need to keep an eye, a focused eye on Iran's focus in developing a nuclear weapon. That is what is at the root at this.

CONAN: Thank you both very much. Dan Senor, who joined us today, is the head and founder of Senor Strategies here in Washington, D.C. Joseph Nye's book is Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics, and he joined us on the phone from New Hampshire.

Very good of you to be us with today.

Mr. NYE: Nice to be with you.

Mr. SENOR: Good to be with you. Good to be with you, Joe.

CONAN: When we come back from a short break, Director M. Night Shyamalan. You have questions about his new movie, Lady in the Water? Give us a call, 800-989-8255.

I'm Neal Conan. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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