Bolton defends Israel’s war
WASHINGTON – Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton on Thursday defended Israel’s war with Hezbollah militia in Lebanon last summer as legitimate and one that had the support of several Arab countries as well as the United States.”We did not try and shape Israel’s strategic objective, but we would not have opposed Israel’s decision to eliminate Hezbollah,” Bolton told The Associated Press.”We thought Israel was exercising its legitimate right of self-determination,” he said. “We did not have a full idea what Israel’s objectives might be and how it might play out.”The 34-day war ended in August 2006 by a U.N. cease-fire resolution. The fighting was touched off by Hezbollah’s slaying of three Israeli soldiers and capture of two others, who are still held. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week criticized Israel and Lebanon as violating terms of the cease-fire.Israel destroyed a significant part of Hezbollah’s capacity in the war, but in the aftermath, a U.N. arms embargo has not been enforced and Hezbollah has been able to rearm, Bolton said.”I don’t think we achieved what we wanted to achieve, moving the situation in the region to a significantly different place,” he said.In the interview, Bolton, who is now a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said Israel was acting in self-defense and “we wanted to give them their opportunity to do so.”Hezbollah’s possession of weapons – from Iran channeled through Syria, according to the Bush administration – “was a threat to Israel and to the government of Lebanon and made operational by repeated attacks,” he said.”It would have been in Israel’s legitimate interest to carry the military action against Hezbollah to victory,” Bolton said.In fact, Bolton said, “Many of the Arab states did give private support to Israel. People feared Hezbollah was an instrument of Iran. Many of the Arab states feared Hezbollah, and Syria had become the instrument of Iran.”
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