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Week of 7.21.06

George Mitchell on the Middle East Crisis

[For video of this interview see this week's About the Show page]

As violence continues in Israel and Lebanon with no clear end in sight, NOW's David Brancaccio talks to George Mitchell, the former U.S. Senate Majority Leader, about what America can do to help resolve the crisis.

"It will require a lot of patience and perseverance, but I believe it can happen ...You have to try to identify what the self-interest is of each group and see if common ground can be found," Mitchell said.

Photo of girl looking into bomb crater Mitchell has seen his share of war and peace. He has brokered ceasefires and peace agreements in hotspots such as the Balkans and Northern Ireland, and served as President Clinton’s special envoy to the Middle East.

In terms of policy in the Middle East, Mitchell believes Western countries, including the U.S., make the mistake of lumping groups together and labeling them as terrorists.

"Some of the groups that use terror have coherent political objectives, can be discussed and dealt with. Others cannot be," he said.

Mitchell goes on to call for the disarming of Hezbollah and describes how the Bush Administration's relationship with countries like Iran and Syria could affect how the crisis is resolved.

More from this week's program: Timeline: Middle East Crisis