Some of thousands of supporters of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, seen on posters, walk during his funeral procession in Beirut, Lebanon, February 16, 2005. Hariri was assassinated in a car bomb attack Monday. In foreground are Sunni Muslim clerics.(AP Photo/Mahmoud Tawil)
This was supposed to be a week in which the nation focused on domestic issues, while taking some pleasure in the progress being made in Iraq and the improving relations between Palestinian and Israeli leaders. But events overseas have a way of not cooperating, and the headlines this week were full of bad news. The bombing in Lebanon prompted the U.S. to focus again on Syria's role in supporting violence against Iraq and Israel. North Korea's claim about having the bomb, and Iran's threat to protect its nuclear facilities, directed attention once again to the limitations on American power.
"The president had a press conference this week to announce John Negroponte as his new intelligence director. Except for a question or two on Social Security, everything was focused on national security, foreign affairs. Is this what we're going to see for the next four years, that the president has to focus on these subjects?"
"The president can walk and chew gum at the same time. I think a strong case can be made that Iraq was the place to begin. But as soon as there was an election in Iraq, as soon as there was a possibility that democracy was going to work in the Middle East, it was inevitable that countries like Iran and Syria were going to start making moves against it. The assassination of Rafik Harriri, whoever is behind it -- I think was the first counterstrike there. "
"Even without Iraq, Iran was moving inexorably towards acquiring nuclear weapons. The North Koreans were doing the same. AQ Khan's network had been up and running, selling nuclear technology around the world for years before any of this began. The Chinese have an interest in this. The Russians are now engaged. These tectonic plates were shifting before George Bush became president."
"I'm pleasantly surprised at how tough we're being with Syria all of a sudden. Remember that this is a country to which the first secretary of state for Clinton, Warren Christopher, made two dozen visits trying to convince them to do the right thing on the Middle East peace process. That was unsuccessful, I think it's finally been realized, and I'm glad we're moving in a different direction."