BTS 7/24/06: Crisis in Lebanon

Listen: Chris Hedges - Ussama Makdisi - Tariq Ali

On tonight’s BTS we take a deeper look at the devastating war in Lebanon.

With more than 300 Lebanese dead and half a million displaced, with the Beirut airport, bridges and power plants disabled, the enormous Israeli bombardment of Lebanon is widely regarded as a ‘disproportionate response" to Hizbullah's July 12 seizure of two soldiers and killing of three others on Israeli soil. An informal CNN poll shows 54% of Americans opposed to Israel’s attack on Lebanon with 46% in favor. Yet virtually the entire American political class actively resists international calls for an immediate ceasefire, preferring to wait for an Israeli victory.

Meanwhile, US missiles are on the way to Israel. Some have called this conflict the beginning of World War III, and others a proxy war between the US and Iran. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is in Beirut today at the start of a high stakes mission to try to end the conflict, while some critics have said she waited to long to go and others that talks are futile unless Hezbullah are included. The Saudis are pressing the Bush Regime to push for an immediate ceasefire, while Israel’s Ehud Olmert says Israel will be in Lebanon for a long, long time.

To go beneath the surface on this latest installment of the Arab-Israeli wars, we talk to three analysts, Pulitzer prize winning NY Times correspondent Chris Hedges, author Tariq Ali in London, and Professor Ussama Makdisi in the US.

Read More for info on tonight's guests:

1. Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, is a senior fellow at The Nation Institute. He has 15 years of experience reporting from war zones in the Persian Gulf, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia, the West Bank and Gaza, Sudan, Yemen, Algeria, the Punjab, Bosnia and Kosovo.In 2002, he shared a Pulitzer Prize for The New York Times’ coverage of global terrorism. Hedges is the author of the bestseller “War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.”

2. Ussama Makdisi is an associate professor of history at Rice University. He is the author of The Culture of Sectarianism: Community, History and Violence in Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Lebanon (2000), "Anti-Americanism in the Arab World: An Interpretation of a Brief History" in Journal of American History and an editor with Paul Silverstein of Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa (2006).

3. Tariq Ali is a novelist, historian, political campaigner. He is a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio and contributes articles and journalism to magazines and newspapers including The Guardian and the London Review of Books. He is editorial director of Verso and is on the board of the New Left Review, for whom he is also an editor. He has written more than 20 books, including The Clash of Fundamentalisms (Verso, 2002), and Bush in Babylon (Verso, 2003).