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(photo credit: AP)
The Bush administration is now doing its best to put right the injustice caused to Israel by the administration of president Ronald Reagan in the last Lebanon War, in 1982-83.
George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice are making every effort to give Israel the time it needs to crush Hizbullah and create the diplomatic and military conditions that will prevent Lebanon again being used as a base to launch missiles and rockets against Israel.
The great concern, understanding and friendship President Bush is demonstrating toward Israel are also the result of his basic and just policy: a refusal to compromise with global, regional or local terror. In addition, in the dozen or so meetings Bush held with former prime minister Ariel Sharon, Sharon always remembered to remind the American president of the grave threat posed to Israel by Syria and Iran via their proxy Hizbullah.
In their talks Sharon repeatedly brought up "the threat of 13,000 rockets and missiles" in the North, saying that he would find the proper way and proper time to deal with it.
FOR EXAMPLE, when Sharon was waging the war against the Palestinian suicide bombers in April 2002 - including in Jenin - and Hizbullah opened fire against Israel in the North, Sharon immediately ordered the air force, under the command of Dan Halutz, and the artillery to return massive firepower that immediately paralyzed Hizbullah. And to enable the American administration to gain a better understanding of the situation, he invited then secretary of state Colin Powell to tour the northern front and learn firsthand about the threat to Israel.
So it should come as no surprise that the Bush administration is continuing to give Israel unprecedented and historic support vis-a-vis the fanatic Islamist forces, from Hizbullah to Hamas, that have openly declared their intent to destroy Israel and are doing everything in their power to do so.
THE REAGAN administration did not understand that Israel went to war to fight against the PLO reign of terror in Lebanon in 1982. Yasser Arafat controlled his terror forces from Beirut exactly as Hassan Nasrallah is controlling his today.
At the time, as media adviser to defense minister Ariel Sharon, I participated in most of the debates he held in Lebanon and Israel that eventually led to Arafat, together with his 10,000 terrorists, being driven out of Beirut following heavy bombing in August 1982.
Except that the US didn't like that victory won by defense minister Sharon. And when Sharon tried to create a sophisticated security zone in southern Lebanon so the area would never again serve as a base for an armed militia - either PLO or Hizbullah - the US administration placed obstacles in his path.
Defense minister Caspar Weinberger and the State Department Arabists did everything they could to get rid of Sharon because he, together with Menachem Begin, symbolized an Israel that had surprisingly independent policies.
That is why the American administration stirred up political and personal opposition to Sharon in Israel itself. Not much was needed; Shimon Peres, Haim Ramon and their friends from the Labor Party, together with the majority in the media, launched unbridled attacks against "Sharon's war in Lebanon." The very same politicians and journalists who now laud and justify the second Lebanese war, did everything they could to sabotage the war in 1982, motivated by narrow political interests.
Some admitted publicly then that if Sharon were to succeed in the war in Lebanon it would make him the natural successor to Menachem Begin, when the time came.
SHARON, a consummate security professional, was thrown out of the Defense Ministry in February 1983 before he had a chance to realize Israel's security plan in southern Lebanon. After that - for 17 years - Israel was mired in Lebanon without a real leader or path.
Sharon's removal from the Defense Ministry came in the wake of the distorted conclusions presented by members of the commission of inquiry into the massacre by Lebanese Christians of Palestinians in Sabra and Shatilla.
The background for the political lynching was prepared by Peres, Ramon and minor politicos such as Amir Peretz, who in late 1982 organized the massive "rally of 400,000" in Tel Aviv against "Sharon and Begin, the murderers."
Today Defense Minister Amir Peretz praises the war in Lebanon at every opportunity. The irony is that if Begin and Sharon had been permitted to properly complete the first Lebanese war, we would not, we can be fairly sure, be fighting the second one now.
As long as Sharon remains alive, it will not be too late for the politicians and media people supporting this second war to apologize to him.