LEBANON UPDATE….The New York Times reports this unsurprising news today:

Almost two weeks into its military assault on Hezbollah, Israel said Tuesday that it would occupy a strip inside southern Lebanon with ground troops until an international force could take its place….Officials have talked about limited raids into Lebanon, but now they seem ready to commit ground forces for at least weeks, if not months.

They said the zone would be much smaller than the strip of southern Lebanon roughly 15 miles deep that Israel occupied for nearly two decades before withdrawing in 2000.

And there’s this from the Guardian:

Iran warned the west yesterday that attempts to broker a Lebanon peace deal at today’s Rome summit are destined to fail and it predicted a backlash across the Muslim world unless Israel’s military forces were immediately reined in.

….Hamid Reza Asefi, the foreign ministry spokesman in Tehran, said: “They should have invited all the countries of the region, including Syria and Iran, if they want peace. How can you tackle these important issues without having representatives of all countries in the region?”

One does not have to approve of either the Iranian or Syrian regimes to see that they have a point. As Zbigniew Brzezinski put it today, “In the final analysis, Iran is a serious country, it’s not Iraq. It’s going to be there. It’s going to be a player.” Like it or not, we have to deal with them if we want to get anything done.

Of course, it’s increasingly obvious that we don’t want to get anything done. The Rome conference is pretty clearly not designed to accomplish anything serious, and in the meantime Israel is gearing up for a long-term occupation of Lebanon ? I’d bet on years myself, not weeks or months. It’s hard to think of a worse outcome for Israel, the Middle East, or the world, but that’s what we’re getting.