You might call it the American foreign policy establishment’s own form of Pavlovian Response. Whenever one people goes to war against another, in any part of the world, it arouses the interventionist impulse of politicians and pundits in Washington. And when that war happens to take place in the Middle East, the urge to “do something” acquires an almost apocalyptic urgency. Indeed, raising the specter of a Middle Eastern war in the Capitol is like shouting “fire” in a crowded movie theater, as the experts warn that a hands-off approach towards a civil war or an inter-state confrontation in the region would risk a global war, an oil crisis and more terrorism.
So it is not surprising that the current hostilities between Israel and guerrilla groups in Gaza and Lebanon have elicited a shrill response from lawmakers and talking heads seeking swift U.S. action. ‘This is, in fact, World War III,” former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich says about the crisis, in which the most powerful military force in the region is targeting the leaderships of two armed gangs, Hamas and Hezbollah. The Bush Administration “ought to be helping the Lebanese government have the strength to eliminate Hezbollah as a military force -- not as a political force in the parliament -- but as a military force in south Lebanon,” Gingrich argues(read the rest of my Cato Instituite Daily Commentary).