Some more 'not good news' on that 'winning hearts and minds' thing was the report that Ayatollah Sistani, the aged Shiite cleric whose strong voice has been something of a moderating influence on Iraqis, is losing influence among the people.
For months, calming statements from the ayatollah held Shiites back from retaliating for killings by Sunni insurgents. But three years of insurgency, sectarian tensions and miserable living conditions have shrunk the space for temperance and given extremists plenty of room to operate.That ain't good for us.
And while all of that is going on, Hezbollah leader Nasrallah is trying to mend fences by saying he never would have ordered the capture of Israeli soldiers if he knew that's what Israel's response would be. I guess what they say about hindsight is true, hunh? Maybe Mama was right when she learned you to think before acting?
While some folks will make meat of that being a ringing endorsement of disproportonate response, I think it lends itself to just how controversial of a figure he really is to the Lebanese who bore the brunt of this lunacy. (And how the government of Lebanon can still make a better case for the people's loyalty.) All that damage to Lebanon? Your fault, bubba. All that rebuilding money is reparations to your own countrymen for your mistake.
In light of all this, I'm still praying that the center will hold, and the ceasefire will succeed.