President Bush says Hezbollah militants in Lebanon suffered a defeat in their month-long conflict with Israel. Mr. Bush spoke at the State Department just hours after a fragile cease-fire went into effect.
Hezbollah is claiming victory in the war. But President Bush says time will prove the Lebanese-based militants were the losers.
"Hezbollah attacked Israel, Hezbollah started the crisis and Hezbollah suffered a defeat in this crisis," said President Bush.
The president says the people of Lebanon will one day realize that Hezbollah put them in jeopardy with little or no concern for their welfare. He says at the same time, Hezbollah sought to destabilize the young, democratically elected Lebanese government.
"Hezbollah of course has got a fantastic propaganda machine and they are claiming victories," noted George W. Bush. "But how can you claim victory when at one time you were a state within a state, safe within southern Lebanon and now you are going to be replaced by the Lebanese army and an international force?"
Mr. Bush spoke at the end a day of meetings with his top defense and foreign policy advisors, first at the Pentagon and then the State Department. He said the conflict in Lebanon is part of a broader struggle between freedom and terror, and stressed the need to break the link between Hezbollah and its backers in Syria and Iran. He said Hezbollah has been emboldened by its state sponsors, and noted that Iran is also helping arm militants in Iraq.
"The task is the world's and that is to continually remind the Iranians of their obligations - their obligations not to develop a nuclear weapons program, their obligations not to foster terrorism," he said.
Earlier in the day, White House Spokesman Tony Snow was asked if it is likely the current UN cease-fire resolution will be enough to at least interrupt shipments of arms from Iran through Syria to Hezbollah.
"Well, we're going to find out, aren't we? That really does have to be one of the things that - one of the outcomes of this," said Tony Snow. "I think, in part, it will require placing on the northern border of Lebanon somebody who is capable of handling security in such a way as to intercept, interrupt and, with any luck, stop the transport into Lebanon of arms from Iran and Syria."
The UN Security Council resolution passed last week calls for an embargo on the supply of arms to Hezbollah. And while it speaks of the need for an international force in southern Lebanon, it does not address the issue of security on the northern Lebanese border.
Snow told reporters he did not want to prejudge what action the Security Council might ultimately take. All the same, he said, something must be done to prevent the influx of weapons into Lebanon.