"By Mike Allen
Although some conservatives have been fretting that Lebanese rocket fire and Israeli warplanes are making President Bush look helpless, administration officials revealed to TIME today that they have plans to harness the chaos as a "leadership moment" for Bush that could wind up helping his flagging goal of transforming the Middle East.
These officials said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will leave Sunday night for a week of diplomacy in the region and will go with the modest goal of forming an "umbrella of Arab allies" in opposition to the militant group Hizballah that incited the conflagration by kidnapping two Israeli soldiers.
"She's not going to come home with a ceasefire, but stronger ties to the Arab world," an administration official said. "It's going to allow us to say that America isn't going to put up with this and we have Arab friends that are against you terrorists. What we want is our Arab allies standing against Hizballah and against Iran, since there is no one who doesn't think Iran is behind this. We're going to say to Hizballah and the terrorist groups, 'This will not stand.' That is the way to bring real change to the Middle East. If you just have a ceasefire, then soon or later, they go back to fighting.""