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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Israeli Forces Target Tyre; Hezbollah Rockets Strike 25 Miles From Tel Aviv
Aired August 4, 2006 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening again from Haifa.
We begin tonight with breaking news. While diplomatic efforts heat up so, too, does the fighting in the ground in Lebanon. An operation is under way in Tyre in south Lebanon, and more explosions rock Beirut.
ANNOUNCER: The military mission, the civilian cost, both growing, with Israel stepping up the bombardment from one end of Lebanon to the other.
Long reach: Hezbollah rockets striking deeper into Israel than ever before, and new evidence of Syrian involvement.
Plus, free speech, democracy in action in Iraq -- tens of thousands rallying to say they hate Israel, they hate us -- tonight, new concerns the Muslim world is uniting to defy America.
ANNOUNCER: This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "Crisis in the Middle East: Day 24."
Reporting tonight from Haifa, here's Anderson Cooper.
COOPER: And thanks very much for joining us again. We come to you tonight from Haifa.
We want to welcome our viewers on CNN International, as well as watching -- those watching in the United States.
After perhaps the most punishing day yet of Israeli airstrikes and Hezbollah rocket attacks, a lot to talk about tonight -- a cease- fire plan, let alone an actual cease-fire, is still in the talking stages. Both sides, however, right now, seem to be stepping up the fight. There is some air activity over the town of Tyre in south Lebanon.
CNN's Ben Wedeman is there.
Ben, what are we seeing?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CAIRO BUREAU CHIEF: Yes, Anderson. Basically, for the last hour-and-a-half to an hour, we have seen intense air activity around Tyre. We have heard loud explosions. We have heard many helicopters overhead, firing what seems to be cannon. We have seen explosions around this site here.
Clearly, the Israelis have intensified their activity here. We have also heard, in some areas, my colleague Karl Penhaul tells me, small-arms fire. So, we don't know what is the nature of the Israeli operation here, but, certainly, we have never seen, in all our time here in Tyre, this level of activity -- Anderson.
COOPER: What is it that makes it different? It -- it is just the -- the level of -- of activity that you're seeing that -- that makes it different, the -- the -- the intensity of it?
WEDEMAN: Yes. It's -- it's the intensity, but, for instance, the jets are flying much lower, much closer to us. I saw, about an hour ago, a bomb fall not more than 700 meters from here.
Now, you can hear overhead another aircraft. And it -- a very large explosion coming from that area over there, where there is a Lebanese army barracks.
We have also heard reports that a Lebanese army checkpoint at the entrance to one of Tyre's Palestinian refugee camps has also been hit. So, really, we -- as I said Anderson, this is more intense, closer, louder than anything we have seen yet.
COOPER: There are some reports that -- that some of this air activity, in particular these helicopters, are in support of Israeli ground troops. Can you confirm that?
We have -- from our position here, we have no way of knowing. Really, we're kind of in lockdown at this hotel at this point. Nobody really feels comfortable about getting out. And, really, the confirmation of that would probably most likely be coming from Israel itself. Because of this situation here, it's very difficult, at this point, to confirm that sort of information.
But, obviously, there's something going on here that we haven't seen yet -- Anderson.
COOPER: Ben Wedeman, we will keep coming back to you over the course of this next two hours.
When we left you 24 hours ago, Israeli warplanes had just begun a new round of airstrikes, many of them designed to cut potential supply routes from Syria into Lebanon. Now, according to the Israeli air force, they now are cut. Those supply lines have been cut.
Hezbollah, but also ordinary Lebanese, are now isolated. And that is not the only consequences of those airstrikes. Tonight, we have a clear picture of the cost in human lives. And the cost has been severe. We begin with CNN's Michael Ware, live in Beirut.
Michael, what is going on there?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the bombs are back in Beirut.
Over the last 45 minutes, the aerial campaign has returned. We have heard at least six explosions, perhaps as many as nine. One of them that I saw just 20 minutes ago lit up the southern skyline with a deafening, rolling boom that followed. This is the third night in a row that we have seen the aerial campaign return to Beirut.
This follows a particularly intense night last night. So, this morning, the people of Beirut woke up reeling to the level of destruction.
WARE (voice-over): Bodies lined side by side, bombed, burned, some beyond recognition, the aftermath of an airstrike, lifted away to waiting ambulances -- to the Lebanese, another massacre of innocence, more than 20 dead -- to the Israelis, a just strike on a Hezbollah weapons store in the small village of Qaa, these Syrians, said to be fruit-pickers, camouflage for an arsenal in the guerrillas' Bekaa Valley stronghold.
This is the face of war in Lebanon, ghostlike Hezbollah fighters, Israelis claims of civilians used as human shields and hospitals as supply bases, a population under siege.
The full fury of the Israeli air campaign has resumed and continues. Of its 120 airstrikes across the country today, a quarter hit in Beirut within less than half a square-mile, a concentration of firepower not seen since the war's first days.
(on camera): This is a result of the intense Israeli bombardment of the southern district of Uzai. It seems to fit an emerging pattern of the air campaign, targeting routes in and out of Lebanon, from the roads and bridges to the north leading to Syria, to this humble fishing fleet.
(voice-over): Beyond those boats, the last main road, the artery, once seen as safe, leading out of the country, its back now broken, four key bridges obliterated, leaving Lebanon isolated, strangled, no escape or help.
MARK SCHNELLBAECHER, CATHOLIC RELIEF SERVICES: This is a huge setback. One of the major supply routes, for both commercial shipments for the supermarkets, for example, but also for relief assistance, was that highway.
WARE: Fuel tankers critical to keeping hospitals functioning, cars running, lights on, still shut out by Israel's naval blockade.
Israel says it is stopping Syria from rearming Lebanon. If the strategy to also to bring this country to its knees, it's working. But, still, Hezbollah keeps fighting, sending more than 200 rockets south into Israel today.
So, on the 24th day of this conflict, Lebanese officials say the human toll is now 675 dead, a ghastly count by anyone's measure.
COOPER: Michael, I guess one of the unintended consequences of that airstrike on that road was angering the -- the -- the Christians who live in that neighborhood. It's a Christian neighborhood. They, heretofore, had felt kind of safe, out of this conflict, not siding with Hezbollah.
No -- no -- no doubt, right now, there's a lot of anger toward Israel.
Did -- did it work, though, from Israel's perspective? I mean, are all the supply routes now cut?
WARE: Look, Anderson, I think this is one of the great ironies of this aerial campaign.
Whilst, of course, Hezbollah will use whatever channel is available to ferry its men and its weapons in and out of the country, the people who are suffering most from this are the ordinary Lebanese. They're the ones who need to rely on this road particular as the only lifeline out.
Now they're forced to turn to byways and -- and make the best that they can do. Hezbollah, on the other hand, has well-established supply lines, or what the military calls rat lines. We have been to the Syrian border. We have seen the mountain terrain. It's a traditional smuggler's area. So, it's rife with little tracks cutting through it.
Hezbollah, I suspect, though under strain -- strain, can still maintain some resupply -- Anderson.
COOPER: Michael, we will check in with you later on.
A lot of activity we are seeing now in the skies over Beirut. We will check in with Michael a little bit later on.
Yet, no matter what happens in south Lebanon, it seems the rockets continue to land here in northern Israel. Those rockets and a few longer-range guided missiles have taken 30 civilian lives in Israel so far, Hezbollah firing about 2,500 since the war began, a fraction of their arsenal, according to the Israeli military, most of those rockets landing in northern towns and cities, like Netanya and Kiryat Shmona, but some hitting further south.
Yesterday, Hassan Nasrallah threatened to take aim at Tel Aviv.
And, as CNN's Matthew Chance reports, he is getting closer, dangerously close. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The attack on Hadera was captured on a cell phone camera. Police say two or three rockets landed there. And, though there were no casualties, the strike may be the most dangerous yet.
It's the furthest any Hezbollah rocket has traveled into Israel, only 25 miles from the densely populated area around Israel's major city, Tel Aviv. Across the country, more than 200 Hezbollah rockets struck, killing at least three people. The militia's ability to strike seems relentless.
CHANCE: From Israel, a ferocious artillery barrage of southern Lebanon -- officials say they will keep pounding Hezbollah positions to stop the rockets and end the threat from Hezbollah.
CHANCE: But the battle is proving tougher than expected. As Israeli forces push back Hezbollah, there's been heavy fighting. The militia is well-armed and dug in. The Israeli military has released pictures of troops of what it says are captured militia fighters, but the Israelis are taking casualties, too. In one incident, at least three soldiers were killed in an anti-tank missile attack.
Israel has at least 10,000 troops in southern Lebanon fighting at close quarters with Hezbollah guerrillas. Morale and expectations seem high.
"We will beat Hezbollah," says this soldier, "and we will get Nasrallah, too."
But the cost of this war is increasing for Israel. More than 70 soldiers and civilians have been killed. It's only a fraction of the number of Lebanese who have died, but it is still painful here, painful enough for demonstrators, for and against the war, to face off in the Israeli city of Haifa. The military says, it has reduced the number of Hezbollah rockets striking here, but the methods have proved divisive.
ORR HORREV, ANTI-WAR PROTESTER: We are here to protest against what we see as unjustified and disproportionate aggression against civilians and against our neighbors.
DAVID HEKSNER, PRO-WAR DEMONSTRATOR: This is a terrorist organization that is aiming to kill women and children. And I want to show my support for the IDF and for the Israeli army and -- and the government in their fight against the Hezbollah.
CHANCE: And, with Hezbollah now fulfilling its threats to strike deeper into Israel, majority Israeli opinion remains broadly in support of the war.
After more than three weeks of bitter fighting, there remains a grim determination to press on.
COOPER: Matthew Chance joins us now from the Israel-Lebanon border.
You know, Matthew, no matter what Israeli forces do or how much they say they have accomplished on the ground in south Lebanon, those rockets just keep on coming. What is -- what is their explanation for why there's been no letup? And, if anything, over the last several days, those rockets, the amount of them, and the -- the deadliness of them has increased.
CHANCE: Well, I think, Anderson, one thing we have seen is that Hezbollah is a very tough enemy to defeat.
We have also seen they're very well-armed. Perhaps they have more missiles than Israel had taken account of when it -- it went into this, this armed campaign against them.
But I think the biggest reason is that, you know, some of the rockets that Hezbollah have, have such a long range, that, you know, the Israeli army would have to take all of the territory right up the country of Lebanon in order to take control of the areas from which these rockets are being launched. That's not realistic.
At the moment, they're talking about going in maybe eight or 10 miles into Lebanon. And even that's going to require a lot of troops. And, so, the threat -- and Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, says this -- of the rockets may never be stopped by military means.
They're going to be looking to the international community to step in, to put pressure on Syria, where the arms come from, and to disarm Hezbollah. That's the way Israel is going to beat the rocket threat in the end -- Anderson.
COOPER: Matthew, how much activities, military activity, are you seeing along the border today? And -- and -- and, also, how much shelling, artillery shelling, continues from those Israeli batteries?
CHANCE: Well, the shelling has been nonstop.
Virtually every few minutes, shells are fired across the Israeli border, from Israel into Lebanese territory. It has been a real percussion of -- of -- of pounding the towns and villages across south Lebanon, where, of course, there has been a great deal of military activity.
There have been these raids elsewhere in Lebanon. We have been hearing about that from Michael Ware. But the real military emphasis, in terms of ground troops, has very much been in south Lebanon.
There, you have got between 10,000 and 12,000 Israeli troops moving from village to village, trying to establish Israel's control over a broad strip of territory. What Israel says it -- said it will -- says it will do with that is hold on to it, to keep it free of Hezbollah fighters, until such times as the international community can agree a multinational force to take over from the Israelis.
Until then, there will be Israeli boots on the ground -- Anderson.
COOPER: Matthew Chance, reporting from the border -- Matthew monitoring events there. We will continue to check in with him as events warrant.
A note now on where the diplomatic effort stands right now -- President Bush took a few moments away from his Crawford vacation to speak with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The two talked about ongoing efforts to try to hammer out a U.N. cease-fire resolution.
And, about that resolution, senior officials at the State Department tell us that the U.S. and France have made progress and may have a draft ready to bring to the Security Council some time this weekend. Just yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had talked to Larry king, and expressed a belief that, perhaps by Friday, there would be some sort of resolution. That clearly has not happened.
Diplomats intend to -- to work over the weekend, and -- and hope to have something by Monday. But there are many steps to be taken, many things to be ironed out still, in -- in terms of a timetable, exactly when all the pieces would fall into place. We're going to talk about that later on in the program as well.
While diplomatic efforts continue, so do relief operations -- not as fast as needed. Here's the "Raw Data."
So far, the U.N. Refugee Agency has delivered more than 6,000 blankets, more than 3,000 mattresses. The aid has gone to nearly 5,000 people. Let's give some perspective, though. There are roughly 800,000 people displaced within Lebanon right now.
Besides being deadly, today's attacks raise new questions about the strategies and the weapons that each side is using. Coming up, we will talk to a former general who spent years chasing Hezbollah, who explains what really went on today and why it may be reason for new concerns.
Plus, a major show of support for Hezbollah in Baghdad, of all places, a massive demonstration in the streets -- as far as the eye could see, people waving Hezbollah flags, the biggest pro-Hezbollah rally ever in the Middle East -- why that has many in the West concerned -- when 360 returns, live from Haifa and points beyond.
COOPER: And we continue to follow the breaking news out of Tyre, in south Lebanon, what our Ben Wedeman reporting just a short time ago, helicopters in the skies over Tyre firing cannons from helicopters. Ben also heard small-arms fire in the streets in Tyre, some sort of major activity, the likes of which he, who has been there quite some time now, has not seen before -- also, very low-flying jets flying overhead, dropping large explosives, bombs into Tyre, very close to where they were.
We're going to have another report from Tyre later on in the program.
But the battle lines were pushed farther north, it can be said today, and farther south on both sides of the Israel-Lebanon border.
So, is this a turning point? Is something happening now that hasn't happened before?
CNN analyst and retired Brigadier Army General David Grange has seen many battlefield. He joins me tonight from Oak Brook, Illinois.
General Grange, thanks for being with us.
First of all, let's talk about these rockets. A -- a rocket hit further south in Israel than ever before into the town of Hadera. What do we know about the range of these rockets? And -- and -- and there was also a report in "The Jerusalem Post," saying that Iran has -- has admitted, or at least one Iranian person has admitted that -- an Iranian official has admitted that Iran supplied the long-range rockets, and, essentially, that they control the decision, whether or not they get used by Hezbollah.
RETIRED BRIGADIER GENERAL DAVID GRANGE, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, some of these rockets, these Fajr-3 and 4 -- 5 rockets, they have a -- a range up to 70 kilometers. And, so, they -- that's a -- that's a pretty good size -- long-range weapon to use in this type of fight, when these are two relatively small countries.
And Iran does call the shots on this. They have supplied these weapons, as well as some of these old Russian weapons. Some are provided by the Chinese, actually, through Iran, by Syria.
But Iran, this -- the Hezbollah is the forward-deployed force of Iran. And I think we have to understand that. They are a proxy force fighting, really -- though they have some autonomy, they -- they are actually helping Iran with their -- with their strategy, what they're going to do in the region.
And, so, they're forward-deployed doing that. They -- this was a planned fight that started with -- with Iran's guidance. And it will continue to be, they will continue to supply them as best they can.
COOPER: Well, that gets me to my next question about the quality of these Hezbollah fighters.
Certainly, I mean, I have talked to -- to Israeli soldiers coming back from the front. One soldier said to me, you know, they have courage, but they're human beings, but that they have courage, and they're not just shooting and running, that they are attacking, that they are fighting, and the fight is tough.
They're -- they're, in some ways, a double threat. I mean, on the one hand, they're -- they're -- they're guerrilla fighters. And they have the zeal of -- of zealots and jihadists. But, at the same time, as you said, they are state-funded. And, so, they are -- they are well-funded. Israel has now put out this video of some -- what they say are some low-level captured Hezbollah fighters.
What -- what do you make of the quality of the fighters and -- and -- and the powers they have behind them?
GRANGE: Well, they were pretty ruthless in the '80s, I can assure you.
I mean, they -- they were tough guys in Beirut. And -- and, again, like I said, they're ruthless. They do horrific things to people and use people however they need to, to accomplish their goals.
Now, they have been trained. Many have been trained in training camps in Iran on -- on, actually, some conventional tactics, not just guerrilla warfare, but how to use these rockets, how to organize mortar fire with ground attacks, and -- and how to delay, let's say, Israeli forces, if they're trying to clear towns or -- or ravines, whatever the case may be.
And they're zealots, as you said. I mean, they do believe in what they fight for. And they like the idea that they're fighting on their ground and, in some -- in most cases, on their terms, where you have to root them out one or two at a time, inch by inch, as you go forward. That -- that kind of plays to their favor.
COOPER: And, General Grange, we continue to watch this breaking news story out of Tyre in south Lebanon, scenes of -- of helicopters on the ground -- helicopters fighting in the air, Apache helicopters, using their cannons, some -- some kind of activity Ben Wedeman reporting he hasn't seen before. How is Israel using helicopters?
GRANGE: Well, the Apache helicopter is a great aerial platform, used for both close-air support to the soldiers. So, they're using fighter aircraft or bombers from the air force, but they're also using these helicopters to provide close-in support, very accurate, pinpoint fire -- in other words, from just say three kilometers out, put a missile right through a window, or use the cannon fire to take out a vehicle that's driving between one block, city block, and another.
Or they're used by themselves in deep attack, to go in deep. And, with their night-vision and their -- and their other capabilities to find, acquire targets, which is exceptional, it's a great asset to have. And they're using them to their advantage, the Israelis are, in this case around the city of Tyre.
COOPER: Retired Brigadier General David Grange, appreciate it. Thanks very much...
GRANGE: My pleasure.
COOPER: ... General Grange.
COOPER: Day 24, and the president still hasn't called the Israeli prime minister. So, what do Americans think of the president's policy on the Middle East? We will show you the latest CNN poll.
Also, later: from liberator to the enemy -- thousands of Iraqis march against America in Baghdad today, adding another disturbing factor to the war -- that and more when 360 continues from Haifa and all around the region.
COOPER: And we continue to follow this breaking news, an attack under way in Tyre, in south Lebanon, helicopters seen in the air, Apache helicopters used by Israel, cannons firing from those helicopters -- Ben Wedeman reporting the sound of small-arms fire, as well as low-flying jets. We will talk to him in a moment.
Also want to show you the -- the picture right now out of Beirut -- CNN's Michael Ware reporting, there have been explosions there. It is a live picture. There, you see smoke rising over suburbs of Beirut, yet another day dawning, yet more explosions.
At this time yesterday, we saw also major airstrikes by Israel, cutting off some of those resupply routes on the roads out of Beirut. Those roads are now cut. And, yet again, on this morning, at 5:28 a.m., smoke over Beirut, another day of violence continues.
Let's check in with Ben Wedeman, who is monitoring the -- the developing story, the breaking news out of Tyre.
Ben, what's happening now?
WEDEMAN: Anderson, it has gone relatively quiet in the last half-hour. We do occasionally see Israeli aircraft overhead, but it does seem to have -- there has been some calming-down of the situation.
Now, Arab satellite news networks are reporting that Israeli troops tried to land on the ground to the north of Tyre. We have yet to confirm that information. But my colleague Karl Penhaul did say he heard gunfire coming from the north of the city. Precisely where, we don't know.
But, as I said, Anderson, it has gone relatively quiet. I can still hear what I think is a drone overhead. A little while ago, we saw an Israeli jet dropping those flares that are supposed to deflect heat-seeking missiles. But it does seem that the bombardment has ended for the time being -- Anderson.
COOPER: Ben, where are you in the city of Tyre, in relation to -- to the rest of the city? And how common are -- are attacks like this? I mean, is this sort of an everyday occurrence?
WEDEMAN: Well, first of all, we're at the southern end of the city, in a hotel that overlooks a beach to the south.
No, this is the most intense period -- it lasted about two hours, two-and-a-half-hours -- of bombardment we have seen so far. And, certainly, no, we -- we haven't seen anything -- again, now I see another flare is dropping over there. Hard to tell what it is at this point.
But, no, this -- this was really the most intense period of bombardment, of gunfire, of helicopter activity we have seen in Tyre since we got here, about two-and-a-half, three weeks ago -- Anderson.
COOPER: And -- and if it -- if it is the case, as some Arab networks are reporting, that Israel tried to insert troops on the ground, to your knowledge, would that be the first time that Israeli ground troops would be in Tyre?
WEDEMAN: In Tyre, yes, it would be the first time in many years that they've been here. Of course, they were here in 1982, and for some time after that, but in this particular round of this never- ending conflict, this is the first time that they've been this far, if that is the case. Anderson?
COOPER: All right, Ben Wedeman, appreciate your reporting. Stay safe.
The president's problems aren't just with the Middle East. His support of Israel is creating big problems in Iraq. Where Iraqis by the thousands are protesting Israel and the U.S., burning flags of America, and Israel. That story coming up.
Plus Americans also respond to the president's, well, some say hands-off approach in the Middle East over the years. Some surprising new poll numbers on him and Condoleezza Rice, that's next on 360.
COOPER: Joining us (INAUDIBLE) of breaking developments, while the diplomatic efforts continue, the fighting on the ground seems to be intensifying. Severe activity going on in the southern Lebanese city of Tyre which we've been following, also in Beirut, new explosions. We'll continue to monitor those situations. Tonight, President Bush is at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he's spending part of a ten-day working vacation they're calling it. Much of that work concerns the Middle East. While the president keeps a close eye on what is happening there, Americans are keeping a close eye on him and his policies. A new CNN poll out today shows whether the country supports his handling of the growing crisis. CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider breaks down the numbers for us.
BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Iraq, Cuba, at times of international tension the American public usually rallies behind the president. Is that happening now? The president's latest job approval rating in a CNN poll taken this week by the Opinion Research Corporation is 40 percent. 59 percent disapprove. Not much of a rally, but one administration figure is getting high marks.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: If you're going to do this job it's great to be doing it at the time of consequence.
SCHNEIDER: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's job rating is 62 percent, much higher than her boss. President Bush continues to be dragged down by Iraq. 62 percent disapprove of the way he's handling Iraq. Mr. Bush's handling of the Middle East conflict between Israel and Hezbollah draws mixed reviews. 43 percent approve, 46 disapprove. More than two-thirds of Americans say they sympathize with Israel in this conflict. Sympathy with Israel has been growing since the conflict began. No division there. But there is division over what Israel should do now. Americans are split over whether Israel should continue military action until Hezbollah can no longer launch attacks, or agree to an immediate cease-fire. The cease-fire issue draws a partisan response.
TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: If you declare an immediate cease-fire and you do not have the conditions for real peace, it is simply going to be a hollow declaration.
SCHNEIDER: Most republicans agree with that position. Most democrats want a cease-fire as soon as possible. Here's something else the public is divided about. A narrow majority supports sending U.S. ground troops to the Lebanese border, along with troops from other countries, for a peace-keeping force. But there's no big party split over an international peace-keeping force. What about Cuba? By better than 2:1, the public favors reestablishing diplomatic relations with Cuba. If Fidel Castro dies, and his brother Raul takes over, that number goes even higher. No partisan split here either. Republicans and democrats alike favor diplomatic relations with Cuba. Bill Schneider, CNN.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: Well, former presidential adviser David Gergen is a frequent guest on 360. He joins me now from Boston. David good to see you. What do you make of these numbers? I mean Bush's approval seems to be up a certain percentage point. Does that surprise you?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well Anderson first of all we're glad you're safe there. He's up slightly because I think there is a modest rally around the fact but I think from his point of view the most important thing is his numbers are holding. He's not descending, even though there's a sense of chaos in the Middle East, he's not sliding badly, and his secretary of state does have these high numbers, as Bill Schneider just reported. It's worth remembering that when Colin Powell was secretary of state, he had very high numbers, too, much higher than the president. So there is a general support -- I think the president -- what this poll says is the president still has leeway to continue on the course he's on at home.
What it does not address, of course, is a sense around the world that this has been a -- this is a deepening crisis and one which may be well heard in the United States. "The Financial Times" today, Anderson as I'm sure you know, ran a big headline "U.S. Policy in the Middle East Unravels." U.S. Policy in the Middle East unravels. There is a perception around the world that we're in deep trouble here, that we have not one, but two crises that may go down in history as being badly mishandled.
COOPER: Well, you know, especially when you see those pictures out of Iraq today and perhaps that was the point of the demonstration, but you know hundreds of thousands of people rallied, you know, for Hezbollah, burned American flags, burned Israel flags. You know, that's no surprise I guess, but it's still sort of shocking to see, after all the U.S. has poured into Iraq, a demonstration like that.
GERGEN: I totally agree with that and right from day one, where the Israeli/Hezbollah conflict, I think it's been really a surprise to a lot of Americans that, after spending all of this blood and treasure to build a democracy in Iraq, what we've emerged with at a moment of, you know, when we really had people to take sides, are you for the terrorists or not. That there are large forces in Iraq that are coming down on the side of Hezbollah, and opposing the United States and Israel on this. And what is really worrisome, of course Anderson is that what's gone on between Israel and Hezbollah is going to ripple into Iraq, and make it much more complicated for us to get a peaceful outcome and a real democratic society. This greatly strengthens the hands of the Shiites and the radical Shiites, Sadr is a radical Shiite and to build 100,000 people in the streets, we haven't seen anything like that in Iraq against our interests since we went in with this invasion against Saddam.
COOPER: And I guess the question is, and it's an unknown, there is no answer to it at this point, I guess you know the cliche only time will tell. The question is, how much of the support that we're seeing now for Hezbollah, these demonstrations around the world, how much of that is really based on the ideas that basically anti-Semitic sort of fascistic beliefs of Hezbollah, of their leadership and how much of it is just a, you know, the fact that they're poking the eye of Israel and that they seem to be holding up against Israel on the ground?
GERGEN: Well, I agree. We can't tell now, but I think what we can sense is that the Israeli -- as the Israeli conflict spreads, as the Israelis spread their efforts and it's understandable they're doing this, but nonetheless, Hezbollah is increasingly becoming synonymous with Lebanon. And what we're going to wind up with is Israel is going to wind up with this very dangerous situation, it's got Hamas in Gaza to its west. It's going to have Hezbollah-led type Lebanon situation, where there's a lot of hostility toward the north. The West Bank is very restive. That's a major problem for the international community to have it bring peace to this region and the radicalization that's going on as this conflict spreads and deepens and more people get killed is a, you know I think we're going to get, you know, Israel is going to come out of this with lines drawn. But in terms of what the U.S. interests are in this part of the world, this is greatly complicated, the U.S. prospects for bringing any hope of great stability to the Middle East. It's inflamed opinion against the U.S., in my judgment it's ultimately going to endanger Israeli security, and I think it's going to make it much tougher in Iraq.
So there are a lot of people in the foreign policy community here, Anderson, people who work for George H.W. Bush, George Bush Sr., who are deeply disturbed by U.S. policy here now and the way this has been executed. Of course, there's people in the democratic side, but to see republican foreign policy heavyweights really, you know, they're anxious not to speak up too sharply but they are deeply -- they're very alarmed by what they see happening. They think this is a, this is potentially going to be a major setback for the United States. We'll have to wait and see.
COOPER: Yeah. What will Lebanon become? When you see the pictures of Hassan Nasrallah talking, pontificating in front of the Lebanese flag, not just a Hezbollah flag, suddenly he defines what Lebanon is. And for those who know Lebanon as a multicultural place, that is really a scary image. Dave, we've got to go. Appreciate your perspective.
GERGEN: Thank you.
COOPER: The outpouring of anger in Baghdad. Thousands take to the streets as we've been talking about, condemning Israel, burning U.S. flags. More trouble to America's mission. We'll have that ahead.
Plus taming the terror of war by picking up the pieces left behind. How some children in Israel have turned deadly weapons into a hobby, when 360 returns, live from Haifa.
COOPER: And we have been monitoring this breaking story out of Tyre in south Lebanon. New attacks using helicopters, apache helicopters, reportedly CNN's Ben Wedeman had heard cannons on those helicopters, opening fire, one report according to Arab media, unconfirmed yet by CNN is that Israel attempted to land some troops. Now you're looking at pictures from Beirut of smoke rising over Beirut. We have seen that this morning as well. New explosions have rocked the city. A lot to talk about with our next two guests. In particular, this coming a day after major demonstrations in Baghdad, in support of Hezbollah, more than 100,000 people turned out at the urging of Muqtada Al Sadr to support Hezbollah. Today's protests in Iraq just part of the wave of anger, building in the Arab world, at Israel and the U.S.
Joining me from Boston is Jim Walsh, international security expert at M.I.T. and with us again from Beirut is CNN's Michael Ware. Jim, what do you make of these demonstrations in Baghdad?
JIM WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EXPERT, M.I.T.: Well, two things, Anderson. First, as this war continues, it helps radicals. It hurts Arab moderates. It hurts religious moderates and it helps radicals and as David said in your last segment, Sadr is a radical. Second, Sadr is playing domestic politics. He knows that Maliki, the prime minister, can't go out there and criticize Hezbollah, because that will anger the U.S. The U.S. will say well you are Iraqi prime minister who we're helping, you're in bed with the terrorists. So Maliki has to walk a fine line. Not true for Sadr, he can say whatever he wants and mobilize his own people for his own political purposes.
COOPER: Michael Ware, you spent an awful lot of time in Baghdad and throughout Iraq. I mean there is this Sunni/Shia split. Is it possible that there would be unity between the Sunnis and the Shia, increasing unity?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, Anderson, I really don't see that that's on the cards. Even with this issue here in Lebanon, I think the divide has been driven so deep, a divide that did not exist, certainly to this degree under Saddam, that it can't be repaired, not by something like this. And what we're seeing from Muqtada's people, I mean, it is a very sensational demonstration, yet in many ways it is not new. U.S. intelligence has been saying that there have been links, the transfer of men and technology and training between Muqtada's militia and Hezbollah for quite some time, and this anti- Americanism is deep-set. It's been there for at least two years. Anderson?
COOPER: How much of it is real, Michael though? I mean, how much of it is just, you know, sort of rallying up, getting people excited, getting people to turn out in numbers? I mean, is there really that much support for Hezbollah in Iraq?
WARE: Well, certainly in terms of Arab nationalism, in terms of standing up against Israel, in terms of a shared, broadly common agenda with Iran, that does exist, even down to the street. Certainly not with the fervor of some of Muqtada's militants, but I mean, this touches a very easy cord on the Shia Street. And I mean, you need to understand that the feelings of anti-Americanism, the torments of the occupation, the ongoing nature of the war, and how they see that the American forces there are contributing to that, is deep, deep-rooted. The every man on the street will easily tell you about his feelings against America.
COOPER: Jim Walsh, what does the U.S. do about that? I mean how do they go about -- do they need to do something about it and if so, what can they do?
WALSH: Well I think they should do something about it. This is very troubling Anderson. As David indicated before, we had poll numbers earlier. Some people are pro-Israel. Some people are pro- Palestine or pro-Lebanon. But what Americans should be asking themselves is what is in U.S. national security interest? What about Americans' security, and the longer this war goes on, the worse it is for U.S. security. It means increased radicalization. It means groups can recruit more members, and it means a more difficult road in Iraq. So the first thing is to stop the bleeding. There has to be a cessation of violence. The longer the violence goes on, the worse it is for U.S. security interests.
COOPER: Michael Ware, you know it's interesting when you read these speeches from Hassan Nasrallah, just the sort of core anti- Semitism that is at the heart of his beliefs, is that same anti- Semitism at the heart of Muqtada Al Sadr in Baghdad? I mean, yes, they're anti-Israel but Hassan Nasrallah is talking about Jews worldwide and basically painting them as the lowest form of life.
WARE: That's a very easy card to apply in both Lebanon and Iraq. The popular feeling against Israel is there just beneath the surface. That's one thing that Sunnis and Shia share in both countries. But what we need to understand is that all of these events were set in (INAUDIBLE) long before this, since the invasion of Iraq. This kind of feeling is resentment, has been there, Anderson.
COOPER: Michael Ware, appreciate you joining us from Beirut and Jim Walsh again appreciate you joining us from MIT. Thanks very much Jim.
WALSH: Thank you.
COOPER: With rockets falling on their heads, how two kids, coming up, came up with their own unique prescription for coping with tragedy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have the remaining katyushas, it's like evidence to what's happening.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: During the first three weeks of this war, according to Israeli police, Hezbollah has fired about 2,500 rockets across the Lebanese border into Israel. This week, we met two kids who are literally picking up the pieces.
COOPER (voice-over): 15-year-old Israel Silverberg and his two sisters, 11-year-old Miriam and 17-year-old Elisheva have a new hobby.
Oh, my God.
COOPER: They collect the katyusha rockets that now terrorize their town.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are the wings.
COOPER: So how does this piece rate for your collection?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very good.
COOPER: Very good?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. This is now our best one.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because you can really see the katyusha.
COOPER: The Silverbergs started picking up katyusha shrapnel two weeks ago. They already have quite the collection.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's kind of cool that you have all of these remainings of the katyusha, it's like evidence to what's happening.
COOPER: Their father, Barry a teacher, thinks his kids' collection is a way for them to cope with their fears.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Collecting the rocket fragments gives them a bit of feeling of control over something that was trying to kill them.
COOPER: Control over something trying to kill them. Here is much to be afraid of in Kiryat Shmona. Here, the sound of rockets and shelling.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I came back from, I was --
COOPER: Has become routine.
ELISHEVA SILVERBERG, COLLECTS KATYUSHAS: First, if it's outgoing, you first hear this big boom, explosion, and then you can hear it, it sounds like -- you can hear it going over, you can hear it going overhead.
SILVERBERG: And then when it's a katyusha, sometimes you can hear it three second whistling before it falls down, sometimes, but then like just a big explosion, without anything after it.
COOPER: So this would be something that is inside?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
COOPER: It may seem a strange hobby to some, but these are strange times in Kiryat Shmona.
SILVERBERG: I think it's interesting, and it's like, there's not much to do now, because I mean, everything is closed. The town is not, because there's hardly people here, and all of the stores and stuff, everything is closed, so I think it's something to do.
COOPER: Something to do, some way to cope, a way for kids to play in this time of war.
(END OF VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: Well straight ahead, the war as it plays out on both sides of the border, for soldier and civilians alike. Minute by minute, 24 hours under attack, a special edition of 360 is next.
COOPER: New explosions in Beirut, new fighting in Tyre. All of it following a day that saw Israel clobber Lebanon from one end to another and Hezbollah rockets strike deep into the heart of Israel.
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