The Bush administration is off the rails.

JERUSALEM (AP) — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Monday she will seek international consensus for a cease-fire and a “lasting settlement” in the conflict between Lebanon and Israel through a U.N. Security Council resolution this week.

“I am convinced that only by achieving both will the Lebanese people be able to control their country and their future, and the people of Israel finally be able to live free of attack from terrorist groups in Lebanon,” Rice told reporters here before departing for Washington.

Rice is making a category error here, misidentifying the problem and therefore pursuing the wrong solution. She’s not alone in that–the entire deluded world is making the same error, and it’s this: This is not and never was a war between Israel and Lebanon. It is a war between Israel and Iran and Syria, with Hezbollah as the proxy for the latter two and Lebanon being the battlefield chosen by them. Lebanon is hostage to Hezbollah, and like many hostages it has developed an affinity for its brutal captor.

Until our leaders correct their perception of the battle in Lebanon, they will continue to pursue the wrong solution. They may well get their cease-fire, but it will be a fiction, and unless Iran and Syria are directly held to account, the real architects of this war will get away with their war crimes.

The sad fact is, as President Bush has shown numerous times over the past few weeks, the administration is well aware that Iran and Syria are directing this war from afar. But equally sad, the administration lacks the courage to push for a solution that punishes Iran and Syria. This is a massive failure of nerve, and will only embolden the mullahs and madmen in charge of those two bully states.