In Germany on Thursday, President Bush strongly supported Israel's right to defend itself, blaming Syria for harboring terror groups active in both Lebanon and Gaza.
"Syria needs to be held to account,” Bush says. “Syria is housing the militant wing of Hamas. Hezbollah has got an active presence in Syria."
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice blamed Iran as well, but Thursday night cautioned Israel not to go too far.
"The point about restraint, I think, has been taken by our Israeli colleagues,” Rice says.
But all day, the U.S. was alone in defending Israel. At the U.N., the U.S. exercised the sole veto against a resolution condemning Israel's Gaza incursion.
The European Union called Israel's attacks on Lebanon “disproportionate."
In fact, diplomatic sources tell NBC that Israel has been looking for an excuse to clean out Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon after weeks of rocket attacks into Israel.
What role has the U.S. played? Today, U.S. diplomat David Welch arrived in Israel, but critics say too late — 17 days after the first Israeli soldier was captured.
And Rice has not been to Israel or the Palestinian territories since last November.
"I think it’s really inexplicable,” says James Steinberg, dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. “There’s been some sense that if they get involved and fail, that somehow it will lessen American credibility. But I think the opposite is true. That American credibility has been damaged by our unwillingness to get involved.”
Thursday night, critics in both parties say the administration has been so focused on Iraq and Afghanistan it has failed to pay enough attention to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.