Notes: This week's strip manifests the danger American presidents face in intervening in the Middle East. Since George W. Bush's recent Middle East peace tour, he's been attacked for criticizing Israel's attacks on Palestinians and he's also been criticized for intervening in the Middle East while violence was still occurring. His policy had been that he would become involved in the Middle East peace process only after the violence had ended as a carrot on the stick to end the violence. Like presidents before him, the Middle East is providing a shock to Bush for plugging into the peace efforts.

Two weeks ago, Bush was in the Middle East promoting the road map to peace. He met in Aqaba, Jordan, in a three-way summit with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. Sharon and Abbas made promises they couldn't keep. Sharon promised to end the occupation of the West Bank and Abbas promised to end the violence.

However, conservatives in Israel are determined that the West Bank settlements will not be torn down. Meanwhile, three radical Palestinian groups -- Hamas, al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade and Palestinian Islamic Jihad -- carried out an unusual joint suicide bombing attack killing Israelis. Israel sent helicopters to fire missiles at the car carrying a Hamas leader who was injured but not killed. With this the horrific cycle of violence continues in full bloom since the peace talks.