According to a Middle East expert with knowledge of the current thinking of both the Israeli and the U.S. governments, Israel had devised a plan for attacking Hezbollah—and shared it with Bush Administration officials—well before the July 12th kidnappings. “It’s not that the Israelis had a trap that Hezbollah walked into,” he said, “but there was a strong feeling in the White House that sooner or later the Israelis were going to do it.”
According to Richard Armitage, who served as Deputy Secretary of State in Bush’s first term—and who, in 2002, said that Hezbollah “may be the A team of terrorists”—Israel’s campaign in Lebanon, which has faced unexpected difficulties and widespread criticism, may, in the end, serve as a warning to the White House about Iran. “If the most dominant military force in the region—the Israel Defense Forces—can’t pacify a country like Lebanon, with a population of four million, you should think carefully about taking that template to Iran, with strategic depth and a population of seventy million,” Armitage said. “The only thing that the bombing has achieved so far is to unite the population against the Israelis.”
Nonetheless, some officers serving with the Joint Chiefs of Staff remain deeply concerned that the Administration will have a far more positive assessment of the air campaign than they should, [a] former senior intelligence official said. “There is no way that Rumsfeld and Cheney will draw the right conclusion about this,” he said. “When the smoke clears, they’ll say it was a success, and they’ll draw reinforcement for their plan to attack Iran.”
Seymour Hersh puzzelt informatie bij elkaar over de Amerikaanse steun aan Israel als opmaat voor de al langer verwachte Amerikaanse actie tegen Iran. Terwijl zowel Hezbollah als Israel (laatstgenoemde met Bush’ backing) de overwinning claimen (Jon Stewart: “it’s a win-win conflict”) na het staakt-het-vuren van gisteren, is het de vraag hoe de materiële verliezen van Hezbollah af te wegen tegen de rijzende rocksterstatus in de hele Arabische wereld van Hezbollah-leider Hassan Nasrallah.