Israel’s war on Lebanon is a warm-up for the U.S. war on Iran.
That is the message of Seymour Hersh’s latest superb article in the New Yorker. Hersh reveals that the Bush administration was “closely involved” in planning Israel’s attacks on Lebanon. A former senior intelligence official informed Hersh that, beginning this Spring, “planners from the U.S. Air Force—under pressure from the White House to develop a war plan for a decisive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities—began consulting with their counterparts in the Israeli Air Force.”
The surprising strength of Hezbollah’s resistance, and its continuing ability to fire rockets into northern Israel in the face of the constant Israeli bombing, the Middle East expert told me, “is a massive setback for those in the White House who want to use force in Iran. And those who argue that the bombing will create internal dissent and revolt in Iran are also set back.”
Israel is following its own agenda. But a Pentagon consultant informed Hersh that the Bush White House “has been agitating for some time to find a reason for a preëmptive blow against Hezbollah.” Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers last month provided the pretext for a massive bombing campaign than had been planned long before.
The Bush team is chomping at the bit to use the “lessons” from Israel’s war for its own on Iran. A former intelligence officer told Hersh: “We told Israel, ‘Look, if you guys have to go, we’re behind you all the way. But we think it should be sooner rather than later—the longer you wait, the less time we have to evaluate and plan for Iran before Bush gets out of office.’” The Bush team apparently believes that they are entitled to create a few more catastrophes before Bush’s time runs out.
Hersh highlights the harebrained notion underlying the Israeli bombing campaign: “Israel believed that, by targeting Lebanon’s infrastructure, including highways, fuel depots, and even the civilian runways at the main Beirut airport, it could persuade Lebanon’s large Christian and Sunni populations to turn against Hezbollah, according to the former senior intelligence official.”
This has backfired massively. And yet the Bush administration appears to still believe that a U.S. bombing campaign in Iran would turn the Iranian people against the Iranian government.
There is no evidence that Bush or Cheney have yet recognized any drawbacks, political or otherwise, from sending Americans off to die for damnfool ideas.