Letâ€™s first look at the timing.
President Bushâ€™s second term in office will expire in one
year. For the president who has unconditionally rubber-stamped Israeli
policies, one year is not enough to set long-term goals, but itâ€™s
enough to ignite chaos.
- "If you want chaos, then we welcome chaos. If you want war,
then we welcome war. We have no problem with weapons or with rockets
which we will launch on you." These were the words of Lebanonâ€™s MP
Walid Jumblatt of the ruling March 14 Coalition, directed at the
Hezbollah-led opposition a few days prior to the third year anniversary
of Rafiq Haririâ€™s assassination. Considering the military strength of
Hezbollah within Lebanon, it isnâ€™t difficult to guess where the MPâ€™s
rockets would come from.
Indeed, the internal disunity and open hostility â€“
notwithstanding the political impasse over the future of the countryâ€™s
parliamentary and governmental organisation -- all point at the
readiness of Lebanon to descend into chaos. This is good news for
Israel and the Bush administration. A civil war could achieve what
Israelâ€™s botched, illegal war of 2006 could not.
The 34-day war,
celebrated by Hezbollah as a victory, was a massive setback to Israelâ€™s
regional designs and to those who wanted Hezbollah removed from the
countryâ€™s political equation. The war backfired, achieving the exact
opposite: Hezbollah emerged triumphant. More recently, Israelâ€™s own
investigation into the war admitted, if somewhat circuitously, Israelâ€™s
The Winograd Commissionâ€™s report indicted the army, and
largely absolved Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. It described the warâ€™s
failure as a â€œserious missed opportunity.â€ The report didnâ€™t chastise
war, but decried its lack of effectiveness and poor execution.
How could Olmert correct the mistakes of war without leading another?
And what a better timing for war if not at a moment when Hezbollah and its rivals in Lebanon are engaged in one of their own?
the assassination of a high profiled person like Mugniyah was not
merely an opportunity to boast over a classic Mossad operation. It was
a major ingredient in a larger scheme, the end result of which is maybe
war with both Lebanon and Syria â€“ with the hope of getting Iran
Israel didnâ€™t hide its disappointments from the USâ€™
National Intelligence Estimate, which concluded that Iran is no longer
in the nuclear weapons manufacturing business. It simply meant that the
US will not attack Iran at this time. But for Israel, â€œabsence of
evidence is not the evidence of absenceâ€ â€“ another Rumsfeld quote.
Fearing that unchecked Iran could dominate the region, Israel, with
Bushâ€™s green light, is now ready for escalation.
officials and pundits â€“ and their friends in the US government and
media â€“ are building a case for a confrontation with Iran. In a recent
trip to Germany, after talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin,
Olmert was â€œsureâ€ of Iran developing nuclear weapons. â€œThe Iranians are
moving forward with their plans to create a capacity for
non-conventional weapons,â€ he told reporters.
Israel, however, is neither capable, nor willing to face Iran in a conventional war.
Israelâ€™s scheme to succeed, the internal conflict in Lebanon must
escalate and internal cohesion must not be achieved, a mission
entrusted to the â€˜mysteriousâ€™ car bombings that have been blamed
squarely on Syria and its Lebanese allies.
By gloating, yet
without revealing much about the assassination of Mugniyah, Israeli
commentators might have lost sight of the great gamble of their
government. Hezbollahâ€™s response, articulated by their leader Hassan
Nasrallah, was a vow for an â€˜openâ€™ war. The group will most likely
avoid border clashes, and take the war against Israel to the
international arena, like Israel has. And like Israel, it may gloat but
officially refrain from sponsoring whatever operations it carries out.
course of future events is now more predictable, although whether such
tit-for-tat behaviour will work in Israelâ€™s favour remains in the realm
of â€œunknown unknownsâ€. Maybe Rumsfeld had it right after all.
(www.ramzybaroud.net) is an author and editor of
PalestineChronicle.com. His work has been published in many newspapers
and journals worldwide. His latest book is The Second Palestinian
Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press, London).