IRAN’S ROLE….Kenny Baer writes about the latest explosion of violence in the Middle East:

The kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit by Hamas was alarming enough, and the unprovoked, premeditated attack by Hezbollah over the northern border only deepened that feeling ? rapidly and uneasily. Considering that both attacks were green-lighted by Iran, what becomes clear is that Iran is asserting itself as a regional player and making it clear to the world ? as the UN Security Council debates its future ? that there is a real price to messing with them. That is, this whole situation is much bigger than the Israelis and their terrorist antagonists.

Is this becoming the conventional wisdom about what’s going on? That both attacks were not merely carried out by Iranian allies, but actually masterminded by the Iranians as warning shots across the American bow? David Ignatius seems to endorse this view as well:

That’s the new part of this crisis ? that Iranian-backed radicals deliberately opened another front in a war that, in their minds, stretches from Gaza to Iraq.

….In the Lebanon crisis we have a terrifying glimpse of the future: Iran and its radical allies are pushing toward war. That’s the chilling reality behind this week’s events. On Tuesday the Iranians spurned an American offer of talks on their nuclear program; on Wednesday their Hezbollah proxy committed what Israel rightly called “an act of war.” The radicals want to lure America and Israel deeper into the killing ground, confident that they have the staying power to prevail. We should not play their game.

Most of the other commentary I’ve read suggests that Iran (and Syria) were probably aware of the planned attacks but didn’t engineer them. I’m not sure which to believe at this point, but I’ll keep reading.

UPDATE: I see that Matt Yglesias is wondering the same thing. Matt is suspicious, noting that “a lot of people have been agitating for the United States to commence more active efforts to overthrow the Syrian and Iranian governments for some time now. Then some stuff happened and ? miraculously and without real evidence ? that stuff’s occurence is suddenly the reason we need to implement the very same policy that was being pushed for previously. I’d like to see some proof.”

For obvious reasons this is a compelling argument, and it’s exactly what I’d think if I were reading this stuff from Charles Krauthammer or William Kristol. But Baer and Ignatius don’t strike me as mouthpieces for either PNAC or the White House.

UPDATE 2: A “knowledgable colleague” tells Laura Rozen: “The Israelis claim this is all planned by Iran and Syria via Hamas and Hezbollah. And the fact is that both groups have said that they were not responding to the recent killing of civilians in Gaza but that their elaborate kidnapping plots were in the works for months, which the Israelis claim dates to a summit between Assad and Ahmadinejad in Damascus in January. This might be a little too neat but expect the drumbeat against Tehran’s terrorism sponsoring to escalate as the nuke issue heats up…”