IRAN’S MOTIVES….More noodling on Lebanon. Here’s an interview in Newsweek with Israel’s vice prime minister, Shimon Peres, about Hezbollah’s attack on Israel and Israel’s response:
Did the Iranians order this?
They are behind it. [Javier] Solana [secretary-general of the European Union] visited Tehran on July 11 and got a totally negative response [on restraining their nuclear program], and Hizbullah struck [Israel] on the 12th of July.
I have a question here. Peres himself doesn’t speculate on Iran’s motives, but the conventional wisdom at this point seems to be that the Iranians ordered Hezbollah’s attack in order to divert everyone’s attention from their nuclear program. But this doesn’t make sense even if Iran’s leadership is stocked to the rafters with morons. In what way would ordering their known proxy to start a war with Israel divert everyone’s attention from the fact that Iran is a dangerous regional player and would likely become even more dangerous if it had nuclear weapons? Surely it would accomplish exactly the opposite?
A second theory holds that Hezbollah’s attack was a shot across the bow, Iran’s way of showing that if the pressure on its nuclear program continues it has ways of fighting back. This makes more sense, but seems to have less traction among the punditocracy than the “diversion” theory.
Is there a third theory?
UPDATE: I was focused here solely on the conventional wisdom that Iran ordered (or approved or went along with) Hezbollah’s attacks, but Greg Sargent adds an obvious alternative: namely that Iran wasn’t behind Hezbollah’s attacks in the first place. Obviously nobody knows for sure, but Greg points to a New York Times piece on Saturday suggesting that U.S. intelligence has found “little evidence that the Hezbollah raid…was ordered by Tehran, or that Iran is directly coordinating the steady attacks on Israeli targets.” Caveat emptor.