The world should not make the mistake of believing that Israel’s menacing rhetoric toward Lebanon is a separate issue from Israel’s threatening attitude toward Iran.
Israel has made it quite clear that in any future conflict with Hezbollah, Israel will regard the Lebanese government as being responsible for Hezbollah’s actions. This means that any attack Israel launches against Hezbollah will now include action against all of Lebanon and Lebanon’s armed forces.
Since Israel now regards Hezbollah as an integral part of the Lebanese government, any future war launched by Israel to destroy Hezbollah will have to involve a full-on invasion – which, of course, is what the Israelis have always wanted to do and have attempted a number of times before. But next time it will different. Next time the Israelis invade Lebanon it will be with overwhelming force and the resulting occupation of southern Lebanon up to the Litani River will likely be permanent.
The one obstacle to Israel’s stance against Hezbollah is Iran. Iran supports Hezbollah with massive amounts of financial aid and military hardware. It is quite clear that Israel’s strategy is to find a casus belli with which to launch an attack against either Lebanon or Iran. If Israel finds, or creates, a cause to attack Lebanon first then it will likely attack Iran soon after based on the notion that Iran is clearly supporting Lebanon by providing Hezbollah with weapons and possibly even men. If, on the other hand, Israel decides to launch a so-called ‘unilateral pre-emptive’ attack against Iran (there will be nothing at all ‘unilateral’ about such an attack; the US will actually be up to their ears in it) then Israel will launch an attack against Lebanon claiming that it would need to prevent retaliatory attacks on Israel by Hezbollah. Either way, when push comes to shove, Israel will want to be killing more than one bird in such a conflict.
Naturally, Israel will also want to take care of Hamas in the Gaza Strip at the same time as it launches any attack against Hezbollah.
Once committed to war, the US will have no alternative but to support Israel and will abandon all pretence about wanting to find a diplomatic way out of its differences with Iran.
Israel’s rhetoric against Hezbollah and Iran are yet again beginning to converge and is becoming heightened. It’s has happened before and such a final confrontation type war has only been avoided in the past because Israel was unable to find a strong enough casus belli to justify it.
While the US is still insisting that a diplomatic solution be found to Iran’s so-called ‘nuclear weapons program’ in order to satisfy US public opinion which would not support an American attack against Iran, the US knows full well that in fact Iran has no such ‘nuclear weapons program’. This can only mean then that the US is keeping the ‘Iran has nuclear weapons’ card up its sleeve to use when Israel decides its ready to launch its final confrontation with Iran. If all goes to plan, the Israelis hope by the end of it to be in southern Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and even possibly the West Bank permanently while the US will hope that a short sharp but brutal onslaught will bring about regime change in Iran.