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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hezbullah threatening nuclear war

Michael Totten notes the presence of a new kind of banner at a recent Hezbullah rally in South Beirut.
Christopher Hitchens recently went to a rally in the suburbs south of Beirut and found Hezbollah ratcheting up its belligerence. “A huge poster of a nuclear mushroom cloud surmounts the scene,” he wrote in the May issue of Vanity Fair, “with the inscription OH ZIONISTS, IF YOU WANT THIS TYPE OF WAR THEN SO BE IT!” Last week James Kirchick reported seeing the same thing at the same rally in City Journal. To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time Hezbollah has threatened nuclear war.

Hezbollah isn’t broadcasting this to the world. If Hitchens and Kirchick hadn’t written about it, few would know the mushroom-cloud banner even exists. It’s not so much a threat as it is a revelation of Hezbollah’s dark psyche. But perhaps Hezbollah’s not shouting “nuclear war” for all to hear means its threats are more dangerous than public taunts from the Iranian government. Empty threats and hyperbole are rife in the Middle East. Death threats are rarely carried out anywhere. Most assassins don’t announce their intentions. They kill their victims without warning. Whatever Hezbollah’s mushroom-cloud banner means, we know this much: intimations of nuclear war with Israel are now coming from Lebanon as well as Iran. The worst case scenario — a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv — might be slightly more likely than some of us thought.
Michael goes on to waffle back and forth between will Iran attack Israel or won't it, what the consequences of an Iranian nuclear umbrella for Hamas and Hezbullah might be, and whether Israel is likely to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iran. He concludes with the following.
I can’t tell whether or not Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike. But let’s assume, for the sake of discussion, that it’s 90 percent likely Iran’s threats of annihilation are just bluster. And let me ask this: How would you feel if your doctor diagnosed you with an illness and said there’s a ten percent chance it will kill you? Would you find 90 percent odds of survival acceptable? Would you sleep peacefully and do nothing and hope for the best? I travel to dangerous places. It’s part of my job. But those odds, for me, are prohibitive. Those odds are almost as bad as the odds in Russian Roulette, and you couldn’t pay me enough to play that game even once.
Michael is generally calm and even-handed in his posts, and one can only hope that this one will somehow find its way into the hands of the President of the United States in the hope that Barack Hussein Obama may finally understand that Binyamin Netanyahu and Israel do not have the same margin of error that the United States has.

But there's a possibility that Michael is apparently ignoring and that is the possibility that Hezbullah is not referring to an Iranian attack, but one of its own - with a 'dirty bomb.' That possibility has been discussed extensively here in Israel, and you can bet that - unlike Iran where there may be hesitations - if Israel gets reliable intelligence that Hezbullah plans to launch a 'dirty bomb' attack, it will attack Hezbullah pre-emptively.

By the way, I don't know whether the picture above is from the same rally to which Hitchens, Kirchick and Michael Totten are referring. But it might be.


At 2:57 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

The greater danger Carl, is that the islamists who largely control Pakistan, have given one or more nukes to their brethren in the 'resistance'. Or the nork's, who are known to be completely untrustworthy, unwilling to honor written agreements and treaties. They would provide a nuke for a fee.

Evidence of a bomb in Hezbullah's or Hamas's possession is, unfortunately for them, cassus belli, in an extreme manner.

If that is the case, Israel needs to put sound blockers in its collective ears, and do what it needs to, in order to make sure that the only explosions that occur are flatulence in the garden with their 72 raisins or 72 virgins or whatever.

The problem is bad enough now. If they escalate ... and we all know they want to ... its going to get really bad.

At least you have a saner leadership in place now.

We in the US do not. And that is enabling the escalation.

At 4:41 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

That's a concern anti-terrorism specialists have written and warned about for decades. Nuclear terrorism with complete plausible denialbility. Iran would be quite foolish to attack Israel directly. But it can quite achieve the same goals through its Hezbollah proxy as it would directly and have "clean hands" to show to the rest of the world. I would bet that if Israel thinks Hezbollah has a nuclear "dirty bomb" in its possession, the next war will be very different from the last one in 2006. Israel is not going to sit around and wait for terrorists to take out an Israeli city first. The Russians could be restrained by talks during the October Missile Crisis because they were a rational actor. Hezbollah is in love with death and the usual rules of deterrence don't apply to it. Hezbollah may be bluffing; maybe not but the way Israel will respond to the terror organization has already changed.

At 9:06 PM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

Although I would bet this has already occurred behind closed doors, Israel needs to put Iran on notice very publicly that if the former is threatened by Hamas or Hezbollah with any N-B-C weapons, it will be viewed as an attack on Israel by Iran. Bibi should give the same type of televised speech made by JFK in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Iran has enjoyed plausible deniability -- in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Argentina -- for far too long.

Let the US and EU hand wringing begin.


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