I'm starting to think that Israel is attempting to use annealing to break through the tensions with Iran's nuclear program by intentionally luring them into battle. A return attack that disables Iran would then be "justified", and there would be less backlash from the US/UN than if Israel were to use an unprovoked preemptive attack.
I believe this based upon how eager Israel has been to destroy civilian targets in Lebanon as "retribution", well beyond what would be necessary to limit Hezbollah's fighting efficacy. Israel is also testing the limits of what they can get away with and still retain support from the US and key allies in the UN. Here are some key quotes from the recent Washington Post article:
The leader of Hezbollah, Hasan Nasrallah, subsequently threatened to engage in "open war" against Israel. ... the Israeli military was attempting to force the government "to deploy its army in south Lebanon, take responsibility for the kidnapped, return them" and fulfill a U.N. resolution calling for the disarmament of Hezbollah.Israel isn't trying to wipe out the resistance, they know they can't but they've been able to "contain" the local resistance much better than they've contained Iran's nuclear capabilities. Instead Israel's recent stance is a gambit intended to give Israel justification for destroying the recent buildup of power that other areas in the Middle East have aggressively pursued. For comparison, read here for details on the 1981 attack of the Iraq Osirak reactor. Here's a notable quote that solidifies my theory regarding Iran, though I'd love to discuss in more detail with people who were cognizant when this actually happened.
The president of Iran warned Israel that any assault on Syria would be perceived as an attack on the entire Islamic world, and would be met with a "crushing response," wire services reported.
Noha Ibrahim, 48, interrupted him. "They want to wipe out the resistance, and that's impossible,"
At the time, the attack was widely criticized. Israel responded that its actions were self-defensive and thus justifiable under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Many critics, however, rejected the idea of "pre-emptive self-defense". France, in particular, was outraged over the loss of a French national as a result of the attack, and since the raid diplomatic ties between France and Israel have remained strained.Update: An interesting viewpoint of why the situation is escalating.
Update: An editorial from the Israeli perspective helps broaden the picture so we see that both sides are being monstrous.
Update: An earlier article by Digby which I just now read takes these ideas further:
"...I would not find it suprising for the Bush administration hard liners to work in concert with the Israeli hard-liners to gin up a crisis that ends up "requiring" action against Iran. It is to the political advantage of both groups to do so. I certainly don't know that this has happened but from watching this administration operate for the past six years I do know that it could happen. And that's scary enough."