Today’s Washington Post featured an editorial page attack on Iran which deserves a rebuttal. The editorial denounces the visit made last week by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to southern Lebanon. In a speech he said that the “Zionists will disappear” and “occupied Palestine will be liberated from the filth of the occupation by the power of the resistance…” The Post regards the timing and venue for the comments as “suggestive” as the Shiite Hezbollah militia has a supply of thousands of missiles aimed at Israel, so “Tehran can use its client to trigger a new war in the Middle East at any time.” This would be “a lesser form of the intimidation that it hopes to exercise around the region with an arsenal of nuclear weapons.” The editorial concludes that Iran is demonstrating its ability to “intervene” in Lebanon and to disrupt any peace settlement between Israel and Palestine or Syria while “not giving up its ambition to exercise hegemony over the Middle East.”
Quite a lot to digest. One does not have to be an apologist for Iran to note that the editorial is a whole lot of innuendo wrapped in speculation. In reality, Iran has not attacked any neighbor or triggered any war either directly or by proxy while it has been Israel that has been doing all the attacking. If Hezbollah uses the missiles it undoubtedly has it would be because it is attacked by Israel. Most people would consider that defensive. Israel is indeed occupying most of Palestine illegally and invoking the power of the resistance to drive them out is hardly wildly extreme language. Saying the Zionists will disappear is far from a call to war no matter how it is mistranslated while the alleged ambition of Iran including nuclear weapons and a desire for dominance of the whole Middle East is unsupported by anything that we know or that is actually taking place. But the most humorous line in the editorial has to be the reference to disrupting a possible “peace settlement” between Israel and the Palestinians. Can even the Washington Post really believe that fantasy? The Potemkin village peace talks are designed more to help Obama on November 2nd than to reach any agreement while it is clear that Israel wants peace only after the last settlement takes up the last remaining bit of Palestinian land.