The Bush administration was “closely involved in the planning of Israel?s retaliatory attacks” on Hezbollah, the inestimable Seymour Hersh alleges in the New Yorker. Furthermore, writes Hersh, Bush & Co. saw the Israeli attacks “as a prelude to a potential American preemptive attack to destroy Iran?s nuclear installations.” Administration officials have denied the charges. Read the whole thing.

The mind-blowing thing in this report: Bush apparently still believes he will be able to launch a war against Iran. (Then again, people’s memories being what they are, Bush just might get away with it.)

New Yorker:

In the days after Hezbollah crossed from Lebanon into Israel, on July 12th, to kidnap two soldiers, triggering an Israeli air attack on Lebanon and a full-scale war, the Bush Administration seemed strangely passive. ?It?s a moment of clarification,? President George W. Bush said at the G-8 summit, in St. Petersburg, on July 16th. ?It?s now become clear why we don?t have peace in the Middle East.? He described the relationship between Hezbollah and its supporters in Iran and Syria as one of the ?root causes of instability,? and subsequently said that it was up to those countries to end the crisis. Two days later, despite calls from several governments for the United States to take the lead in negotiations to end the fighting, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that a ceasefire should be put off until ?the conditions are conducive.?

The Bush Administration, however, was closely involved in the planning of Israel?s retaliatory attacks. President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney were convinced, current and former intelligence and diplomatic officials told me, that a successful Israeli Air Force bombing campaign against Hezbollah?s heavily fortified underground-missile and command-and-control complexes in Lebanon could ease Israel?s security concerns and also serve as a prelude to a potential American preëmptive attack to destroy Iran?s nuclear installations, some of which are also buried deep underground.

Israeli military and intelligence experts I spoke to emphasized that the country?s immediate security issues were reason enough to confront Hezbollah, regardless of what the Bush Administration wanted. Shabtai Shavit, a national-security adviser to the Knesset who headed the Mossad, Israel?s foreign-intelligence service, from 1989 to 1996, told me, ?We do what we think is best for us, and if it happens to meet America?s requirements, that?s just part of a relationship between two friends. Hezbollah is armed to the teeth and trained in the most advanced technology of guerrilla warfare. It was just a matter of time. We had to address it.?


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