Iran apologists were all over the internet yesterday claiming that Iran and its allies had nothing to do with the attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, but evidence is mounting that they were wrong. U.S. officials have fingered Hezbollah as being responsible for the attack. The NY Times reports:
The attacks, the official said, were in retaliation for the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, for which Iran has blamed Israeli agents — an accusation that Israel has neither confirmed nor denied. “This was tit for tat,” said the American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still under way.
Sometimes it takes a while to figure out who was responsible for what, and it’s possible that later evidence could change the picture again. Still, a couple of points are worth keeping in mind:
First, the Obama administration has zero interest in blaming Hezbollah unfairly. Washington is desperate to keep Israel from attacking Iran’s nuclear program. An Iran-backed terror strike against Israel invites reprisals and is just what the White House wants to prevent.
Second, if Hezbollah was involved, it was certainly acting as an arm of Iran. Hezbollah at the moment is in huge trouble. The fall of the Assad government would leave it totally exposed to its many enemies in Lebanon; the Gulf Arabs, Israel and the West all want to see its state-within-a-state weakened. This is not the time for Hezbollah to be inviting international pressure. However, these same factors make Hezbollah more dependent on Iran than ever. There is no reasonable motive for it to mount an attack like this unless it was obeying instructions from Tehran, and there’s no way it would get involved in something like this right now without making sure that Tehran was okay with it.
If the current indications hold up that Hezbollah was involved in this vicious attack, the mullahs in Tehran bear the responsibility. Israel and others affected by this attack have the right to take whatever steps they deem most likely to enhance the security of their citizens; that may not at this point mean direct retaliatory strikes against Iran. A huge and complicated regional effort to clip Tehran’s wings, push its influence back, isolate it, and force it to abandon its nuclear program is under way. A tactical response to terrorism should not undermine the strategic goal of ending Iran’s threat to regional security, but this attack gives all the more reason to believe that a nuclear Iran is an unacceptable danger.
As FDR put it more than seventy years ago, you can’t turn a tiger into a kitten by stroking it.