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Nasrallah’s Folly

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The Washington Post’s Anthony Shadid reconstructs the Hezbollah’s miscalculations which led to the Israel-Hezbollah war.

Key graphs, on a June 29 bewteen the leaders of most of Lebanon’s many factions:

“I can reach Haifa and beyond Haifa,” Nasrallah was quoted as answering them, according to Marwan Hamadeh, the telecommunications minister and a critic of Hezbollah who took part in the dialogue. Israel would not risk a Hezbollah missile attack, Nasrallah added, which could strike its petrochemical industry and the northern third of the country, including some of its most populated regions.

At the time, much of the talk was hypothetical. Participants were put at ease by what they took as Nasrallah’s reassurance that nothing would disrupt the crucial tourist season, one of the Mediterranean country’s lone patches of economic vitality. “He said this summer would be a quiet summer,” Hamadeh recalled. “He said all the actions they would do would be reminders of their presence.”

But almost as a footnote in Nasrallah’s speech was a reiteration of a promise he had made many times before: the need to capture Israeli soldiers as leverage to win the release of three Lebanese prisoners. Hezbollah had tried before, in November 2005.

“He didn’t say it to take approval,” said Boutros Harb, a member of parliament, who sat three seats away from Nasrallah. Harb flicked his wrist in a flippant gesture. “He mentioned it like you’d write in the margins of a text.”

“It didn’t draw the attention of anyone at all.”

Given the sort of blunder Nasrallah made and its consequences, imagine what will follow when his sponsors in Iran make a similar miscalculation about Israel or the West?

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