There seems to be a war brewing in the Middle East, if not on the battlefield at least in the political realm.

The Wall Street Journal and many others report tension between the U.S. and Israel over a potential strike on Iran.  There also is tension over the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist, with Hillary Clinton taking the unusual step of issuing a categorical denial of U.S. involvement, and a conveniently and questionable article in Foreign Policy magazine claiming Israel under the Bush administration ran a “false flag” operation with anti-regime elements pretending to be Americans.

Needless to say, anything that can be stuffed into an “Israel Lobby” theory has the wacky Juan Cole delighted.

It is hard to know whether Israel actually ran a false flag operation, whether we actually cared about it, or whether as a blogger at Firedoglake notes, it was all just convenient for everyone:

Israelis and Americans have long hidden behind each other when working with Iranians, going back at least to the Iran-Contra ops that Dick Cheney had a fondness for. Hiding behind Israelis lets American officials pretend we’re not doing the taboo things we’re doing. Hiding behind Americans lets Iranian partners working with Israelis pretend they aren’t working with the Zionist enemy. That false flag business works in many different directions, after all.

One of the more curious developments is that Israeli plans to shut down its nuclear reactor at Dimona to protect it in case of war, since the magnitude of Iranian, Syrian, Hezbollah and Hamas rocket arsenals may overwhelm the reactor’s multi-layered defenses.  It is unclear if the process has started, will start before a strike, or if the announcement is more of a psychological play to tell the Iranians that Israel will not be deterred by the Iranian threat to destroy the reactor if attacked.

Things are getting more interesting, but murkier by the day.

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