A lot of people are scratching their heads about just what exactly Israel and/or the neo-cons hope to achive from the current conflict in Lebanon.
Juan Cole speculates:
Even an Iranian nuke, of course, would not be an immediate threat to the US, in the absence of ICBMs. But the major US ally in the Middle East, Israel, would be vulnerable to a retaliatory Iranian strike if the US took military action against Iran in order to overthrow the regime and gain the proprietary deals for themselves.From Informed Comment.
In the short term, Iran was protected by another ace in the hole. It had a client in the Levant, Lebanon's Hizbullah, and had given it a few silkworm rockets, which could theoretically hit Israeli nuclear and chemical facilities. Hizbullah increasingly organizes the Lebanese Shiites, and the Lebanese Shiites will in the next ten to twenty years emerge as a majority in Lebanon, giving Iran a commercial hub on the Mediterranean.
China and India could get Iran, and Iran could get Lebanon, and as non-OPEC energy production decreases, the US and Israel could find themselves out in the cold on the energy front...
It may be that that hawks are thinking this way: Destroy Lebanon, and destroy Hizbullah, and you reduce Iran's strategic depth. Destroy the Iranian nuclear program and you leave it helpless and vulnerable to having done to it what the Israelis did to Lebanon. You leave it vulnerable to regime change, and a dragooning of Iran back into the US sphere of influence, denying it to China and assuring its 500 tcf of natural gas to US corporations. You also politically reorient the entire Gulf, with both Saddam and Khamenei gone, toward the United States. Voila, you avoid peak oil problems in the US until a technological fix can be found, and you avoid a situation where China and India have special access to Iran and the Gulf.
The second American Century ensues. The "New Middle East" means the "American Middle East."
And it all starts with the destruction of Lebanon.
More wars to come, in this scenario, since hitting Lebanon was like hitting a politician's bodyguard. You don't kill a bodyguard just to kill the bodyguard. It is phase I of a bigger operation.