Bloggers on the death of a Hezbollah terrorist.

Bloggers on the death of a Hezbollah terrorist.

Bloggers on the death of a Hezbollah terrorist.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Feb. 14 2008 5:21 PM

Mughniyah's End

Bloggers shed no tears for Hezbollah leader Imad Mughniyah, applaud Steven Spielberg for backing out of the China Olympics, and, if they're conservative, thank Romney for backing McCain.

Mughniyah's end: Long wanted for his role in a host of gruesome terrorist attacks spanning from Buenos Aires to Beirut, Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyah was killed Tuesday night in a car bombing in Damascus. Everyone's ecstatic that Hezbollah's "director of operations" has given up the ghost, but most wonder who was responsible.

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"In the John Le Carre world of Middle East terrorism and politics," writes Scott MacLeod of Time's Middle East blog, "it's impossible to rule out the wildest of conspiracy theories, including that Mughniyeh's friends in Syria or Iran may have found his continued existence to be an inconvenience. Or, they may have believed it was politically useful to demonstrate that they can be relied on to control terrorism in the Middle East—as long as the U.S. doesn't try to go after the regimes in Damascus or Tehran."


At Small Wars Journal, Bill Roggio says: "The method of assassination—by booby-trapped automobile—strongly suggests that Israel is responsible." Pro-Israel blogger Meryl Yourish concurs in a post that rounds up many stories about Mughniyah: "If the reports about Israel having a mole in the nuclear facility were accurate and now this, it would suggest that Israel has rather advanced covert operations in Syria right now."

Noah Pollak at Commentary's contentions thinks Israel probably did it. He rules out the Syrian regime itself because "the bombing happened in the heart of Damascus … an extraordinarily well-surveilled city, and the Assad regime is fanatical about internal security. Even if somehow the Syrians did decide that they needed to kill Mughniyeh, doing so in Damascus, or even elsewhere in Syria, would be an unimaginably stupid way to carry it out."

Michael Ledeen at Faster, Please! doubts "we did it. Indeed, I rather suspect that CIA was bound and determined NOT to go after Mughniyah, even though there was a bounty on his head. I know of several instances in which CIA vetoed proposals from well-placed people who claimed to be able to kill or capture Mughniyah, and I have spoken to government officials in Washington who were astonished at the Agency's lack of vigor. Nonetheless, I have no doubt we will hear from several "experts" that it was a CIA operation." Ledeen also wonders whether Iran was involved.

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Noting that Hezbollah is indeed blaming Israel and calling for "open war," conservative Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs retorts: " 'Open war.'  That would be opposed to the cowardly sneak attack sort of war they have been waging for decades."

Read more about Mughniyah's assassination.

Passing the torch: Steven Spielberg has backed out of being the artistic adviser for the upcoming Beijing Olympics, citing China's role in perpetuating the genocide in Darfur. The Communist government hit back saying that, "Empty rhetoric will not help. What's more important is to help peace programs and eliminate humanitarian crises."

Mia Farrow, who put the original pressure to quit on Spielberg, is pleased: "Let us hope that Mr. Spielberg's decisive action will influence other participants, sponsors, and supporters of the Olympic Games to drop out. This is the time to increase pressure on Beijing, the host country to the Olympics, and tragically, the underwriter of the Darfur genocide."

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Richard Just at the New Republics's Plank was troubled by Spielberg's statement: "While condemning China for its actions in Sudan, Spielberg made no mention of China's actions anywhere else—as if Darfur were the only reason one might think twice about serving as a propagandist for the Beijing Olympics. … Look, I suppose it's possible Spielberg was unaware of China's role in Darfur before early 2007. But was he also unaware of China's role in China?"

Iain Martin at the Telegraph's Three Line Whip picks up on this official response from the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao: "It is understandable if some people do not understand the Chinese government policy on Darfur, but I am afraid that some people may have ulterior motives, and this we cannot accept." Martin responds: "I see now, it is our understanding that is at fault. Perhaps we could be sent to a re-education camp so that we properly understand."

Kempton at Ideas Revolution is "conflicted because I support the engagement of China while I am also happy to hear that Mr. Steven Spielberg has stood firm and made an important statement that the Chinese government cannot ignore. … To me, China has the economic and political influence to lead to positive changes in Sudan and help end the tragic genocide in Darfur."

Read more about Spielberg and the Beijing Olympics.

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Eat it, Rush: Mitt Romney agreed today to endorse John McCain. Righties are pleased.

According to Right Pundits, "Sen. McCain's only option in winning over conservative voters was to get the endorsement of Gov. Romney. Today's endorsement is precisely what Senator McCain needed to be seen as a serious contender by conservatives across the country."

And the Conservative V.O.I.C.E. submits: "As much as the Republicans have had things going against them recently, these two acts by Romney seem to have us pointing in the right direction. There's nothing better than to see the house of cards fall around the Democrats when they could have most likely secured the Presidency in 2008."

Michelle Malkin calls it a Valentine's gift, and Paul Mirengoff at Power Line says that "Romney casts himself in a good light with this move."

Read more about Romney's McCain endorsement.

Michael Weiss is the director of communications at the Henry Jackson Society, a London-based think tank that promotes democratic geopolitics. He is also the spokesman for Just Journalism, which examines how Israel and the Middle East are portrayed in the U.K. media.