Say what you will about Hizbullah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, but at least give him credit for his consummate skills in political messaging.
Next week’s press conference, in which the entire world will be treated to what Nasrallah has called “material evidence” that Israel was behind the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, is something of a cross between a WikiLeaks media scandal and the finale of American Idol. Hizbullah is not content to simply pass on its evidence to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon; the whole point of the exercise is to reshape public opinion in Lebanon, in a made-for-TV special.
The result of this effort will be that the Lebanese will have two different sources of authority on the question of who killed Rafiq al-Hariri. Just as the old binaries of the 2005-09 period were fading away (March 14 vs. March 8, loyalists vs. opposition, etc.), a new one has arisen to take their place. “Do you believe the U.N. or Hizbullah?” is what we’ll ask each other. “Which story is more convincing? Which evidence is more compelling? If both organizations aired their findings in primetime specials on two different channels, which one would you watch live and which one would you TiVo?”