Gobsmacked. That was the word that sprang to mind as the Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on global TV news that he would not have kidnapped the two Israeli soldiers if he knew how strongly Israel would respond.

“Why is he saying this, and who is leaning on him?” asked Henry’s house guest, a globally acclaimed philosopher.

The Oz reports, and provides an immediate answer. “In an interview widely seen as a bid to placate Lebanese who were hostile to the war and its consequences, Nasrallah adopted an almost apologetic tone and pledged a long-term commitment to the ceasefire.” This is a plausible theory, but amounts to an admission that the Israelis won the war after all.

On the bigger Middle Eastern canvas, “The west should concede defeat” advises Anatole Kaletsky in The Times, as presented by The Oz. “Stop issuing threats and bring Tehran back into the civilised world”.

Is it possible that both sides in this struggle have looked into the future in the form of the struggle in South Lebanon and decided the cost is simply too great? Kaletsky points out that Iran controls the Straits of Hormuz and could stop much of the flow of oil to the west. This would inflict immense damage on the global economy. Our dear leaders will listen to this logic, even if they are not much disturbed by the thought of piles of debris glowing quietly in the dark throughout the Middle East.

The downgrading of a hurricane to a mere severe storm in the Gulf of Mexico — reinforced by these signs of rationality in the Middle East — reduced the price of oil overnight. If this trend continues, recent fears of simultaneous US recession and inflation will dissipate and the west’s relentless pursuit of economic prosperity can resume.

Read more at Henry Thornton.