Tuesday September 17, 2013
In 2006 the U.S. was at war in Iraq. Some of the enemy forces it very much struggled to fight against were coming in through Syria. The same year Israel lost a war against Hizbullah. Its armored forces were ambushed whenever they tried to push deeper into Lebanon while Hizbullah managed to continuously fire rockets against Israeli army position and cities. Hizbullah receives supply for its missile force from Syria and from Iran through Syria. Its long-term plans to attack Iran and to thereby keep supremacy in the Middle East depend on severing Hizbullah's supply routes. The sectarian Sunni Gulf countries, mainly Saudi Arabia, saw their Sunni brethren defeat in Iraq and a Shia government, supported by Iran, taking over the country.
All these countries had reason to fight Syria. There were also economic reasons to subvert an independent Syria. A gas pipeline from Qatar to Turkey was competing with one from Iran to Syria. Large finds of natural gas in the coastal waters of Israel and Lebanon make such finds in Syrian waters quite plausible.
In late 2006 the United States started to finance an external opposition to Syria's ruling Baath party. Those exiles were largely members of the Muslim Brotherhood which had been evicted from Syria after their bloody uprising against the Syrian state between 1976 and 1982 had failed. In 2007 a plan for regime change in Syria was agreed upon between the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia. The aim was to destroy the "resistance" alliance of Hizbullah, Syria and Iran:
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
Here’s a recipe for disaster: Take a young man (or woman), raise him on a diet of violence, hype him up on the power of the gun in his holster and the superiority of his uniform, render him woefully ignorant of how to handle a situation without resorting to violence, train him well in military tactics but allow him to be illiterate about the Constitution, and never stress to him that he is to be a peacemaker and a peacekeeper, respectful of and subservient to the taxpayers, who are in fact his masters and employers.
Once you have fully indoctrinated this young man (or woman) on the idea that the police belong to a brotherhood of sorts, with its own honor code and rule of law, then place this person in situations where he will encounter individuals who knowingly or unknowingly challenge his authority, where he may, justifiably or not, feel threatened, and where he will have to decide between firing a weapon or, the more difficult option, adequately investigating a situation in order to better assess the danger and risk posed to himself and others, and then act on it by defusing the tension or de-escalating the violence.
The past ten days have seen what could be the start of an historic turning point away from endless war in the Middle East. Public opinion in the United States, in harmony with the majority of people in the world, has clearly rejected U.S. military intervention in Syria.
But for this turn away from war to be complete and lasting, greater awareness is needed of the forces that have been pushing the United States into these wars, and will surely continue to do so until they are clearly and openly rejected.
An American friend who knows Washington well recently told us that “everybody” there knows that, as far as the drive to war with Syria is concerned, it is Israel that directs U.S. policy. Why then, we replied, don’t opponents of war say it out loud, since, if the American public knew that, support for the war would collapse? Of course, we knew the answer to that question. They are afraid to say all they know, because if you blame the pro-Israel lobby, you are branded an anti-Semite in the media and your career is destroyed.
President Obama has encountered a series of roadblocks after deciding to use military force against Bashar Assad’s Syria for its use of chemical weapons against civilians. Many of those obstacles resulted from statements made by the President and prominent administration officials; a principal one was the failure to talk candidly and plainly to Congress and the American public about the likely scope of planned military attacks.
Repeatedly, Obama and other officials called the military actions as limited, tailored, surgical, and proportional, and they downplayed the level of violence.
The adjectives were unpersuasive because the administration contemplated sending in dozens of cruise missiles into Damascus, followed perhaps by aircraft bombings. Many lawmakers and their constituents found the administration’s over-optimistic and unrealistic word play to be deliberate efforts to mislead and deceive.