Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

We're Gunning for you, Syria

If you look at the rhetoric that surrounds Syrian cooperation (or the lack of it) in the investigation of the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri, it sounds a lot like the rhetoric we used before the Iraq war. Today the US and France announced joint support for a U.N. report implicating Syrian officials in the assassination of Rafik Hariri, former Lebanese Prime Minister. Reports are that the US and France are also working on a joint resolution that will demand Syria's cooperation as the inquiry proceeds. The US has already levied sanctions against Syria. France is not yet in favor of sanctions. But concerns in France about being a terrorist target and memories of its own history in the Levant may lead them to follow the US lead should Syria fail to cooperate.

What we are witnessing is a growing crisis that will have huge consequences. Syria may well fall into chaos and revolution. There is growing opposition to the ruling regime inside Syria. And this opposition in emboldened by the UN investigation. Proof that something is afoot came last week when Syrian interior minister, Ghazi Kanaan turned up dead. He was a nasty guy, a member of the ruling elite (i.e. read minority group and Baathist party official), known to be ruthless. He was quite unloved by the Lebanese because he was a key player in turning Lebanon into a Syrian satellite state. UN investigators were swirling around him in the Hariri investigation. An hour before he was found dead, he called a Lebanese radio station claiming that he hadn't passed files over to the UN and ended the call by saying, "This may well be the last statement I give." So no doubt someone took him out. The question is who and how much closer to President Assad will the UN investigation get.

This weakens an already seriously undermined government. Bashar Assad sits hemmed in by the US on one side and Israel on the other. Its Arab partners are fed up with it. Lebanese opposition is crystallizing. At home, there is growing resentment of Assad's clan. And you have some of the same players in Syria as in Iraq and Lebanon that would love to start a revolution. There are Kurds, Druz, and possibly Sunni terrorists groups that are now turning their activities onto Syria.

Stay tuned because we could be seeing the fall of yet another Arab regime, a fall no doubt hastened by covert US and Israeli action. And then we will be in another Iraq spiral where there a huge power vacuum with either the military ready to step in or civil war.


Anonymous said...

Yes, that interior minister's suicide seemed a lot like that of Rommel. The kind where a couple of guys in trench coats show up and give him a choice between suicide or a show trial followed by the total destruction of his family. Very Roman really.  

// posted by Raised By Republicans

US West said...

If the death of Ghazi Kanaan is like that of Rommel, then the death of Hariri may be like that of Archduke Fardinand. And let's remember that the US can hardly handle another military intervention at the moment.

Anonymous said...

And if what US West speculates is true, do you really think it might evole into a World War? Is there that much possibility, that the surrounding countries would be up for it? US West, you may be right about the U.S. not being able to handle another military intervention, but I sure wouldn't put is pass the Republicans to push for it. The U.S. is already in over its head with Iraq and this possible intervention doesn't seem any different, if you look at it from what we possible gain by getting openly involved. 

// posted by Siddharthawolf

Anonymous said...

I don't see this as a casus belli. The fact that Syria has done bad things is a cause for criminal charges in the Hague, economic sanctions, diplomatic isolation, etc. However, there is no danger (such as weapons of mass destruction) that would even remotely justify self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter, nor security action by the Security Council. 

// posted by LTG

Dr. Strangelove said...

I think US West's post is right on the money, except for one thing: the U.S. military is stretched thin, yes, but would still be capable of invading and occupying Syria even while maintaining our current presence in Iraq.

I have been predicting since March, 2003 that the U.S. will uncover a clear link between terrorists trained and funded by Syria, and attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq. And that would be causus belli.

I suspect we already have these links. We may be threatening to use them. If a good case can be made that Syria is a threat to its neighbors (Israel, Iraq, and Lebanon), and is also arming terrorists with modern weaponry, the U.S. could use that as a reason to invade.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I think our military is more than capable of doing two half-assed occupations at once. Especially of neighboring countries. Actually, the US is always complaining that support for the insurgents is coming in from Syria (either in the form of people or supplies or both). So I could imagine some in the military aruging that occupying Syria and Iraq together would be easier than occupying either one alone.  

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

I don't think invading Syria would cause a World War. I didn't mean to imply that in my comment about the Arch Duke. What I meant was that it would set of a pretty big chain of events that would change the political make up of the Middle East.

The US will not handle Syria in the same way the did Iraq. We are stretched too thin and I am not sure the Allies would stand for that. In fact, today someone sent me a report from Inter Press Servcice  about how the UN Human Rights Committee heard testimony from US-based human rights organizations denouncing the US for having some 20 "Abu Gharibs" around the world. Now this may be all show. But it is another sign that the US is under more and more international pressure.

The US may try to internationalize their actions in Syria as they have in Afghanistan. That might work if they are willing to wait long enough for nations like France to come around to US thinking. What that means is that the US could not use the "preventative strike" excuse again. Nor could it mount a fake intelligence briefing at the UN Security Council.

What the US would gain is not the question that is really interesting to me. What would Israel gain? That is the big question. The answer is obvious: a more secure border on both the Syrian and the Lebanese front. But I am sure that is not all. Israel might even be able to keep the Golan Heights. The US would have a strategic location from which to monitor operations in Iraq. Look, what is going on is a new type of Monroe Doctrine only the US has now decided to spread its area of influence to the Middle East. At one time, I used to think we were doing to the Middle East what we did to Latin America. The new twist is that we are doing it in a more direct way. We are "taking the fight to them". The excuse is terrorism.

But then I ask myself, would this Administration really go into Syria? Currently, the Administration is in chaos and it has little political capital to spend. GW can delude himself all he wants about having a "mandate" and how we are "making progress". We have 3 years of his Administration left. Would they dare gamble on a like-minded Republican winning 2008 to carry on the fight? With the American public opinion turning solidly against the war in Iraq, I don't think they could hit Syria directly. But they could covertly feed the various factions in a divide and conquer situation.

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

The Middle East - Latin American similiarity is interesting. US policy in Latin America was very militarized in the first half of the 20th century. There were outright US invasions of several Latin American countries in the pre-FDR days. I'm not 100% on the history of that period in that region so if I've got the timing a bit off I apologize.

But it does look like today's GOP wants to turn our domestic clock back to the Gilded Age and I think US West is correctly suggesting that they want to turn back the clock to the Gilded Age in foreign policy too. It makes me wonder at the economic determinants of foreign policy. Are today's oil and construction conglomerates playing the same role that yesterday's agricultural and mining interests played 100 years ago? Hmmm...could be. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

"The US may try to internationalize their actions in Syria as they have in Afghanistan.  "
It's probably a useless hypothetical, but I can't help wondering: suppose the US hadn't invaded Iraq, and that the situation in Syria develops further -- strong intelligence surfaces about Syria's support of terrorists plotting against US targets as well as their activities in Lebanon, for example.

It doesn't seem like this is outside the realm of possibility, and the US could handle it rather like Afghanistan, if we hadn't used up our support and sympathy from the rest of the world with the Iraq invasion. (Not to mention our own military assets.)

Potentially, Syria could turn into a situation where one could argue that we _should_ get involved militarily, but we won't, because Bush has wasted his "political capital" on the wrong war. 

// posted by Bob

Anonymous said...

I wonder that a lot Bob. 

// posted by Raised By Republicans