Sunday, July 23, 2006

Cheney/Rumsfeld Lebanon Skullduggery

From Juan Cole:

The Bush administration's perceived economic and geopolitical interests ... overlap strongly with Israel's perceived security interests, with both benefiting from an Israeli destruction of Hizbullah. It is not impossible that the US Pentagon urged the Israelis on in this endeavor. They certainly knew about and approved of the plan.

What is scary is that Cheney and Rumsfeld don't appear to have let W. in on the whole thing. They told him that Bashar al-Asad of Syria stirred up a little trouble because he was afraid that Iraq the Model and the Lebanese Cedar Revolution might be such huge successes that they would topple him by example (just as, after Poland and the Czech Velvet Revolution, other Eastern European strongmen fell). (Don't fall down laughing at the idea of Iraq and Lebanon as Republican Party success stories; people in Washington, DC, cocoon a lot and have odd ideas about the way the world is.) So, Bush thought, if that is all that is going on, then someone just needs to call al-Asad and reassure him that we're not going to take him out, and get him to rein in Hizbullah. And then the war would suddenly stop. No one told Bush that this war was actually an Israeli war of choice and that al-Asad had nothing to do with it, that, indeed, it could only happen because al-Asad is already irrelevant.

That is why Administration hopes of using the Israeli attempt to destroy Hezbollah as a wedge to convince Syria to give up rejectionism and detach itself from Iran are crazy.

Syria is not going to give up its stance toward Israel unless it at the very least gets back the occupied Golan Heights. That is non-negotiable for Damascus. Since the Israeli Right is diehard opposed to making that deal, Israel will go on occupying part of Syrian soil. Syria cannot accept that outcome. Likewise, the Allawi regime faces a powerful challenge from the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood. The high Baath officials would be afraid that if they made peace with Israel and got nothing out of it for Syria, there would be a mass popular Islamist uprising. A separate peace that leaves the Palestinians to the Israelis' tender mercies would also stick in the craw of the Syrian public. The administration plan will fail.


The chief outcome of the "war on terror" has been the proliferation of asymmetrical challengers. Israel's assault on the very fabric of the Lebanese state seems likely to weaken or collapse it and further that proliferation. Since asymmetrical challengers often turn to terrorism as a tactic, the "war on terror" has been, at the level of political society below that of high politics and the state, the most efficient engine for the production of terrorism in history.

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