July 6, 2007

Just asking...

This LA Times editorial brought out the mischief in me:

A FAVORITE Washington fantasy this summer is that clever U.S. diplomacy might somehow succeed in splitting Syria from its current patron, Iran. The dream is a bipartisan indulgence — and probably quixotic. Instead, the United States and its allies would do better to turn quickly to the urgent matter of preventing war between Syria and Israel. [Why? I'm not saying we shouldn't do so, but why, exactly?]

War fears have been fanned by a notable Syrian arms buildup. Damascus has purchased surface-to-surface missiles, antitank weapons and sophisticated air-defense systems. It is also believed to have received Iranian funds to pay Russia for missiles and a reported $1-billion purchase of five advanced MIG-31E fighter jets. [So you are saying we should prevent a war until Syria completes its arms build-up? To make things more "fair" perhaps?] Syria denies Israeli reports that it is rearming Hezbollah, whose weapons stores were depleted during its war with Israel last summer. But a recent report to the U.N. Security Council warned that poor security along the Syrian-Lebanese border allows arms smuggling to Hezbollah to continue. [No sensible person doubts that Syria is re-arming Hezbollah terrorists. So why, EXACTLY, is it in our interest to prevent them getting what they deserve?]

Even more ominously, Syria has hinted that if Israel continues to spurn its offers to restart peace talks on the return of the Golan Heights, perhaps a war to retake the Golan might be its only option. [This is backwards. It is only the threat of war that forces Israel to hold on to the Golan. Without it they are much more vulnerable to Syrian attack.] The Bush administration has been opposed to Israeli-Syrian peace talks, which it sees as undermining its campaign to isolate and punish Syria. Israelis are divided on the matter, but so far their government has opted not to pursue talks — perhaps using U.S. resistance as a convenient excuse. [Perhaps. perhaps not. You have yet to present the slightest shred of evidence that Syria is interested in peace. They are the war-mongers here.]

At last month's meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, President Bush finally stepped aside and said Israel was free to conduct whatever negotiations it wished with Syria — but the U.S. would not take part. That lessens prospects for peace, because an Israeli-Syrian pact is unlikely without U.S. mediation, or at least Washington's blessing. U.S. attempts to isolate Damascus have failed, and Syria's economy boomed last year despite U.S. sanctions and a steady decline in oil production. Is it worth risking war merely to keep Israel from talking to its longtime enemy? [We are already IN a war. It's known as the Global War on Terror. Syria is our ENEMY. It is a terror-supporting state, and the enemy of all peace-loving people. So WHY should we care if they are thrashed by Israel? Which side are you on here, Mr LAT?]

Meanwhile, opportunities mount for miscalculation. Israel does not want to appear weak in the eyes of Syria, nor does it want Damascus to fear an Israeli attack. Syria might not want war either, but it has reason for paranoia given its provocative role in supporting the Fatah al Islam militants and Hezbollah in Lebanon. [And it's in our interests for these evils to continue? Why?] Beirut or Gaza might easily provide the spark for a disastrous new Middle East war, perhaps fought by proxies. [Why would it be "disastrous?" Just asking.]

Some analysts say Syria would not go to war against Israel without Iranian approval. But who wants to gamble on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's calculations of Iran's national interest? Diplomacy and deterrence [Sorry to throw a new concept at you, but deterrence is based on the threat of war. If you are afraid to go to war, you have little or no deterrence.] are a safer bet. [We are in a war on terror, and IRAN is the number-one terror supporting state. So WHY is it in our interest to prop-up their client, Syria? ]


Posted by John Weidner at July 6, 2007 7:36 PM
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