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Syria And The Risk Of Regional War

The conflict in Syria is pulling in its neighbors, and spreading.  We look at the risk and scenarios of regional war in the Middle East.

Lebanese, Mohammad Awad, 16, is seen through destruction, after a rocket fired by Syrian rebels hit their home and killed his older brother, Loulou Awad, 20, according to villagers, in Hermel town, northeast of Lebanon, Wednesday, May 29, 2013. Shells fire from Syria regularly strike the Lebanese northeastern town of Hermel, a predominantly Shiite town. (AP)

Lebanese, Mohammad Awad, 16, is seen through destruction, after a rocket fired by Syrian rebels hit their home and killed his older brother, Loulou Awad, 20, according to villagers, in Hermel town, northeast of Lebanon, Wednesday, May 29, 2013. Shells fire from Syria regularly strike the Lebanese northeastern town of Hermel, a predominantly Shiite town. (AP)

Syria goes from bad to worse.  Most Americans have been prepared to think of it as the Syrian’s problem – and it certainly is that.  But what if the fight goes regional?

It’s spilling out and over already.  Open fighting in Lebanon.  Turkey pulled in.  Jordan swamped with refugees.  Iraq sending in fighters and getting a backwash of violence.  Israel leaning in, alarmed.  Iran and Saudi Arabia going beyond proxy.  Ancient Shiite, Sunni tensions erupting.

This hour, On Point:  What if?  What if Syria’s fight blows into regional war?  And is it happening already?

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Roula Khalaf, Middle East editor for the Financial Times. (@khalafroula)

Andrew Tabler, senior fellow in the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he focuses on Syria. His forthcoming article in Foreign Affairs is “Syria’s Collapse And How Washington Can Stop It.” Author of “In the Lion’s Den: An Eyewitness Account of Washington’s Battle with Syria.” (@andrewtabler)

Ryan Crocker, served as United States ambassador to Afghanistan (2011-2012), Iraq (2007 to 2009) Pakistan (2004 to 2007), Syria (1998 to 2001), Kuwait (1994 to 1997) and Lebanon (1990 to 1993). Currently a Senior Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times: As Syrians Fight, Sectarian Strife Infects Mideast — “Renewed sectarian killing has brought the highest death toll in Iraq in five years. Young Iraqi scholars at a Shiite Muslim seminary volunteer to fight Sunnis in Syria. Far to the west, in Lebanon, clashes have worsened between opposing sects in the northern city of Tripoli.”

CNN: ‘Open-ended’ Syrian conflict draws in region — “Rocket attacks in Lebanon. Car bombs in Turkey. Israeli airstrikes in Syria. In the two-plus years since President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on “Arab Spring” demonstrations, observers say the civil war that grew out of it has now become a multi-sided conflict that threatens to set the wider Middle East ablaze.”

BBC News: France’s Fabius ‘confirms sarin use’ by Syria regime – “There is no doubt Syria’s government has used sarin during the country’s crisis, says France’s foreign minister. Laurent Fabius said lab tests in Paris confirmed numerous uses of the nerve agent, adding that those who resort to chemical weapons must be punished.”

 

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  • alangig

    there are no, “Good Guys” in this conflict and it looks like this will be Lebanon during the eighties. The Saudis and the Israeli’s will work together to try and keep the status quo while Saudi Arabia spreads its form of extreme Sunni Whabbaism and on the other side, Iran and Russia will support the Shia in order to thwart Saudi while the Russians try to keep saudi out of the Caucausus. As for the region, the borders drawn during the Sykes Picot agreement are certainly going to change. 
    Nobody is really talking about what actually brought about this discontent, ask the IMF and neo liberal economic policies of the last thirty years except the powers that be thought they had the security services to keep control.

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      “Neo liberal economic policies” ?
      What are you talking about ?
      These people are living in a ‘cave of unenlightened philosophy ‘. A universe of perpetual sorrow ! A closed and imploding time like curve that was created by other cave dwellers. What they need to do is stimulate the Right Parietal Lobes of their brains to give them an “out of body experience” and a new perspective!

  • Ed75

    Senator McCain said that if things don’t change a regional conflict is inevitable. The Christians, heavily persecuted, are still fleeing the area. The refugees are a large challenge for neighboring states. Conflict is becoming Sunni versus Shiite.

    Why does it feel like we’re on the edge of war? And just as the West is moving faster and faster toward abortion and general immorality.

    • Shag_Wevera

      It may be a good thing that Christians flee Syria.  As far as the standard abortion throw-in…  whatever.

      • Ed75

        The Christian community was in this area 600 years before Islam, and it traces its roots in the area back to Abraham in Chaldea. The oldest communities are located here.

        I’m reminded of when the Christians fled Jerusalem in AD 65-69 because of a warning in the N.T., and in AD 70 Jerusalem was destroyed, and no Christians were killed, they had all moved across the Jordan.

    • Ray in VT

      Yup, abortion and gay marriage in America are probably playing a role in the conflict in Syria.

      • Ed75

        I’m editing a memoir of a woman who grew up in France during the war – near starvation, etc. One forgets the horrors of war for everyone. And as Mary told the children at Fatima,
        “War is a punishment for sin.”

        • 1Brett1

          Well, they were hysterical children, like those who swear they’ve seen Santa Claus through a half-sleep squint in their eyes in a darkened room…Maybe, just maybe she said, “war is a punishment for war” and they thought she said “sin” at the end?

          Besides, war would be punishment for whom, those who declare war or those who are victimized/suffer loss from it? It’s all so muddled a message/punishment from God, what with some who have sinned getting away unscathed, and others, innocents, feeling the ultimate consequence of war…

          • Ed75

            I would recommend that you read a book about the apparitions of Fatima, there are many good ones. Pope Francis has dedicated his papacy to Our Lady of Fatima (to Mary under this title). Also, Pope John Paul attributed his survival from the assassination attempt to the intervention of Our Lady of Fatima since he was shot on May 13th, the anniversary of the first apparition. Pope Francis said ‘The message of Fatima is more relevant now than it was in 1917′. It’s Mary telling us of our world and its future.

        • Ray in VT

          I see little in history to support such an assertion.  Persia did not invade Greece in the 5th Century B.C., nor did Japan attack Pearl Harbor due to sin.  It may be a nice religious belief, and religious belief can be a factor in going to war, but it bears little resemblence to the motivations of leaders and nations.

          • Ed75

            This happens on a larger scale. Nothing happens without the will of God, so, why would God allow a terrible thing like war? (For wars outside of sacred history, see James 4:1,2). Also, one has to see the human race as a whole, one family: if large sections fall into sin (i.e. crime), war can move us to repentance by its terror and horribleness.

    • 1Brett1

      Man…is it Friday already?

      • Ed75

        Friday? We might not make it to Friday.

        • 1Brett1

          Ed, I have to tell you I had to laugh…and before coffee!

    • Jasoturner

      When it comes to foreign affairs chops, McCain is the gold standard for sure…

  • William

    If the surrounding Arab nations don’t care to try and help these people there is no need for us to become involved in this civil war. 

    • Shag_Wevera

      These nations might be afraid of the local reaction if they take sides.

      • William

         I would think Saudi Arabia would be really worried if another dictator is tossed out.

        • http://www.facebook.com/mhschaefer Michael Hussein Schaefer

           SA would not be worried if the Alawite dictator is tossed out by a conservative Sunni armed faction. SA WOULD be concerned if Assad was tossed out by a democratic revolution a la Tunisia and Egypt. Thus, they give arms to their faction.

      • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

        And the lowering price of oil. 

    • Ray in VT

      As much as I do not want us to become involved in another war in the Middle East, we cannot pretend that events there do not impact us and our allies there.

    • jefe68

      They are involved, it’s a proxy war.

  • Shag_Wevera

    It is possible that a wave of popular revolutions will result in a number of regional governments that are hostile toward us.  It may seem that way already, but their used to be a group of dictators in charge we could sway with cash and weapons.  Popular governments in that region would be much more likely to align with Russia or China than with us.  The question is, can our hegemonistic ego tolerate this insubordination?

  • AC

    ha! i just posted a thought on turkey – my mistake!
    i am horrified they used that serin toxic on people – that’s permanent NEUROLOGICAL damage!!!!
    why? why would you do this?

  • Isernia

    Interesting to read the Asian Times commentator Pepe Escobar on the Syrian issue.  His take is the EU with Britain & France as leaders are arming the rebels with surface to air missiles as a kind of entree for Obama to use US air /weapons come Fall.  Meanwhile 70% of Syrians support Assad.  Our allies in this mess -Quatar and Saudi Arabia are trying to spread Wahabism to stop Shite power.  Turmoil is the result whether we do something or do nothing.  The outcomes are too unpredictable..haven’t we learned this after Iraq and Afghanistan?

  • Coastghost

    Since Obama dismisses quaint notions like national sovereignty and territorial integrity when it suits, maybe Susan Rice in her new job as NSA will help forge a panel to re-draw national boundaries in the region. (Maybe Samantha Powers and Hillary C can contribute to the effort.)
    For one thing what is STILL holding up creation of an independent Kurdistan? Give the Kurds a sliver of eastern Turkey, a good slice of northern Syria, as much of northern Iraq as they want, and then the Kurds can quibble with the Iranians over how much Caspian Sea coastline they want.
    Go ahead and cede Lebanon to the custodial care of the EU, France and Britain can take lead roles in administration.

    Syria itself? Obama’s working on it, he’s said so himself. France’s Fabius is now reminding Obama of his talk about red lines being crossed: Obama has committed us (and himself) to intervention of some kind, a matter now only of what and when. Susan Rice will be a huge help to him in figuring this out.

  • Jasoturner

    Thankfully Russia pulled back on the missile shipment.  I think Putin realizes that things are getting way too hot over there for comfort, and that Israel is getting quite uncomfortable.

    We are seeing a chaos that is partially the result of the superpowers using the middle east and north Africa as pawns for decades, with no regard for human rights or fair governance.  There simply is no infrastructure in place to support peaceful – or at least somewhat orderly – transitions of power.  Even if you want Assad out, who exactly do you want *in*?

    With military intervention untenable, and arming “rebels” risky if not counter productive, it seems that only united diplomatic pressure from the troika of the US, Russia and China could convince Assad to stand down.  Otherwise, we’re looking at a very horrible and asymmetric civil war.

    But do our present world leaders have the chops to make something happen?  This is a real chance for Obama to help lead the world out of a very dicey situation.

    • brettearle

      Your scenario, about the 3 Superpowers getting Assad to stand down, ignited a recollection of mine, with regard to the Iraq War:

      I had always felt that had the International Community been less splintered, they all could have amassed “united diplomatic pressure” on Hussein–and prevailed upon him to leave or completely disarm….(at the time, the Intelligence pointed to this option).

      And, of course, we all knew that wasn’t going to happen.

      Sadly, there are too many convoluted and competing interests to find a united front, to engineer anything close to your sagacious point.

      Even for just one thing, when you take into consideration that if the US throw their support behind the rebels–which they, de facto, have done–they are in effect, supporting some faction of Al Qaeda.

      It seems to me that China’s interests are all over the place.  As are Iran’s.

      Russia sometimes makes decisions that surprise me.  They become temperate when I think they might become–from the standpoint of Propaganda–bellicose.

      But I think Russia is the true problem, here.  Their discontent with the US invading (invading, from their standpoint) Iraq has been, I believe, grossly underestimated.

      And so, for example, as a corollary:

      If Israel hits Iran’s nuclear installations–and then Iran responds with overwhelming force, in turn, triggering an obliteration of Teheran, by Israel….which is a real possibility–then i think we’re looking at the possibility of regional or global war.

      [Keep in mind how restive Israel is now--with regards to Syria's instability; and, with regard to Iran's and Hezbollah's relationship to the civil war in Syria.]  

    • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

      We are looking at a very horrible civil war.
      They always are.  And they tend to get worse.

      To expect that our President will lead the world out of this situation is wishful thinking bordering on the irrational.  Is peace in Russia’s interest?  How does a negotiated peace help the party in power in China?  How much political capital can our President spend on a doomed foreign adventure when he has so many pressing domestic concerns? 

      • Jasoturner

        I said “help” lead.  Putin would be the one who’d need to really stick his neck out.  Obama just needs to show a little guts for once if some unlikely opportunity presents itself that we could support.  I have no illusion that America can be the prime mover on this, nor do I think Obama has it in him to propose dramatic action.

        • http://read-write-blue.blogspot.com/ RWB

          Mostly we agree, except that I believe that President Obama could lead but chooses not to.

  • stephenreal

    This is a great opportunity to severely bleed Hezbollah in asymmetrical warfare by our good friends in the Syrian rebellion. It doesn’t take a blind man to see that Hezbollah lines are clearly overstretched into Syria proper.
    One should never pass up a chance to sock it to these Iranian paid gangsters.this is an easy gimme. take the gimme

  • creaker

    So – is the current unrest in Turkey really not a big deal? Or is the media underreporting it? I would think destabilization there would be a major game changer.

    • Ray in VT

      That would certainly be a surprise, considering that Turkey is generally considered to be relatively moderate and stable.  Maybe there isn’t much to these protests, but, then again, I didn’t think that the protestors in Tahrir Square would be able to topple Mubarak a couple of years back.

    • Trond33

      I have pondered the same question.  I would say that the underlying forces, mainly economic, that have driven other uprisings in the Middle East are also present in Turkey.  Heck, the strain of those forces are also evident in Europe and the U.S.  So, yes, I do believe the media has not fully grasped the seriousness of the civil strife in Turkey.  Then again, Turkey is likely to only see the same level of discontent that has been evident in places such as Greece, without an organized opposition to overthrow the existing political structure. 

  • stephenreal

    The US was on a roll through North Africa
     helping to topple dictatorship after dictatorship 
    only to halt stop at the doorsteps of the Iranian hegemony in Syria. 
    We must have a say, no matter how clumsy it may turn out, 
    in this sectarian proxy war.

  • Coastghost

    The world spins faster than the news: al-Qusayr has fallen to the Assad regime.
    Nobel Peace laureate Obama becomes more eager or less eager to intervene? Do we not believe our allies Britain and France that sarin has been used in Syria? WHEN will Obama act? (He WILL do something eventually, right? Red lines cannot be crossed with impunity, we all know.)

    • TomK_in_Boston

      Why are you so hot for a sunni islamic state? You apparently support Al Queda. Do you hate Christians, who have been protected by Assad and will be persecuted by the AQ faction?

      It does seem sarin has been used – by the islamic insurgents. 

      • Coastghost

        Oh, so you support an Iran-sponsored Shi’ite Syria? That’s distinct progress.

        Actually, I favor giving Syria to Turkey as a consolation prize for losing a newly-formed Kurdistan.

        • TomK_in_Boston

          You mean, like W’s invasion of iraq that converted iran’s #1 enemy into an ally?

          Do you hate Christians?

          • Coastghost

            No, I don’t hate Christians, I simply recognize that they control no state in the vicinity and form a majority of the population of no country closer than, what, Armenia? I doubt the Armenians want to annex either Syria or Lebanon. I say reward the Arabs of Syria with Turkish domination: let the Turks have Syria. Give Kurdistan to the Kurds. Give Lebanon to the Europeans.
            Amb. Crocker seems a bit sanguine about natl. boundaries drawn an entire century ago.

          • TomK_in_Boston

            OK, I vote for Turkish control of Syria. It’s a lot better than having the Muslim Brotherhood in charge, tho unfortunately the extremely successful “separation of church and state” that made modern Turkey is crumbling as religiosity sweeps the whole region.

        • Ray in VT

          Maybe we can get all the great powers together in Paris and draw some new lines in the Middle East.  Nothing could possibly go wrong there.

    • northeaster17

      Saddle up cowboy

  • stephenreal

    The Sykes–Picot Agreement could never have stood the test of time.
    The dead come back to haunt us.

  • northeaster17

    Chernobol is now a verb. Interesting…..Chernoboling.

  • sheb white

    Maybe the world should leave it all alone. I think that the only way that the Arab world will become peaceful is if they fight until they get sick of fighting. Look at Europe until world war 2 it was almost always at war. It took the total devastation of world war 2 before people truly wanted peace.

    • brettearle

      Conflict in the Middle East goes much further back than any warring history in Europe.

      When has there EVER been peace in The Middle East?

      Conflict is ENDEMIC in the region.

      It is `almost’ a Tradition.

      Whether we like it or not.

      • TomK_in_Boston

        As some Reagan official said while they were creating Al Queda, “Those Afghan boys take to weapons systems like American boys take to baseball.”

        • brettearle

          Appreciate the anecdote.

          If it weren’t so demoralizing, it’d be humorous.

  • stephenreal

    You are bumming me out with this regional scenario Ambassador Crocker.

  • Coastghost

    Why does no one with Amb. Crocker’s expertise advocate an independent Kurdistan? Have they failed spectacularly to be US allies over the past decade? Would an independent Kurdistan not provide a buffer state of sorts? Why is “Kurdistan” never even named in diplomatic circles?

    • http://www.facebook.com/mhschaefer Michael Hussein Schaefer

       one word: Turkey

  • Coastghost

    Forty-five minutes into the conversation and NO mention on-air of “Kurdistan”, not one. A curious and glaring omission.

  • stephenreal

    Ambassador Crocker has a point I agree with too. Send in the “pumps”. (with cash, in my opinion, cash has always been king in Syria)

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      American cash belongs in America. We have our own problems.

  • Eric

    The US needs to keep a close eye on what is going on but we must only use our voices and political power and stay out of direct combat. The last thing the region needs is US Legionnaires stoking the flames. 

  • Coastghost

    Interesting to learn from this show that no one in US diplomatic circles dares breathe the word “Kurdistan”. It might have been nice to learn what accounts for this studious aversion, but alas.

  • TheDailyBuzzherd

    Let the blood flow. The Middle East needs to open that wound all the way and uncork all its fears, ambitions, bloodlust. Let it know total war. Let it know absolute prejudice. Let blood flow everywhere: in the streets, in every room, in every heart. Let it know no mercy, no judgment or help from any God, no shelter, no pity, no hospice, no friend or foe will stand in the way of inevitable misery and humiliation. Let it know death in soul-killing numbers. No sanctuary or mind from the West. It must stand alone outside naked and finally face itself.

    Only then can the Middle East begin to reassess its history and stop the wretched mindlessness of complete devotion to God, powerlust, and realize it has to lead itself forward rather than leaning on ancient ideology.

    • sheb white

      You hit the nail on the head with that statement. I meant the same thing in my earlier post, you just said it more elegantly.

    • brettearle

      Oh sure….

      As if, by that time the Super Powers wouldn’t have already stepped in–making it no longer a Proxy War, but, instead, World War III.

      Please…..

      [unless your comment is rhetorical, and `insightfully' sarcsastic, you couldn't possibly be serious]

      • sheb white

        I am serious I don’t see how diplomacy is going to change the way they think. If we always intervene they will never learn to have peace on there own. And what ever we do will only solve the problem temporarily. Look at Egypt are they any better off then they were. Arab’s just don’t want to get along to do so they would have to give up some of there deep held beliefs. The Arab world needs to be allowed to learn that violence is not worth the cost then they will be ready for peace.  

      • jimino

        While I agree the Buzz was overly dramatic, I too believe that there is nothing any person, country or group of countries can do to prevent the conflict and resulting violence, that intervening will only provide a basis for getting blamed for the inevitable hell-on-earth that will result regardless of their efforts, and that only by making those most closely affected by these events be required to find a solution will any progress be made.

        And isn’t having each and every faction kill as many of the other similar factions exactly what we really want?

        • brettearle

          I wasn’t think of using our imaginations–which, in a less imperfect world, we could do, more successfully.

          I was simply implying–via Realpolitik–that genocidal bloodshed, on many sides, would NEVER obtain, from a pragmatic point of view, without superpower intervention…..intervention that would take place, before a full conflagration; intervention that may, or may not, make things worse.

          I am not talking about solutions. I am talking about what might, or is likely, to happen.

          Where is it written that I, or anyone else, have to come up with solutions, if there are none?

          • TheDailyBuzzherd

            Brett, that was my point. There are no solutions left. All hands have been played. They have to fight it out themselves without us getting in the way. All pleas for help would fall on deaf ears, if we played our cards right. Unfortunately, we can’t resist. We’re “Team America, World Police”. The John McCains of the world just can’t help themselves. We already know Israel and Pakistan have the bomb. Iran and others are working on theirs. Probably best they get their big fight out of the way before one more idiot gets that technology. These fights are tribal warfare and none of our business. We should tend to ours as we have enough problems.

            There will be a New World Order and Israel will figure hugely in it. Of course, much of the fight will be brought on themselves because of their blatant refusal to cease settling disputed territory. So it goes.

            BTW, I completely disagree with the evangelical crowd which believes that this fight will lead to Armageddon in the hopes we all get to The Promised Land.

          • brettearle

            I appreciate your clarification.

            But I would argue that the Super Powers cannot help themselves.

            And I think you know that.

            And, though I support both Israel and Palestine, I think you would see Israel retaliating very, very big time, if even some of their citizens are killed.

            The ethnic conflicts, apart from Israel, will be much worse.

            There is NO WAY that there could NOT be intervention.

            That’s why I thought you were being sarcastic.

            Because I figured that you know what I know:

            They will NEVER slug it out alone.

            Too much at stake.

    • Wm_James_from_Missouri

      They only say that they have a devotion to God.

  • Steve Blair

    I know, through personal experience, our military and foreign service are committed to doing a really tough job. But voluteers should be sought, not selected–as in a draft. I would not want to be put into the battle like a pawn. Let those who feel strongly about this volunteer to go. Otherwise, let the powerful send their children first.

    • brettearle

      Of course, then there’s the other solution:

      that old anecdote about how we should collect all the leaders of all the countries and all the leaders of all the groups–who have gripes and grudges, against one another–and throw them into a large boxing ring and let them slug it out.

    • Tyranipocrit

      make the ploticians send thier children first–if you vote for war you must send your children or go yourself.  If they cant do that their vote doesnt count. 

      keep in mind–americ is a lie–we have no democracy and no nation.  Corporations rule the world and all politics and are the cause of all wars and injustice.  Nations are history.  CEOS and corporate aristocrats have no allefgiance to any nation.  nationhood is an illusion perpetuated by corporate-owned media.  You liver now in a brave new world under big brother.

  • Trond33

    We have to be mindful of history, it is not too far north of the Middle East that World War One was sparked.  Just as in 1914, there were no easy answers to pacify the situation.  It would take something several leagues beyond a grand bargain to get all the parties in the Middle east to redraw the political boundaries – a practical impossibility.  Still, you cannot help but think that boundaries drawn along “natural” lines as opposed to arbitrarily a result of wars and imperialism would not serve the region better.  

    Alternatively, regional economic and political unions.  The Middle East is the region with the lowest number of such compacts to bind the peoples interests to that of their neighbors.  Say what you will about the European Union, it does contain forces that in yesteryear may well have given rise to militarism.  

    We also have to remember that societal fault lines break around differences such as ethnicity and religion, those are what makes the oversimplified medial headlines.  The reality is that the lion share of wars ever fought have their roots in economics.  Wars and civil strife is fueled by resource scarcity – however that scarcity is created.  In the Middle East, the bottom line is a demographic crisis, heavily skewed toward those under 25.  Societies that are not prepared to meet all the economic expectations of the burgeoning populations.  

    Even Israel is under this pressure, only alleviating their immediate situation to exploiting occupied land and resources from conquered neighbors.  Which underscores the reality, that no peace will come to the Middle East until Israel is willing to live in harmony with its neighbors.  To recognize that it is not a lunar colony of the U.S.A., that can live in a vacuum from the people across an arbitrary line in the sand.  

    The Syrian conflict is not as much spilling out of Syria in that it is casting light on a region that has swept political and economic challenges under the rug for far too long.  As such, the answers to the Syrian conflict do not come from within Syria as much as they stem from a regional transformation.  

    The Middle East is what Europe would have been had Europe not embarked on the path that ultimately tied it together under the European Union. There is a need for embarking on a path that can lead to some sort of Middle Eastern Union, in whatever form that might evolve into. 

    • http://thewarmastersrevenge.blogspot.com GreatGunz

      presumably the first step toward establishing such a union would be the removal of dictatorships and their replacement with liberal democracies…. 

      • Tyranipocrit

        and before that you must remove the rogue nation–Irsael– or Israel must make dramatic and radical changes in its terrorist behavior.  And before that america must stop supporting their terrorism.

        • http://thewarmastersrevenge.blogspot.com GreatGunz

          couldn’t agree more.

  • marygrav

    The Mosaad has overplayed its hand.  The war on Syria will blow up like a fired fueled by gasoline, or should I say oil.  Before my critics get their knickers in a twist I want to present some evidence.

    Report

    According to the report’s preamble,[1] it was written by the Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000, which was a part of the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies.

    Former United States Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle was the “Study Group Leader”, but the final report included ideas from Douglas Feith, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser.[2]

    Contents

    The content of the report is organized into an introduction followed
    by six sections. The report interleaves within its main commentary text a
    series of “key passages of a possible speech.”

    “While there are those who will counsel continuity, Israel has the
    opportunity to make a clean break; it can forge a peace process and
    strategy based on an entirely new intellectual foundation, one that restores strategic initiative and provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism, the starting point of which must be economic reform.”[1]

    The introduction specifically proposes three new policies:

    1. Rather than pursuing a “comprehensive peace” with the entire Arab
    world, Israel should work jointly with Jordan and Turkey to “contain,
    destabilize, and roll-back” those entities that are threats to all
    three.

    2. Changing the nature of relations with the Palestinians,
    specifically reserving the right of “hot pursuit” anywhere within
    Palestinian territory as well as attempting to promote alternatives to
    Arafat’s leadership.

    3. Changing relations with the United States stressing self reliance and strategic cooperation.

    “This can only be done if Israel takes serious steps to terminate aid, which prevents economic reform.”[1]

    “A New Approach to Peace”

    “While the previous government, and many abroad, may emphasize land for peace—
    which placed Israel in the position of cultural, economic, political,
    diplomatic, and military retreat — the new government can promote
    Western values and traditions. Such an approach, which will be well
    received in the United States, includes peace for peace, peace through strength and self reliance: the balance of power.”[1]

    “Securing the Northern Border”

    “Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese
    soil. An effective approach, and one with which American can
    sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its
    northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran,
    as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon, including by:
    —striking Syria’s drug-money and counterfeiting infrastructure in
    Lebanon, all of which focuses on Razi Qanan. —paralleling Syria’s
    behavior by establishing the precedent that Syrian territory is not
    immune to attacks emanating from Lebanon by Israeli proxy forces…. “[1]

    “Israel also can take this opportunity to remind the world of the
    nature of the Syrian regime. Syria repeatedly breaks its word. It
    violated numerous agreements with the Turks, and has betrayed the United
    States by continuing to occupy Lebanon in violation of the Taef
    agreement in 1989. Instead, Syria staged a sham election, installed a
    quisling regime, and forced Lebanon to sign a “Brotherhood Agreement” in
    1991, that terminated Lebanese sovereignty. And Syria has begun
    colonizing Lebanon with hundreds of thousands of Syrians, while killing
    tens of thousands of its own citizens at a time, as it did in only three
    days in 1983 in Hama….Given the nature of the regime in Damascus, it is both natural and moral that Israel abandon the slogan comprehensive peace and move to contain Syria, drawing attention to its weapons of mass destruction programs, and rejecting land for peace deals on the Golan Heights.”[1]

    “Moving to a Traditional Balance of Power Strategy”

    “Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.”[1]

    “Since Iraq’s future could affect the strategic balance in the Middle
    East profoundly, it would be understandable that Israel has an interest
    in supporting the Hashemites
    in their efforts to redefine Iraq,including such measures as: visiting
    Jordan as the first official state visit, even before a visit to the
    United States, of the new Netanyahu government; supporting King Hussein
    by providing him with some tangible security measures to protect his
    regime against Syrian subversion; encouraging — through influence in the
    U.S. business community — investment in Jordan to structurally shift
    Jordan’s economy away from dependence on Iraq; and diverting Syria’s
    attention by using Lebanese opposition elements to destabilize Syrian
    control of Lebanon. .. Were the Hashemites to control Iraq, they could
    use their influence over Najf to help Israel wean the south Lebanese
    Shia away from Hizballah, Iran, and Syria.
    Shia retain strong ties to the Hashemites: the Shia venerate foremost
    the Prophet’s family, the direct descendants of which — and in whose
    veins the blood of the Prophet flows — is King Hussein.”[1]

    “Changing the Nature of Relations with the Palestinians”

    “Israel has a chance to forge a new relationship between itself and
    the Palestinians. First and foremost, Israel’s efforts to secure its
    streets may require hot pursuit into Palestinian-controlled areas, a
    justifiable practice with which Americans can sympathize.”[1]

    “To emphasize the point that Israel regards the actions of the PLO problematic, but not the Arab people, Israel might want to consider making a special effort to reward friends and advance human rights among Arabs.”[1]

    “Forging A New U.S.-Israeli Relationship”

    “Israel can make a clean break from the past and establish a new vision for the U.S.-Israeli partnership
    based on self-reliance, maturity and mutuality — not one focused
    narrowly on territorial disputes. Israel’s new strategy — based on a shared philosophy of peace through strength — reflects continuity with Western values by stressing that Israel is self-reliant, does not need U.S. troops in any capacity to defend it, including on the Golan Heights, and can manage its own affairs.”[1]

    “To reinforce this point, the Prime Minister can use his forthcoming
    visit to announce that Israel is now mature enough to cut itself free
    immediately from at least U.S. economic aid and loan guarantees at
    least, which prevent economic reform.”[1]

    “Conclusions – Transcending the Arab-Israeli Conflict”

    “Israel’s new agenda can signal a clean break by abandoning a policy
    which assumed exhaustion and allowed strategic retreat by reestablishing
    the principle of preemption, rather than retaliation alone and by ceasing to absorb blows to the nation without response.”[1]

    “Israel’s new strategic agenda can shape the regional environment in
    ways that grant Israel the room to refocus its energies back to where
    they are most needed: to rejuvenate its national idea, which can only
    come through replacing Israel’s socialist foundations with a more sound footing; and to overcome its exhaustion, which threatens the survival of the nation.”[1]

    “Ultimately, Israel can do more than simply manage the Arab-Israeli
    conflict though war. No amount of weapons or victories will grant Israel
    the peace its seeks. When Israel is on a sound economic footing, and is
    free, powerful, and healthy internally, it will no longer simply manage
    the Arab-Israeli conflict; it will transcend it. As a senior Iraqi opposition leader said recently: Israel
    must rejuvenate and revitalize its moral and intellectual leadership.
    It is an important — if not the most important–element in the history
    of the Middle East. Israel — proud, wealthy, solid, and strong — would be the basis of a truly new and peaceful Middle East.”[1]

    History does not lie and intent is still valid in anything to do with the Middle East with Israel and its Arab neighbors.

    • Potter

      No amount of weapons or victories will grant Israel

      the peace its seeks.

      The only phrase that means something to me from your above quote which seems not to acknowledge an occupation and that land that has been stolen needs to be returned…. It’s not then “peace for peace” try as Israel may to make it into that. That is not going to happen.

      There is no better time than now for Israel to start dancing and to stop the propaganda that offers were made and rejected.

    • Tyranipocrit

      you totally lose me when you cite it is an Israel study group.  Israel is a fraud.  And a danger to the world.  America is a pathetic criminal that buoys it up. 

    • Tyranipocrit

       your comment is not convincing or compelling enough to keep anyone reading so much nonsense.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mhschaefer Michael Hussein Schaefer

    I am so sick and tired of American Exceptionalism. Why don’t we work through the UN, as it was intended, to encourage peace talks instead of pouring fuel on the fire? What if every country in the world thought it was their right to find the faction of their liking in a civil war and funneled arms to them? It’s wrong when Russia does it but not us? Why, in an era of sequestration austerity, can we always find more money for war? Bombs and guns aren’t cheap. How many trillions have the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq cost us? When the Free Syrian Army formed, I accepted that as an indigenous reaction to state repression, and some of the Syrian people thought it necessary to engage in armed struggle. But, as soon as foreign countries (Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey – and don’t tell me our allies did this against our wishes) start aiding rebels, they immediately altered the internal political dynamics of a revolution to their favor. God, I’m so sick of it.    

    • http://thewarmastersrevenge.blogspot.com GreatGunz

      We don’t work through the UN because its executive office is run by committee. Like all committees, the security council is hamstrung by indecisiveness and lack of vision, leading to little if any action on pressing issues. The only time the UN security council acted decisively was in the Korean War… and then only because the Russian delegate was absent and unable to interfere with the proceedings. Until the UN structures itself so as to permit effective leadership, it will remain, as it is now, an institution with little relevance regarding interstate conflict. 

      • Tyranipocrit

         you analysis is untrue.  You conveneinetly ignore tha fact that the USA vetoes every singel UN proposal and policy–goingo back to its conception.  The uSa si in opposition tot the UN-always–and stands in the way of world peace and human rights.  The US is the problem.  And CHina often is too.

        • http://thewarmastersrevenge.blogspot.com GreatGunz

          Your*… the**… single*** etc. 

          • Tyranipocrit

            dont need the grammar police.  is that what you do–you go around the internet policing comments.  rather than contributing to a conversation, rather then thinking about its content.  It is a f-ing discussion panel–not an essay.  Get a grip.  Please dont respond to me if you have nothing to say about the comment.  

          • http://thewarmastersrevenge.blogspot.com GreatGunz

            Look, here you are solving the world’s problems, and you don’t even know the difference between your and you’re. Does that seem normal to you? You could be an idiot. Just sayin’. 

    • Tyranipocrit

      good points

  • rakunz

    1.  In listening to your guests reasons to engage in Syria there were no specific examples of how our national interests were at stake.  Instead there was general hand-wringing and vaguely expressed concerns about either controlling events or they will control you.  It should be mandatory that before we engage in any foreign affair that an explicit rational of how a failure to do so would directly impact US Citizens as well as a cost/benefit analysis including the tax consequences if Americans agree to take responsibility for those acts done in their name.

    2.  We must step back and understand that we are trying to maintain a set of borders and nations that were artificially created without knowledge or concern for the inhabitants of those lands.  We must first ask if the stability of a creation of the West is more important than a process of self-determination for those people along with all the incumbent turmoil.

  • Potter

    Israel should use this time as an opportunity, not an excuse.

  • ExcellentNews

    I wonder if Bush has learned by now that Sunni is not spelled “Sunny”, contrary to what his country club contractor pals and oilmen told him. At least, 2.5 TRILLION of taxpayer money are now safely stashed in private offshore accounts, and not at risk to be wasted on big government things like education, research, or infrastructure…

    As to Syria, my view may be too naïve, but a government who uses chemical weapons and missiles on its own citizens should not be aided in any way by the US. And maybe these citizens should not be forced to be part of Syria if they feel so strongly about it. If they want to fight for their freedom, sell them the arms, and make sure the proceeds go to our Treasury, not into some numbered account in the Cayman Islands.

    In fact, here is a truly weird idea. Maybe America does not need the Middle East. Maybe we should only support those who live up to our standard of democracy and human rights. As to the rest – sell them arms, use the proceeds to pare down the deficit, and do not otherwise transact business with them.

ONPOINT
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