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'Israelization' of U.S. Middle East policy proceeds apace

by America Firster Friday, Oct. 24, 2003 at 4:20 AM

'Israelization' of U.S. Middle East policy proceeds apace

'Israelization' of U.S. Middle East policy proceeds apace

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/geted.pl5?eo20031023a1.htm

By DAVID HIRST

Special to The Japan Times

BEIRUT -- Few disputed at the time that Israel was a factor that pushed U.S. President George W. Bush to go to war on Iraq. Just how much weight it had among all the other factors was the only controversial question. But what is clear, six months on, is that Israel is now a very important one indeed in the stumbling neoimperial venture that Iraq has become.

This "Israelization" of U.S. policy crossed a new threshold with the two blows dealt Syria in the past fortnight -- Bush's endorsement of Israel's Oct. 5 air raid on its territory and the Syrian Accountability Act passed by the House of Representatives last week. A community of U.S.-Israeli purpose pushed to unprecedented lengths is now operational as well as ideological.

For the U.S., the main battlefield is Iraq, and any state that sponsors or encourages resistance to its occupation; for Israel it is occupied Palestine, its "terrorists" and their external backers. These common objectives converge on Syria.

Of course, with his raid, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had his own specifically Israeli agenda, growing out of frustration at his failure to crush the intifada. Breaking the "rules" that have "contained" Israeli-Syrian conflict these past 30 years, he signaled his readiness to visit on Israel's Arab neighbors the same punitive techniques he uses on the Palestinians.

But whereas such an escalation might have had some deterrent logic when these neighbors truly did sponsor or harbor Palestinian resistance, it doesn't now. An essential feature of the intifada is that, spontaneous and popular, it derives almost all its impetus from within; nothing illustrated that like Hanadi Jaradat, the young woman from Jenin whose very personal grief and vengeance prompted, on Oct. 4, the atrocious, self-sacrificial deed that in turn prompted the raid. So, other than brief emotional gratification to the Israeli public, Sharon's action achieved nothing.

But that will not deter Sharon. Having embarked on this course, he has little choice but to continue it; more importantly, violence has always been the indispensable means by which, in the guise of fighting terror, he pursues his long-term aims, the building of "Greater Israel" and the crushing of any opposition to it.

But Sharon is also, he believes, serving an American agenda. At least no one in Washington says he is not. There was a time, even under the current U.S. administration, the most pro-Israeli administration ever, when America would have strenuously distanced itself from such an act by its protege; a time when, mindful of the linkage between the two great Middle East zones of crisis, it would have recognized that too close an identification with the aims and actions of Israel in Palestine and its environs would complicate its task in Iraq. No more, apparently. Now these aims and actions either matter little to America, or even, in Syria's case, complement its own.

True, constraints persist even now. Bush still balks at Israel's projected "removal" of Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat. On the other hand, he has effectively "disengaged" once more from the peacemaking, endorsed the Israeli view that Arafat alone is responsible for its breakdown and left Sharon a freer hand than ever to conduct the Israeli share of their common "war on terror."

It was partly because he couldn't go after Arafat that Sharon turned on Syria instead. Again, Bush urged caution -- but then called it legitimate "self defense" of a kind America itself would have resorted to. It was Palestinian "terrorists" Israel struck, but in American eyes, these are a piece of those other "terrorists" -- Arabs or Muslims -- whose passage into Iraq Syria supposedly permits or does little to impede.

Bush's endorsement of the raid -- together with his signaled readiness to sign into law the Syrian Accountability against which he has long held out -- means that, where Syria is concerned, he has now veered strongly in favor of the neoconservative wing of his administration. Its members are so closely linked, personally, ideologically and even institutionally, to the Israeli rightwing that it is impossible to disentangle what is American in their thinking from what is Sharon and the Likud's -- and nowhere, Western diplomats in Damascus say, is this more obvious than it is with regard to Syria.

The Accountability Act -- which calls for sanctions against Syria till it stops supporting terrorism, withdraws its forces from Lebanon, ceases development of weapons of mass destruction and enters "serious, unconditional" peace negotiations with Israel -- is something the U.S. neocons have been working for since the mid-1990s. That was when they first proposed their joint Israeli-American strategy for "regime change" in Syria as well as Iraq, to be accomplished by such means as attacks on Syria by "Israeli proxy forces" based in Lebanon, Israeli attacks on Syrian targets in Lebanon and "select" targets in Syria itself.

The deepening U.S.-Israeli alliance is all too liable to backfire. What the U.S. is permitting Israel to do in Palestine and Syria will further inflame Arab and Muslim hostility to what it is doing in Iraq. The effects of that will be felt at the popular level; as despised Arab regimes look ever more incapable of fulfilling the fundamental duty of any government: defense against foreign attack and domination. The militants among their people -- like Hanadi Jaradat in Palestine -- assume that duty themselves; they become terrorists and suicide bombers wherever motive and opportunity for it most potently coincide. Iraq and Palestine are one and the same. "Those," said Beirut's Daily Star, "who cannot take revenge on Israeli occupation will happily visit it on U.S. troops in Tikrit."

As for the regimes, Syria has so far opted for restraint. Aware that its only hope of securing its future in a general Middle East settlement is via the United States, it may become even more conciliatory than it already is. But if Sharon keeps up his attacks, there will surely be a limit to such restraint, set by tactical necessity, domestic public opinion and its own perception of itself as a last bastion of Arab steadfastness.

Damascus has intimated that, at some point, it will hit back -- perhaps by really adopting the spoiler's role in Iraq that the U.S. unconvincingly attributes to it already, or, more likely, by activating Hezbollah against Israel. Of course that would be very risky, given Israel's vast superiority over it in conventional military terms. But -- as Damascus will no doubt calculate -- can the U.S., floundering in Iraq, really afford another Middle East conflagration of its ally's making?

The "Israelization" of America, as a key ingredient in the ever more noxious Middle East brew, is not an extravagant term for a relationship in which, typically, Sharon leads and Bush lamely follows. The pattern constantly repeats itself. Bush may have misgivings about what Sharon does -- at his military excesses, his relentless settlement drive, his "wall" and now his attack on Syria -- and he may stammer out mild admonitions, but he always accommodates him in the end.

With Iraq itself eating away at his prospects of election for a second term, Bush will be more accommodating than ever, more deferential to all the "friends of Israel" in America from whom Sharon draws most of his power to lead -- or mislead -- him.

With the next suicide bomber will Sharon reply against the offices of "terrorist" organizations in Damascus itself -- as he has clearly intimated he might? One thing is sure: If, somewhere down such a road, lies an American disaster in Iraq and a monumental scuttle, the Israeli partner in this most extraordinary and counterproductive of alliances will pay higher price than America itself.

David Hirst is the Mideast correspondent for The Guardian in London. Based in Beirut, he has been covering the region for 30 years.

The Japan Times: Oct. 23, 2003

Hersh--Neocons' Manipulation of Intelligence:

http://www.itszone.co.uk/zone0/viewtopic.php?t=9953



New Cheney Adviser Sets Syria In His Sights

by Jim Lobe

October 21, 2003: (Inter Press Service) neo-conservative strategist who has long called for the United States and Israel to work together to "roll back" the Ba'ath-led government in Syria has been quietly appointed as a Middle East adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

David Wurmser, who had been working for Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, joined Cheney's staff under its powerful national security director, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, in mid-September, according to Cheney's office.

The move is significant, not only because Cheney is seen increasingly as the dominant foreign-policy influence on President George W. Bush, but also because it adds to the notion that neo-conservatives remain a formidable force under Bush despite the sharp plunge in public confidence in Bush's handling of post-war Iraq resulting from the faulty assumptions propagated by the "neo-cons" before the war.

Given the recent intensification of tensions between Washington and Damascus - touched off by this month's U.S. veto of a United Nations Security Council resolution deploring an Israeli air attack on an alleged Palestinian camp outside Damascus - Wurmser's rise takes on added significance.

The move also follows House of Representatives' approval of a bill that would impose new economic and diplomatic sanctions against Syria.

Wurmser's status as a favoured protege of arch-hawk and former Defence Policy Board chairman Richard Perle at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) also speaks loudly to Middle East specialists, who note Perle's long-time close association with Cheney, Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld and Rumsfeld's chief deputy Paul Wolfowitz.

Wolfowitz was the first senior administration official to suggest that Washington might take action against Syria amid reports last April that Damascus was sheltering senior Iraqi leaders and weapons of mass destruction in the wake of the U.S. invasion.

"There's got to be a change in Syria," Wolfowitz said, accusing the government of President Bashar Assad of "extreme ruthlessness." Rumsfeld subsequently accused Syria of permitting Islamic "jihadis" to infiltrate Iraq to fight U.S. troops.

Perle, who last week was in Israel to receive a special award from the "Jerusalem Summit," an international group of right wing Jews and Christian Zionists who describe themselves as defenders of "civilisation" against "Islamic fundamentalism," has made no secret of his own desire to confront Damascus.

In a series of interviews, Perle applauded Israel's attack on Syrian territory - the first since the 1967 war - in alleged retaliation for a Palestinian suicide bombing in Israel. "I am happy to see the message was delivered to Syria by the Israeli Air Force, and I hope it is the first of many such messages," he said.

Perle said he "hope(d)" the United States would itself take action against Damascus, particularly if it turned out that Syria was acting as a financial or recruiting base for the insurgency in Iraq.

"Syria is itself a terrorist organisation," he asserted, insisting that Washington would not find it difficult to send troops to Damascus despite its commitment in Iraq. "Syria is militarily very weak," added Perle.

Damascus has been in Wurmser's sights at least since he began working with Perle at AEI in the mid-1990s.

For the latter part of the decade, he wrote frequently to support a joint U.S.-Israeli effort to undermine then-President Hafez Assad in hopes of destroying Baathist rule and hastening the creation of a new order in the Levant to be dominated by "tribal, familial and clan unions under limited governments."

Indeed, it was precisely because of the strategic importance of the Levant that Wurmser advocated overthrowing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in favour of an Iraqi National Congress (INC) closely tied to the Hashemite monarchy in Jordan.

"Whoever inherits Iraq dominates the entire Levant strategically," he wrote in one 1996 paper for the Jerusalem-based Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS).

Wurmser, whose Israeli-born spouse Meyrav Wurmser heads Middle East studies at the neo-conservative Hudson Institute, was the main author of a 1996 report by a task force convened by the IASPS and headed by Perle, called the 'Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000'.

The paper, called 'A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm', was directed to incoming Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

It featured a series of recommendations designed to end the process of Israel trading "land for peace" by transforming the "balance of power" in the Middle East in favour of an axis consisting of Israel, Turkey and Jordan.

To do so, it called for ousting Saddam Hussein and installing a Hashemite leader in Baghdad. From that point, the strategy would be largely focused on Syria and, at the least, to reducing its influence in Lebanon.

Among other steps, the report called for Israeli sponsorship of attacks on Syrian territory by "Israeli proxy forces" based in Lebanon and "striking Syrian military targets in Lebanon, and should that prove insufficient, striking at select targets in Syria proper."

"Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, even rolling back Syria," the report argued, to create a "natural axis" between Israel, Jordan, a Hashemite Iraq and Turkey that "would squeeze and detach Syria from the Saudi Peninsula."

"For Syria, this could be the prelude to a redrawing of the map of the Middle East, which could threaten Syria's territorial integrity," it suggested.

A follow-up report by Wurmser titled 'Coping with Crumbling States', also favoured a substantial redrawing of the Middle East along tribal and familial lines in light of what he called an "emerging phenomenon - the crumbling of Arab secular-nationalist nations."

The penchant of Washington and the West in general for backing secular-nationalist states against the threat of militant Islamic fundamentalism was a strategic error, warned Wurmser in the second study, a conclusion he repeated in a 1999 book, Tyranny's Ally, which included a laudatory foreword by Perle and was published by AEI.

While the book focused on Iraq not Syria, it elaborated on Wurmser's previous arguments by attacking regional specialists in U.S. universities, the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who, according to him, were too wedded to strong secular states in the Arab world as the preferred guarantors of regional stability.

"Our Middle East scholarly and policy elite are informed by bad ideas about the region that lead them to bad policies," he charged, echoing a position often taken by Perle.

In the book's acknowledgments, Wurmser praised those who most influenced his work, a veritable "who's who" of those neo-cons most closely tied to Israel's far right, including Perle himself, another AEI scholar, Michael Ledeen and Undersecretary of Defence for Policy and the man in charge of post-Iraq war planning, Douglas Feith.

He listed former CIA director James Woolsey, who has called the conflict in Syria the early stages of "World War IV," Harold Rhode, a Feith aide who has also called himself Wolfowitz's "Islamic Affairs adviser" and INC leader Ahmed Chalabi.

Wurmser also gave thanks to Irving Moskowitz, a major casino operator and long-time funder of Israel's settlement movement, whom he described as a "gentle man whose generous support of AEI allows me to be here." 1996 Report, "A Clean Break" and "Coping With Crumbling States."

Copyright: Inter Press Service

Please review the "A Clean Break" mention below as it is very important because it is the blueprint for further war in the Middle East for the JINSA/PNAC Neocon agenda which is mentioned in the following article by Robert Fisk:

http://www.counterpunch.org/fisk0910.html

Here is the "Men from JINSA and CSP" article (by Jason Vest) which Fisk mentions in the above article (so why haven't we seen Jason Vest interviewed on "Hardball" as I have the contact information for him as well):

http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml%3Fi=20020902&s=vest

Please Read about "A Clean Break" in this article by Justin Raimondo:

http://www.antiwar.com/justin/j100603.html

Forwarded:

Subj: AIPAC, JINSA and MP Tam Dalyell

Date: 10/20/03 1:44:48 AM Pacific Daylight Time

From: MORRIS434

To: tom.carver@bbc.co.uk

Dear Mr. Carver,

I read (via the following URL) about your "Newsnight" segment for the BBC on the influence of the AIPAC (pro-Israel) lobby in the USA (as AIPAC had influenced for the invasion of Iraq as well):

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/3010371.stm

You might want to access the following URL for additional info on just how influencial the AIPAC lobby is:

http://www.leftcurve.org/LC27WebPages/IsraelLobby.html

Even though you had mentioned MP Tam Dalyell in your "Newsnight" piece, you had not mentioned JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) and PNAC (Project for the New American Century as JINSA Zionist extremists like Richard Perle are also associated with PNAC) and the influence of both for the invasion/occupation of Iraq as MP Dalyell had conveyed (please accesss the following article for the San Francisco Chronicle):

British Member of Parliament and Father of the Commons Tam Dalyell discussed JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) and its influence for war with the current Bush regime. Here is an article from the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper about MP Dalyell's mention of JINSA:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/gate/archive/2003/05/08/worldviews.DTL.

Please also review the following at your earliest convenience.

http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/print.asp?ArticleID=100463

Patrick Seale: Sharon's main plan is to capture more land

17/10/2003

Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his friends in Washington are in a hurry. They are racing to achieve their objectives before anyone stops them. And when they are in a hurry, they are particularly dangerous. Syria and Iran are in their sights, with further down the road Saudi Arabia, and even Egypt. Political and economic pressure, financial penalties, sanctions, intervention, regime change by military force, these are their chosen instruments for bending the Arabs to the will of Israel and its United States patron.

Sharon's main objective is the building of a Greater Israel on the ruins of Palestinian nationalism. His latest instrument is the wall or fence which is imprisoning the Palestinians on a fraction of their territory, cutting them off on all sides from contact with their Arab neighbours. The wall is due to be finished in eight months' time. Sharon is determined that nothing must prevent its completion.

At the UN Security Council this week, he won a major victory when the United States vetoed a resolution, proposed by Syria, condemning the wall. Within hours, a radical Palestinian group attacked the motorcade of an American delegation in Gaza, killing three Americans and wounding a fourth. Sharon will no doubt exploit this latest incident to rally American opinion against the beleaguered Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat.

Israel's main worry

Sharon's main worry, however, and the reason for his haste, is that George W Bush could be thrown out of office at next year's US presidential election - and with him the whole band of pro-Israeli "neo-conservatives" which have set the Administration's agenda since September 11, 2001. These are the men who pressed for war against Iraq as a first step towards reshaping the geopolitics of the entire Middle East. But the sluggish US economy, the mess in Iraq, and the anti-American anger sweeping the Arab and Muslim world are now making Bush look vulnerable. A Democrat in the White House may not be so tolerant of Israel's foolhardy ambitions or so ready to endorse the neo-cons' aggressive policies.

Sharon has other worries closer to home. The political fall-out from the current police investigations of his two sons, Omri and Gilad, for alleged sharp practice and bribe-taking could drive Sharon himself from office in 2004. And to compound his fears, the Israeli Left which for the past two years has seemed terminally ill and politically irrelevant is showing faint signs of revival.

Leading opposition figures such as Yossi Beilin, Amram Mitzna and Avraham Burg have joined with Palestinian moderates, led by Yasser Abed Rabbo, in drafting a detailed peace plan for a two-state solution - the so-called Geneva Accords.

The plan, the result of two years of secret negotiations funded by the Swiss government, is due to be signed formally in Geneva next month, putting flesh on the bones of the tentative agreements reached at Taba in January 2001.

It represents everything that Sharon and his friends detest and which he has spent his life seeking to destroy. It provides for an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders (with some marginal modifications) to allow for the emergence of a viable Palestinian state; some major colonies close to the Green Line to be annexed to Israel but those deep inside Palestinian territory to be evacuated; Jerusalem as a shared capital; Palestinian sovereignty over the Haram Al Sharif; Israeli sovereignty over the Wailing Wall and the Jewish quarter of the Old City; and - a major Palestinian concession - the abandonment of the "right of return" to towns and villages lost in 1948. An international force would monitor implementation of the plan while radical Palestinian groups would be tamed and shut down.

These "Geneva Accords" may, in the present climate, seem hopelessly utopian. They have no chance whatsoever of being implemented while the Sharon government, or anything resembling it, is in power. Their potential importance, however, lies in offering the Israeli public what it lacks and longs for most - hope that the current nightmare of killing and counter-killing can be brought to an end. In other words, a change in Washington, and a move back to the center by an Israeli public won over by a credible peace plan, could yet pose a threat to Sharon's ambitions.

He has reacted to the Geneva Accords with barely suppressed rage. "By what right," he snorted, "are left-wing people proposing moves that Israel can never do, nor will ever do!"

Formidable obstacles

Sharon has always wanted one hundred per cent of Palestine, an ambition which would have involved expelling most, if not all, of the Palestinian population of the West Bank to Jordan, which would then have become a Palestinian state.

As the obstacles to such a project are formidable, Sharon has opted for something a shade more modest: the seizure of about 90 per cent of historic Palestine, confining the Palestinians to some 10 per cent of the overall territory behind the notorious wall.

No doubt he calculates that, once the wall is finished, it will in due course come to be accepted by the international community, and by the Palestinians themselves, as defining Israel's borders. Hence, his determination, and that of his American supporters, to move ahead with all possible speed while the regional and international environment is in their favour.

Sharon's major asset is Bush. Backing off from engagement in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Bush administration appears to have decided to leave Israel to manage the Palestine problem on its own terms.

So much is clear from its veto of UN Resolutions condemning the wall and Sharon's recent strike inside Syrian territory, from its silence over continued settlement expansion and from its failure to react to Israel's massive destruction of Palestinian property at Rafah, on Gaza's border with Egypt, which this week left 1,500 Palestinians homeless. As he nervously prepares for his election campaign, his ratings slipping in the polls, Bush's collapse before Sharon must be judged one of the blackest pages in recent American history. It has provoked incredulity in Europe and, more ominously, bitter hatred of the United States in Muslim communities around the world.

Yet, Sharon has much cause for satisfaction: while Israel faces no strategic threat, its enemies tremble. A shattered Iraq is under American occupation; Iran, facing great international pressure over its alleged nuclear weapons programme, is wracked by internal conflicts between conservatives and reformers; the Arab Gulf, seemingly indifferent and content, lies under America's military umbrella; Egypt, neutralised by its peace treaty with Israel and by America's annual subsidy, hardly dares open its mouth in defence of the Palestinians; while Syria faces harsh and threatening pressure on all sides - from Washington, now preparing to vote into law the economic and diplomatic boycotts enshrined in the Syria Accountability Act; and from Israel, which last week sent its planes to strike at Syria and seems ready to do so again.

Sharon still thinks he can bludgeon the Palestinians into submission. The attack on the Palestinian camp near Damascus, together with Israel's repeated incursions at Rafah, are clearly intended as warnings to Syria and Egypt to halt all support for the Palestinians - or face the consequences.

But Sharon has not yet found an answer to the suicide bombers who have traumatised the Israel public, ruined the economy, killed the tourist trade and cut off foreign investment.

They are a profound embarrassment to Sharon, but he may think it a price worth paying. His priority is land, not security. That, he believes, will follow once the wall is built and the Palestinians surrender.

Patrick Seale is an eminent commentator and the author of several books on Middle East affairs. The writer can be contacted at: pseale@gulfnews.com

This article can be found on the web at

http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20031103&s=editors

Is Syria Next?

[from the November 3, 2003 issue]

Shortly after 9/11, the government received an extraordinary gift of hundreds of files on Al Qaeda, crucial data on the activities of radical Islamist cells throughout the Middle East and Europe and intelligence about future terrorist plans. These dossiers did not come from Israel or Saudi Arabia, whose kingdom appeared more concerned at the time with securing safe passage for members of the bin Laden family living in the United States, but--as Seymour Hersh revealed in the July 28 New Yorker--from Syria. One CIA analyst told Hersh, "the quality and quantity of information from Syria exceeded the agency's expectations." Yet, the analyst added, the Syrians "got little in return for it."

What they got instead was an unrelenting Washington-sponsored campaign of vilification. It began last year, when the "Axis of Evil" was expanded to include Syria, largely because Syria--a member of the 1991 coalition against Saddam Hussein--refused to support a pre-emptive war against Iraq. And it has culminated in the Syria Accountability Act, approved 33 to 2 by a House committee on October 8. If the bill passes, Syria will not be able to receive "dual use" goods unless it cuts all ties with Hamas and Islamic Jihad (neither of which is linked to Al Qaeda) and cracks down on Hezbollah (a guerrilla movement that enjoys wide popular support among Lebanese Shiites); withdraws its troops from Lebanon; and proves that it is not developing weapons of mass destruction. What's more, the President would be directed to choose from a menu of six additional sanctions, including a freeze on Syrian assets in the United States and a ban on US exports, except food and medicine.

The committee's vote came on the heels of Bush's endorsement of an Israeli airstrike on a Palestinian training camp outside Damascus, Israel's first assault on Syrian territory since 1974. Never mind that the apparently moribund camp belonged to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, not to Islamic Jihad, which claimed responsibility for the October 4 suicide attack in Haifa; or that Israel's attack threatened to widen the already explosive Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In Bush's words, "Israel must not feel constrained in terms of defense of the homeland."

The Syria Accountability Act is all but certain to destroy the fledgling cooperation between US and Syrian intelligence agencies, which have a common interest in combating Islamic extremism. To sabotage such a relationship would seem downright perverse, when America is in desperate need of Arab allies in the "war on terrorism." But a perversion of priorities is something we have come to expect from the Bush Administration, and from the influential neoconservative clique--many of them closely allied with the Israeli right--shaping policy in the Pentagon.

In an eerie replay of the buildup to the war on Iraq, the demonization of Syria has swelled to a chorus in Washington, whose members include not only Republicans but pro-Israel Democrats like Tom Lantos, the senior Democrat on the House committee that passed the act. The leading Democratic presidential candidates backed Bush's support for Israel's bombing in Syria. Only months ago we were told that the "road to peace in Jerusalem runs through Baghdad." As resistance to the US occupation of Iraq grows and the road map continues to crumble, the neocons are having a much harder time making that argument, so we are now being told that the twisted road to peace runs through Damascus.

Syria, to be sure, is hardly an appealing regime. A police state run by a tiny Baathist clique, it deprives its own citizens of the most basic liberties, maintains thousands of troops in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley in violation of UN Resolution 520 and continues to meddle in Lebanon's internal affairs. It has also supported Hezbollah's "resistance" operations against Israeli positions in the disputed Shebaa Farms, finding it a useful proxy force with which to pressure Israel to return the Golan Heights, illegally occupied since 1967. Yet Syria has also played an important role in stabilizing Lebanon since the civil war--a role quietly appreciated by Washington--and in encouraging Hezbollah's transformation from a radical militia to a pragmatic political party. Despite occasional flare-ups, violent incidents on the Lebanese-Israeli border have been rare since Israel's withdrawal in 2000.

The Accountability Act simply ignores this, in a flagrant display of the double standards of US Middle East policy. How, in good faith, can we call for sanctions against Syria for its occupation of Lebanon while coddling Israel, whose incomparably more violent and brutal occupation remains the chief source of troubles in the Mideast--the principal reason we are not viewed as honest brokers? Moreover, while claiming to promote democracy in Syria, the act is more likely to strengthen the hand of the sclerotic Baathist old guard, which can now invoke the threat of an American war to suppress dissent, and hobble President Bashar Assad's (admittedly inadequate) efforts to pursue reform. The intellectuals who participated in Syria's short-lived "Damascus Spring" two years ago will be further silenced by the act for fear of being associated with a policy that might have been devised in Tel Aviv.

In a sense, it was. To properly understand the Syria Accountability Act, one has to go back to a 1996 document, "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," drafted by a team of advisers to Benjamin Netanyahu in his run for prime minister of Israel. The authors included current Bush advisers Richard Perle and Douglas Feith. "Syria challenges Israel on

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Throw the fifth column out of America. Anti-Zionist Friday, Oct. 24, 2003 at 10:42 AM
Or fresca Friday, Oct. 24, 2003 at 1:15 PM
That's Right Fresca Jonathan Pollard Friday, Oct. 24, 2003 at 1:59 PM
I'd say "nil". nonanarchist Saturday, Oct. 25, 2003 at 9:45 AM
I vs. P Sol & Abe Saturday, Oct. 25, 2003 at 9:58 AM
Arab Apartheid Ffutal Saturday, Oct. 25, 2003 at 10:42 AM
maybe fresca Saturday, Oct. 25, 2003 at 4:07 PM
Not stealing other peoples land would be a good start. Observation Post 18 Saturday, Oct. 25, 2003 at 4:21 PM
granted fresca Saturday, Oct. 25, 2003 at 4:40 PM

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