would be funny if it wasn't so ominous. Remember those "weapons
of mass destruction" the Iraqis were supposed to be holding,
poised to strike us at any moment?
Yeah, that's right, the
ones that turned out to not exist – or were destroyed
after Gulf War I. Or something.
Well, anyway, it turns out they aren't missing, after
all – they were spirited over the border to Syria! Honest!
Cross my heart and hope to die. If you don't believe me, just
Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control. Testifying
before the House International Relations subcommittee, Bolton
said the United States sees such reports "as cause for concern,"
although they haven't been confirmed. "We are continuing,"
he averred, "to seek conclusive evidence": the U.S. has raised
the issue with the Syrians "on numerous occasions."
a key figure in the neocon clique that lied us into war with Iraq
– drew up a familiar indictment: the Syrians are assembling
"weapons of mass destruction," sponsoring terrorism, and are
even suspected of secretly building nukes. In short, the same
accusations that turned out to be lies last time around, this
time are leveled at Damascus, with the extra added twist that
the Syrians are supposedly encouraging foreign volunteers
to cross the border into Iraq to fight the occupation forces.
of this story in
the Forward will remember that Bolton was supposed
to have testified in July, but the CIA and the State Department
objected: in their view, the same people who gave us the Niger
didn't deserve an encore. Bolton's assertions were reportedly
debunked in a 38-page internal memo, and his testimony was
delayed. Now the Energizer Warmonger has popped up again,
spouting "intelligence" that has already been vetted and found
wanting. What is going on here?
we are witnessing is the culmination of a strategy clearly
outlined in a 1996 paper prepared for the Institute for Advanced
Strategic and Political Studies, entitled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for
Securing the Realm." This was a collaborative effort by
Richard Perle, James
Colbert, Charles Fairbanks,
Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert
Wurmser, and Meyrav
Wurmser – a good number of whom are now ensconced in high
positions in this administration. The paper outlined for then
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a new Israeli strategic
vision that would not only rid the Israelis of their Palestinian
problem, but give them "breathing space" and revitalize the
Zionist dream of a Greater 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.
Jordan has challenged Syria's regional ambitions recently
by suggesting the restoration of the Hashemites in Iraq."
back Syrian influence in Lebanon, and even calling for strikes
within Syria itself, the authors of "A Clean Break" laid out
a road map for making the Middle East safe for Israel – one
that had nothing to do with creating a Palestinian state.
Syria was seen as the main enemy, but, in their view, the
road to Damascus had to start in Baghdad – as it has. Using
the U.S. as a blunt instrument, Israel has shaped its
strategic environment. While the Coalition Provisional Authority
hasn't restored the Hashemites quite yet,
Bolton's testimony signals that the second phase of Operation
Clean Break is underway.
the most militantly obnoxious of the neocons, Bolton's belligerence
is underscored by his tone of unbridled arrogance:
course," he testified,
will have much more to say on all of these subjects during
the closed hearing, and I look forward to a more specific
and detailed discussion than we can have in an open hearing.
As we all recognize, the importance of protecting and preserving
vital intelligence sources and methods necessarily and properly
restricts what we can say publicly. Nonetheless, the conduct
of national security requires that we take all available information
into account, which I believe we will be able to do in a classified
other words: it's none of the public's business why or how
we might go to war. The neocons know what's best for us. And,
no, we can't say who is the source of this endless stream
of fabrications, fibs, and crude forgeries.
That information is "properly restricted."
his concluding remarks to the committee, Bolton invoked the
specter of "the destructive potential of terrorism on September
11," leading one to wonder when we'll be hearing that the
Syrians were really behind 9/11. Maybe we can put Laurie
Mylroie on the job, under contract with the Office of Special Plans.
to the Council on Foreign Relations, Syria has been our ally
in the war against Al Qaeda:
and the United States have shared intelligence about al-Qaeda,
according to U.S. government sources, and FBI and CIA officials
have reportedly traveled to Syria to meet with Syrian intelligence
officers. The two countries are also said to be cooperating
to gather information about what the September 11 hijacker
Muhammad Atta did while researching his university thesis
in the Syrian city of Aleppo in the 1990s and about Syrian-born
individuals who investigators say were connected to the al-Qaeda
cell in Hamburg, Germany, involved in the September 11 attacks.
Syria has reportedly allowed U.S. officials to put questions
to an alleged al-Qaeda associate who it's holding, a Syrian-born
German citizen first detained in Morocco."
is a regional test for the U.S. Here is an Arab country, seen
by Israel as an implacable enemy, uniquely positioned to give
the U.S. invaluable cooperation. The American interest is
clearly rapprochement, while the Israeli interest is just
as clearly confrontation. As to whose interests will prevail,
in the struggle within the administration, I am in no position
to predict – only to hope.
lobby in the U.S. is pushing hard to impose economic
sanctions on their next target, and pressuring this administration
to ratchet up the rhetoric. Karl Rove's "no
war in '04" rule, discussed in my
last column, may not be able to withstand their machinations.
We are a border incident away from taking the war into Syria,
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