marks the 30th
anniversary of the Yom Kippur War, and it looks like we
may be in for a possible replay of that horrific disaster
in which tens
of thousands lost their lives. Yesterday, Israel
bombed alleged "terrorist camps" in Syria. The excuse:
yet another suicide
bombing in Israel, this time taking 19 innocent lives,
immediately claimed by Islamic Jihad (which denied
having military bases in Syria). This was one of the deadliest
suicide bombings since the beginning of the Intifada, but
in principle no different from the dozens of other vicious
acts of terror that are now a feature of daily life in Israel.
What is different, however, is that Israel's strategic orientation
has radically changed.
30 years ago, Israel was on the defensive, and to a large
degree dependent on the U.S., today they are clearly prepared
to act on their own – without waiting for Washington's okay.
is the chief result of the Iraq war – the unleashing of Israel.
We are seeing the first fruits of our Pyrrhic
"victory" in this latest foray by an emboldened Ariel
Sharon, who clearly hopes that the stalemated outcome of the
first Yom Kippur war can now be overturned.
by surprise, in 1973, Israeli forces reeled from the combined
Egyptian-Syrian sneak attack. Aided by "Operation Nickel Grass,"
an airlift of vital military supplies from the U.S., the Israelis
held their positions and then started to push back – coming
within 43 miles of Cairo and taking the Golan Heights before
the UN called a halt. Today, it is the Syrians who have been
taken by surprise, and, this time, the Israelis may not stop
until they roll through the streets of Damascus. That, at
least, is the threat implicit in their actions.
Iraq war, as we are beginning to discover, had nothing
to do with "weapons of mass destruction," zero
to do with Al Qaeda, and zilch to do
with implanting "democracy" in the inhospitable soil of Iraq.
The first phase of the second Yom Kippur War is revealing,
in action, the strategic doctrine at the heart of U.S. Middle
Eastern policy: the installation of Israel as regional hegemon.
doctrine was prefigured in a 1996 paper prepared for then
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by a working group consisting
of several individuals who are now in top spots in the Bush
administration. "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for
Securing the Realm" recommended that Israel set itself
free from its embarrassing and debilitating dependence on
U.S. military and diplomatic support: no matter how unconditional,
this support constrained Israel and prevented it from pursuing
its true interests. The paper, co-authored by Richard Perle, James
Colbert, Charles Fairbanks,
Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert
Wurmser, and Meyrav
Wurmser, portrayed Syria as the main enemy of Israel,
but maintained the road to Damascus had to first pass through
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."
three of Netanyahu's advisors Perle, Feith, and David
Wurmser – occupy top spots in the foreign policy councils
of the Bush administration, where their fulsome support for
the Iraq war helped implement the first part of the plan.
David Wurmser is chief aide to Undersecretary of Defense John
Bolton, who, before a single shot was fired against Iraq,
was already promising Sharon that Syria would be next. As
Ha'aretz reported at the
time (scroll down):
Undersecretary of State John Bolton said in meetings with
Israeli officials on Monday that he has no doubt America will
attack Iraq, and that it will be necessary to deal with threats
from Syria, Iran and North Korea afterwards."
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was already demanding action against
Syria. At a meeting with a delegation of U.S. congressmen,
the Americans their marching orders:
Minister Ariel Sharon said yesterday that Iran, Libya and
Syria should be stripped of weapons of mass destruction after
Iraq. 'These are irresponsible states, which must be disarmed
of weapons of mass destruction, and a successful American
move in Iraq as a model will make that easier to achieve,'
Sharon said to a visiting delegation of American congressmen.
Sharon told the congressmen that Israel was not involved in
the war with Iraq 'but the American action is of vital importance.'"
instead of being converted on the road to Damascus, the Americans
were deterred from launching future wars by the unpleasant
political and military
blowback emanating from that deepening quagmire. Karl Rove's
"no wars in '04"
dictum threw a roadblock in the path of the pro-Israeli neoconservatives
in the U.S. government, who are now under siege as a result
of the Plame affair. The Israelis, enraged by this turn of
events, are now playing their trump card.
Israeli attack on Syria is a replication of the U.S. attack
on Iraq: the claim of terrorist "links" is followed by unilateral
military action – this time, however, in defiance of the whole
world, including the U.S. rather than just the UN. The actors
are different, but the principle is the same, a similarity
Israel's American amen corner will no doubt raise in order
to justify Sharon's reckless provocation. Israel, we are endlessly
told, has the right to "defend" itself – even if it means
conquering and occupying all of Palestine and driving the
original inhabitants into Jordan. As "A Clean Break" projected
"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
efforts to redefine Iraq."
hand our Palestinian problem over to
the Hashemites, say radical Likud hard-liners and their
American supporters. There is no such
people as the Palestinians, anyway, as Joan
Peters and Alan Dershowitz aver: they are really just
Jordanians. A Hashemite
restoration in Iraq would pave the
way for the creation of a Greater
Israel, fulfilling God's promise to Abraham in the Bible:
your descendants I give this land from the River of Egypt
to the Great River, the river Euphrates."
with its overweening
military might, would dominate the Middle East. This is
the goal of the Christian
dispensationalist ministers, such as Pat Robertson and Jerry
Falwell, who believe Israeli hegemony in the Middle East
represents the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. But a prophecy,
in their view, can be self-fulfilling: it is their Christian
duty, they believe, to hurry it along.
Christian apocalyptic vision of Armageddon in the Middle East
– its inevitability and desirability as a portent of
the Second Coming of Christ – is the key to understanding
conservative Republican support for our war policy in Iraq.
The fundies are perfectly aligned with neoconservative efforts
to spread the conflict to Syria, Iran, and beyond, a development
that would fulfill not only Biblical prophecy, but also the
predictions of anti-war
on Israel's growing military superiority out of Tel Aviv University's
prestigious Jaffee Center led to widespread worries of Israeli
"complacency," and, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports:
Jaffee researchers acknowledge that some of Israel´s new strategic
gains depend on whether the United States manages to stabilize
the regime in Iraq or whether it gets bogged down. If the
latter happens, some of Israel´s gains could be wiped out,
political and military bog in which George W. Bush is caught
has him and his advisors, notably Rumsfeld, scrambling for an
exit strategy. Before this can happen, Israel is seizing
the moment to consolidate its gains. The attack on Syria comes
just when Colin
Powell has been raising more voluble objections to the
of Separation" subsidized by U.S. tax dollars, and the
to kill or exile Arafat is being taken seriously enough
to raise serious concerns even among Israel's staunchest friends.
Worse, from the Israeli perspective, is the news
of secret peace talks between Washington and Tehran. Sharon,
feeling betrayed, is saying: Expand the war, or I will.
on the Republican activist base of millions of dispensationalist
Christians, who put Israeli interests first, the President
of the United States is powerless to stop Sharon's rampage.
With his "road map" derailed, and the neocons already turning
on him (or threatening to),
George W. Bush must be content to watch helplessly as Sharon,
the main beneficiary of the Iraq war, moves to harvest the
fruits of the American victory – while the White House is
stuck with an $87 billion bill, rising casualties, and a simmering
political scandal that threatens to unravel Bush's presidency.
is the thanks Bush gets for going to war for Israel's sake.
Let that be a lesson to him. Too bad it comes far too late
in the day to save either his presidency or his place in history.
But better late than never.
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