Are we serious about Syria?

Syria_pictures_d "But the dispatch of emissaries, including former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon Jeffery Feltman, would mark the highest-level U.S. administration visit in more than four years to Syria, which has been called a state sponsor of terrorism. Syria has been accused of building a secret nuclear reactor that was destroyed by Israeli bombers in 2007 and being behind the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. 

"It's a reversal of what we were trying to do," said John Hannah, a senior fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy who, as national security adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney, worked on Syria policy in the Bush administration. 

Hannah said he's skeptical of President Obama's plans, but he added that the gambit could yield a huge payoff if the U.S. is able to extract Syria from the anti-Western coalition in the Middle East, which is led by Iran."  Foxnews


"It's a reversal of what we were trying to do,"  That's true.  The Bush Administration policy was regime change pure and simple, no ifs ands or buts.  The Syrian government tried to talk to the Bush White House for the last eight years to tell its side of the story.  They were consistently rebuffed, often by Hannah.  The Bush Administration had its own candidate for president of Syria waiting in the wings, a sort of Levantine Chalabi, but, it never quite seemed to work out in Damascus and the US was too tied up in Iraq for "other measures…"

"Syria, which has been called…"  Sure.  The power of description is a mighty power.  All of you reading this…  I can call you anything I like; child molester, adulterer, racist, whatever and I could make it "stick."  "Information Operations" are the style of the neocons, the Bush Administration and their little foreign pals.  Think such accusations through for yourselves.

Now we are sending Jeffrey  (I don't care how it is spelt) Feltman to Damascus to render an opinion on the sincerity of the Syrians.  When Feltman was US ambassador to Lebanon under Bush #43, he was an unrelenting enemy of the Syrians.

Are we serious about this or is this just more Bush policy under new management?  p

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21 Responses to Are we serious about Syria?

  1. Karl Stewart says:

    The latter please. You are are occasionally succinctly sublime. Please consider Chris Floyd’s take on this as it relates to your former post as well regarding Dennis Ross.

  2. MRW. says:

    “Syria has been accused of building a secret nuclear reactor that was destroyed by Israeli bombers in 2007 and being behind the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.”

    The second first: The Mossad was accused of offing Hariri. Robert Fisk reported it.
    About the reactor: It took me over an hour to find this report by Trish Schuh, co-founder of Military Families Support Network and is a member of Military Reporters & Editors covering the middle east. She was the only western journalist to actually go to Dayr az-Zawr (Deir al-Zur) in the days after the bombing in 2007. It’s called No smoking gun in Syria.
    Schuh tried in DC to get a stateside newspaper to publish her report. None would. These two paragraphs, IMO, tell why:

    After the invasion of Iraq, former U.S. Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner identified charges against Syria as one of 50 false news stories created by Israel and the White House to justify war. “Saddam’s nuclear WMDs moved to Syria” was propaganda he said.
    Several days ago, after the attack on Syria, I spoke to Western oil company officials in Deir Ez Zor. One technician told me they routinely monitor radiation as part of the refining process. They registered no heightened levels of nuclear residue in the area as there would have been if the Israelis had hit a North Korean atomic stockpile. Operations and technical foremen put it this way: “The nuclear claims against Syria are pure bull****.”

  3. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    “…more Bush policy…”
    Team Obama has a VERY short time frame to demonstrate authentic “change” in US policy.
    The last US President to take firm measures against Israel in order to protect US national interests was Eisenhower at Suez, 1956.
    Despite the hopes of many Americans, the odds for authentic “change” in US Middle East policy are not good if the last half century is any guide.
    At some point perhaps sooner rather than later in the coming weeks, we will have enough indicators to make some realistic judgments on Team Obama anent the Middle East.
    The Ross appointment shows that either 1) Ms. Clinton WANTED him, or 2) Ms. Clinton did not have the power to place her own person in the slot.
    The Feltman mission is a clear indicator to all in the Middle East given his performance in Beirut. Is this what Ms. Clinton REALLY intended, or does she not yet understand how things work?
    Again, IMO the window is very narrow indeed for Team Obama to demonstrate authentic “change.” The American people and the world have suffered enough from the faux diplomacy of the pro-Israel American foreign policy establishment.
    “He joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1986, serving his first tour as consular officer in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He has spent much of his career dealing with Eastern Europe and the Near East. He served in Embassy Tel Aviv as Ambassador Martin Indyk’s Special Assistant on Peace Process issues (2000-2001). Before that, from 1998-2000, Feltman served as Chief of the Political and Economic Section at the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia. He served in the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv from 1995 to 1998, covering economic issues in the Gaza Strip.”
    Bio on Feltman:

  4. mo says:

    Yesterday Kerry said :
    “We should have no illusion that Syria will immediately end its ties to Iran,” Kerry said, “but that shouldn’t threaten us as long as their relationship ceases to destabilize the region.” “It benefits Syria if Assad looks west for new relationships,” Kerry said. “The sanctions can always be tightened again if Syria backtracks,” he said. ”
    See if you can spot which one of those statments is wrong.
    Ok, its a trick question as the answer is all of them.
    The administration has changed but the lack of understanding, the failure to grasp the dynamics and the inability to look past what is good for Israel has quite blatantly not.
    Well he did say Change you can believe in, not Change that will surprise you, din’t he?

  5. JohnH says:

    “It’s a reversal of what we were trying to do.”
    You can’t have a permanent war without lots of bogeymen. There must be lots of “defense” contractors up in arms at any overture from the Obama administration. Hannah is probably one of their shills.

  6. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    Let’s see…
    Dramatis Personae:
    Rahm Emmanuel – He comes from good Irgun stock! (Our kind of terrorist.)
    Dennis Ross – Made man for the Lobby.
    Jeffrey Feltman – A man is ultimately known by the company he keeps…
    So, my vote would have to be given over to the second option. Unless, of course, “serious” means craven submission by the Syrians, with no admixture of negotiation. But then, I repeat myself.

  7. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think Mr. Kerry and like-minded people in US expect the Allawite sect to become the Judas of Islam.

  8. Allen Thomson says:

    The affair of the claimed reactor is continuing. I’m maintaining an aggregation of the reportage about it at . To get to current events, search down to Appendix A and read up. Be warned: it’s long and not entirely neat.
    For what it’s worth and as little as I like it, the “it really was a plutonium production reactor” hypothesis/claim seems to be leading the pack of possible explanations.

  9. Cloned Poster says:

    JFK wanted US oversight of Israel nuclear plans in Dimona.

  10. LeaNder says:

    Will Chas Freeman survive the “information operations” onslaughts?

  11. LeaNder says:

    mo, the same statement caught my attention:
    “We should have no illusion that Syria will immediately end its ties to Iran,” Kerry said,
    but then, I also learned that as a politician you have to phrase carefully. Why are these power games always about isolating some and forcing them into line against others?
    End it’s ties, means what?
    Close down the embassy in Iran? End all economic ties when ordered? All ties in the culture sectors. …
    It shows that I am a nitwit.

  12. feocito says:

    Pat —
    Jeff Feltman is a seasoned professional. He’s not a warrior, but he’s very good at what he does. Not sure that your comment about his being anti-Syrian during his time in Lebanon holds much water. The Syrians, based on a host of open source reporting, were in fact trying to derail a lot of what was going on in Lebanon. It’s therefore pretty easy for the U.S. ambo to appear “anti-Syrian”.

  13. Patrick Lang says:

    Nah. I don’t buy that. He was at the heart of the effort to frustrate the result of the last parliamentary election in Lebanon on the basis that those who had gained seats were pro-Syrian.
    He went to great lengths in that effort and delayed Lebanese reconciliation by a year. pl

  14. mo says:

    Judas to Islam I can understand; Judas to themselves, unlikely.
    Filtered down the ultimate goal of the Zionist project is that the Palestinians lie down and wait to die. For this to happen they have to give up all hope. For that to happen they have to be abandoned by all their brethren, both Arab and Islamic. Therefore, each state or non-state actor that gives the Palestinians hope must be reoved or reducted. Iraq, Iran, Hizballah, Hamas and Syria. So far the score is 2-1 to the Pro-Palestinians.
    Feltman complain about Syrian derailment of Lebanese aspirations? Perhaps the open source reporting you are utilising is not as balanced as you think. Some of Feltmans goals in Lebanon? Heres the beginning of a list for you:
    -Formulate ways to weaken Hezbollah and the influence of the Lebanese Resistance in Lebanese politics and the Region
    -Sharply reduce, with the eventual objective of elimination, Syrian and Iranian influence in Lebanese politics and help identify their “assets.”
    -Conduct and coordinate with visiting US officials, on site visits and undertake discussions with Tripoli/Bignin/Akkar Sunni groups with respect to a possible joint US-Lebanese Airbase at Kleiaat
    -Analyse the feasibility of a North Lebanon Sunni Army (read Salafists) to check Hizballah power
    -Facilitate the establishment of a new Shia political party in the Tyre area in order to counter and weaken Amal and Hezbollah
    -Analyze the prospects of a civil war in Lebanon involving March 14 Christians and Sunni Muslims against (Aounist) Christians and Shia Muslims
    -Investigate and analyze the possibility of Lebanon being divided into autonomous Regions.
    -Bolster the acceptance and popular standing in Lebanon of the Maronite Lebanese Forces and the Druze Socialist Party led by Samir Geagea and Walid Jumblatt respectively.
    -Continue analysis of the feasibility of a US-Lebanese Strategic Alliance with a possible NATO aspect
    And on the second day…..

  15. castellio says:

    Well, Mo, that’s the most cogent listings of Feltman’s tasks I’ve read.

  16. Lewis says:

    @ MRW:
    Recent UN inspections have found uranium at the bomb site:
    Syria, on the other hand, flatly denies it was a nuclear facility of any kind.

  17. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I read that they found 90 particles.
    Is that true?
    What can be technically inferred from it?

  18. MRW. says:

    I am aware of that. They found 80 particles last December. 15 months after the fact. I needn’t tell you how much truck I put in that discovery, given the range of false flag operations and standard deceptions of the Israelis.

  19. david says:

    To steal a quip from another time, Bushism without the Bush?
    Perhaps, but it is much too early to say. Given the economic crisis, I think Obama is very much leaning toward the status quo with respect to various ME files, Syria included — the exception, of course, being Iran given a likely increase in Israeli pressure on the WH.
    Moreover, the previous administration so front-loaded any talks with the Syrians that it would be something of a dereliction in duty for American diplomats to simply walk away from all of those positions. And indeed, one has to say that Abrams, Hanna et al. did do a rather ‘good’ job of creating facts on the ground to restrict the diplomatic options available to the new administration.
    Assad said recently that the US and Syria had a 70/30 split on areas where cooperation was possible and where such was impossible. I agree, and hope the administration is addressing the 70 percent (Iraqi refugees, development assistance, intelligence cooperation, etc).
    Talk of severing Syria from its strategic alliance with Iran or ending its political and other support for Hamas and Hizbullah or the return of the Golan seems largely a political game, designed to torpedo any progress toward a US-Syrian rapprochement. Indeed, the shriekers are already out in force on our tvs and in our newspapers.
    Anyway, I think it best to reserve judgment for as much as a year. I am glad Obama sent envoys, but he is ultimately a pragmatist, which in politics means he likes to win.
    Under current conditions, talking to Syria is a win, but trying to re-order significantly the ME or US policy there is not.
    I know we are talking about Upper Galillee but last I checked the fellow in the WH does not walk on water.

  20. curious says:

    Talk of severing Syria from its strategic alliance with Iran or ending its political and other support for Hamas and Hizbullah or the return of the Golan seems largely a political game, designed to torpedo any progress toward a US-Syrian rapprochement.
    Posted by: david | 06 March 2009 at 06:21 PM
    yeah, but if Hillary is running neocon lite diplomacy agenda. Her current move is simply prettier face of trying to split Syria and Iran, and then snuff them one by one.
    I am not sure if Syria and Iran buy her gambit or merely entertaining her.
    In other words, whatever she is doing now, is just a news filler, because fundamentally, nothing really changes. 6-10 months from now, Israel border attack, diplomatic spat, more bickering at the UN, etc (re-run of past 8 years)
    So, whatever it is, Syria would have to hedge their bet for next israel attack. Lebanon, missiles, russia naval base, radar, hezbollah, etc.
    Everybody is playing the neocon game. (there should be a name for this show.)

  21. curious says:

    This is like watching train wreck in slow motion. (re-run train wreck.) The narrative is going to be “Hillary is running neocone lite foreign policy.
    Well, I for one think Russia is grinning about right now. Oil price .. ka-ching. China is thinking .. o-shit. stock pile and dump that T-bill discretely somehow.
    Avigdor Lieberman in line for Israel foreign minister job
    From the JP March 5th: “Israel is seriously considering taking unilateral military action to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, according to a report by top US political figures and experts released Wednesday. The report also says Israel’s time frame for action is growing shorter, not only because of Iranian advances, but because Teheran might soon acquire upgraded air defenses and disperse its nuclear program to additional locations.”
    A key point to remember here is that there is a world of difference between having enough enriched uranium for a weapon, and actually producing a weapon or being able to deliver that weapon to a target. I suspect there is more, rather than less, time to deal with this issue.

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