"When Israeli officials asked Secretary Rice about the possibility of exploring the seriousness of Syria in its calls for peace talks, her response was unequivocal: Don’t even think about it.
Israeli officials, including those in the intelligence community, are divided over the degree to which Syrian President Bashar Assad is serious and sincere in his call for peace talks with Israel.
One view describes Assad’s call as a propaganda campaign, and insists that the Syrian leader is not serious. Among those holding this view is Mossad chief Meir Dagan.
In Military Intelligence the view differs. There are those who say that Assad is serious in his call for peace talks, but also say that this does not mean that those talks would be easy for Israel. They even suggest that there is a very good chance that the talks would fail.
It is also known that the Syrians have recently tried to send messages to the Israeli leadership through intermediaries in Europe. These are English nationals and former American diplomats. " Haaretz
Actually, this is "old news," but worth a comment anyway. The Syrian "banditti" have been trying to "dial out" to Washington and Tel Aviv for years now. They are frightened by the overt hostility of the Bush Administration, and would very much like to make a deal. What deal? It seems to me that the level of their perceived vulnerability is so high that they would pretty much make any deal that offered the regime survival and a chance to re-build relations.
Washington is not interested. Why? It is because the survival of the Syrian "bandit" regime is not part of the "Freedom Agenda." Now, I know that the "economic determinist" crowd will work out some way to find that American financial or resource interests are to blame for this attitude in Washington. That will be interesting. The anti-Zionist crowd will surely explain our attitude toward Syria in the usual way. But, is that altogether satisfactory as an explanation? I think not.
It has always seemed to me that the interaction of American friends of Israel and the various Israeli governments has been a "two way" business. On many occasions it has been clear to me that the Israeli government has been unable to "dictate" the terms of cooperation.
This appears to be one such case. It is not a surprise to me that IDF intelligence (Aman) has within it, a variety of opinions concerning the possibilities in Syria. That was always true in the past. Why should the situation be different now? I sense an opportunity for an agreement between Damascus and Tel Aviv. Unfortunately for the two parties involved, their interests are being sacrificed in the pursuit of the "dreams," the bloody minded "dreams." pl
COL Lang, I was wondering what you thought about the relative independence of Hizbullah in Lebanon vis a vis Syria and Iran? Do they dictate their own path or are their completely puppets?
I have to agree with you Col. I think the US blocking is based neither on economic factors or directly on the Israel factor. I think the reason is simply that the US wants regime change in Syria and an already weak Assad can be easily toppled once the Iranian “threat” that supports him is removed. I think Rice is saying dont talk to them now, talk to the next guys, they may well be “our” guys.
Pat has hit the nail on the head. The problem is not the Israelis, but their rabid supporters in the U.S. Not all Jews, but many are, to wit: Irve Lewis “Scooter” Liby, Jr, Elliot Abrams, William Kristol, Feith, et al. And not all Jews are NeoKon Likudniks.
James Petras, a retired Marxist Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at
Binghamton University, SUNY, has laid out the elephant in the room that is going to continuously involve us in one MidEast War after another.
===Power of Israel in the United States===
– Petras has put his views in a book on this topic. He puts forth the
thesis that American Jewry are less than 2% of the population, yet represent
25-30% of U.S.’s wealthiest families (citing [[Forbes]]). He asserts that
they wield their wealth effectively. As an example (citing [[Richard Cohen]]
in the [[Washington Post]]) — supplying 60% and 35% of the total
contributions respectively of the American Democratic and Republican
political parties. Petras maintains that little public discussion is allowed
about this financial power. While he would assert Zionism is the problem,
the Jewish influence in the U.S. embroils the MidEast in endless Wars
# The Power of Israel in the United States. (Paperback) (2006) ISBN
What is the answer?
A realization of the “Elephant in the Room” followed by a concerted push to follow up on the Clinton track for a full Israel-Palestinian Peace according to the negotiated Taba Accord or Geneva proposal. Followed by implementation of the Abdullah Beirut initiative signed by all 22 Arab nations calling for full peace and trade. Iran would follow.
What the fool Dumbya should have done upon being selected by the Supremes as Prez is appoint William Jefferson Clinton as Special Envoy to the MidEast to finish his Peace Duties instead of starting another fwcking War, escpecially after 9.11.
Powell was a whorish enabler.
Wars w/o End until we address the elephant in the Room. The elephant is the necessity of a final border for Israel and Justice for the Palestinians.
I am not being anti Semitic or new anti Semitic.
Professor James Pe
How much of this resistance to negotiation can be traced to the need for maintaining Israeli Exceptionalism? I’d be surprised if Bush’s diplomatic (?) policies survive his presidency by more than a minute but until then I don’t think we can know what’s driving this anti-negotiation stance. I suspect it has a lot to do with maintaining Israel’s position as sole democratic country in the region, which the war in Lebanon confirmed – suddenly the Cedar Revolution wasn’t so important.
The tremendous effort made to maintain Israeli Exceptionalism means it won’t be abandoned lightly by any Amrican administration, hence Rice’s continued back-pedaling from the Spread Democracy rhetoric. If Syria, for example, could negotiate its way to a separate peace with Israel who knows what might happen internally? Maybe democratic reform could take place – I think this is what the Bush Administration fears the most – it’s one way to explain the difference between the nonsense about Democracy and the reality of propping up anti-democratic regimes in the region.
I think that there is another explanation: the offices of Elliott Abrams and Cheney do not believe in diplomacy, and believe that it has worked against America’s and Israel’s best interests, and that there is nothing to be gained from it.
Their natural instinct is to resort to the threat of war, then war, in all instances, regardless of whether it is with regard to Hezbollah in Lebanon, Syria or Iran.
Behind all their threats, there is a certain urgency, because after the Bush administration ends, it is highly unlikely that another American administration will resort to force as easily as the Bush administration.
The only way to look at the offices of Cheney and Abrams is as an unelected government within a government which has hijacked American foreign policy. Without a president as ignorant of foreign affairs as Bush, such a coup would not have been possible.
Frankly I think that the “Freedom Agenda” has more or less ceased to be, and everyone is just waiting for the funeral to take place in 2009.
What intrigues me is the potential for third-parties to simply end-run Washington over the current set of diplomatic headaches. Absent “events” intruding from left field, it probably won’t happen this year, but I can’t help feeling that 2008 might throw up a few surprises.
I appreciate that Washington likes to call the shots, but there is nothing that prevents Syria and Israel from, in principle, pursuing a diplomatic trick without Rice’s blessing.
You folks vastly underestimate the level of ignorant fanaticism, in such places as the office of the VP and the NSC. pl
The Bush Admin’s attitude towards diplomacy with its “evil enemies” is that it’s weakness to have talks when you’re in a position of relative strength (Iran, April 2003) and it’s “rewarding opposition” to have talks when you’re in a position of relative weakness (Iran and Syria, early 2007).
I think one can see the common denominator—no diplomacy with “evil”, ever. But Colonel Lang spotted this truth long ago–this is just more evidence.
My comments above were not plagiarized even absent quote marks. They were from a deleted section of my addition to the James Petras wikipedia article. Afficianados may have noted the wiki formatting.
WP is a great place for general info but when it comes to Israel, look out, everything gets sanitized. Like Robert Lindsay says, you ain’t doing any serious editing until you’ve been wiki blocked for a while.
I agree with your statement about the level of ignorant fanaticism in the offices of the VP and NSC.
I believe that the current officeholders want to set this level of fanaticism in stone, so that following administrations will effectively be put into a foreign policy straitjacket. The US will become the world’s Rambo, with the armed forces as the weapon, striking down any perceived threats regardless of where they are. Today it’s the war on Islamofascists, tomorrow it’s China, then it’s Russia; it just goes on and on…
As US economic might is on the decline, throwing America’s military might around will be a way of externalizing America’s woes, and shifting the blame away from US politicians and domestic policy. (“We need to recognize that there are many enemies out there who hate us and want to hurt us, and we must remember the lesson of 9/11, that we must strike them before they strike us.”)
This is what George W. Bush wants to remind us of whenever he speaks. If Americans do buy into this line, then yes, it is possible for him to become another Churchill.
How long do you think the American people will buy that line? I think many will buy it for a long time…
H.L. Mencken said in the 20s that no one went bankrupt underestimating the ignorance of the American people. Since then, it has gotten a lot worse.
My impression is that a principle of US foreign policy (under the current group at least) is that we should never strengthen any country that is not absolutely with us. Not incidentally and definately not directly.
It seems a policy exclusively founded on dominance. Any sense of equality among nation states appears to be viewed as threatening to the order of things.
Chris and Col. Lang–
I think both of you have it figured out. People not only underestimate the fanaticism of Cheney&Co, but also the apathy and ignorance of most Americans about foreign affairs….they don’t really care and they don’t want to be bothered with trying to understand anyone outside the U.S. borders–hell, they don’t even want to understand what the internal opposition is trying to say. All this does not at all bode well for our collective future.
Perhaps “ignorant fanaticism” and exceptionalism are welded together? If “tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner”, then where nothing is understood, nothing is forgiven. It is a short hop to “Good versus Evil” and bloody chaos.
These are not over-bright guys and they just do not do negotiation, complexity or alternative viewpoints that threaten in any way their cocoon of invincible ignorance. Meeting “bad” people and talking to them might burst the bubble. Who said being the superpower was easy?
Incestuous amplification in this unusually pure form is not limited to the VP’s office. The feudalism within boardrooms and the top levels of many megacompanies is very similar with dissenting voices excluded, moderate insiders learning to shut up and external critics vilified and, if possible, destroyed.
cheney=pumphead + dumbya=dry.alkholic = we=SWOL
Though I do not consider myself “an economic determinist”, I do believe in a principle of sufficient reason to account for actions of state actors. Can psychological facts (e.g. collective delusions or fanatical collective dreams) account for behavior of the nation-state? Yes, for example, the political motivations of the nazi state were founded on racism and it makes more sense to me to regard that racism as a delusion that was nourished by a peculuiar historical context, rather than as an intentional process of some economic class to affirm its control.
However, to claim that “dreams” of a new middle east or some fanatical delusion is the cause of the Bush administration’s policy in the middle east, a policy for example which excludes any kind of discussion with Iran, is not reasonable without some independent account of why that delusion should take hold of the leaders of a major power.
The sufficient reason question remains unanswered.
There is street justice to America’s discouragement of peace talks between Israel and Syria. No foreign country was more responsible for the Iraq fiasco than Israel. They lobbied for it. They fear-mongered for it. And now they can’t escape the black hole they helped Bush create.
I think all of you are correct in your observations, but not the underlying reason why the Neocons are doing what they are doing – and that is to maintain the status quo in America, and hence their power, socially, economically and culturally.
Israel is a partner in this process, but for different reasons.
Orwell was not the first to devise the idea of the use of war as a means of social control.
As far as I can tell, the first user of this technique was Kaiser Wilhelm II in the ten years or so prior to world war one. His theme was that the “great powers” – England, France, Russia, were denying Germany its “Rightful” place as a “Great Power” through conspiracy and other tactics. A patriotic and obedient working class therefore put aside their calls for social and economic reform and were led to disaster. In other words; “Stop arguing for change, we are at war!”
Hitler used the same tactic , so effective on simple and patriotic Germans, in 1933, using it to justify the buildup of his military machine and suppression of rivals.
Stalin used it the following year, taking complete control of the state after the (preplanned) assassination of Kirov in 1934 and the beginning of the purges.
What the Neocons continue to fear is the emergence of a reformist American Administration and Legislature that will reform and rebuild the inherently corrupt, inefficient and inequitable systems of American Government and the economy.
Look no further than campaign finance, electoral processes, the complete health system, industry protection, Agricultural practices, Tax and so on and so on. Everywhere the invisible hand of the market is shackled by bizarre legislation and special deals.
The powerful have a lot to be frightened about – and their response, via the PNAC and the AEI, is exactly the same as Wilhelm’s, Hitler’s and Stalin’s – keep America in a state of perpetual war. As a result we have the “Global War on Terror”, an unwinnable, permanent war on a shadowy, amorphous undefinable enemy who is everywhere and anywhere.
This is apparent to anyone who reads the assumptions and advice contained in Neocon websites and publications. Their intentions are not to “win” the Iraq war, but to throw more gasoline on the conflagration.
Examples of this include the almost continuous suggestion that the bulk of the trouble in Iraq is caused by “foriegn jihadists and Al Qaeeda” who stream across the borders of Iran and Syria in an unbroken stream from the four corners of the world solely to take American lives. This is despite the fact that the State Department has gone on record as saying that foriegners make up between four and ten percent of insurgents.
Having made this assumption, the Neocons then proceed to advance their poisonous solutions; “bomb Syria with cluster bombs”, “Make incursions into Syria”, “free up the troops rules of engagement”, “regime change in Syria”, “Regime change in Iran”, in fact they suggest anything and everything that will prolong war and avoid the making of a just peace with the Islamic world. They do it to maintain the power structures in America today. They fear reform.
As for Israel, the thought of prosperous, democratic and secular Arab states as Lebanon was becoming prior to Israel’s attacks is a nightmare, because once these States offer good investment opportunities for American interests, America’s support for Israel will wither and the pressure to make a just peace with the Palestinians will become unbearable.
I’m not sure if we will attack Iran or Syria first at the moment, but we should remember that they have a mutual defence pact.
Per Syria: Back in the mid-1990s, the Neoconservative “Clean Break” crowd indicated a desire for a Balkanized Syria in order to enhance Israel’s security.
What are the various plausible scenarios for Syria today? Continued Alawite minority rule? “Free elections” that bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power? A Balkanized Syria of micro-states for Alawites, Sunnis, and others?
Per “economic determinism”: In 2002, I spoke with an executive of a major US energy company who told me the White House had blocked a major potential pipeline project in Syria his company was considering. Is it the nature of the regime (“biddable” or not “biddable”) sitting on top of oil reserves or strategic pipeline routes that is a key determing factor in the final analysis?
The Washington Post reported our President’s official perspective as follows:
“….Bush said extremists controlling Iraq “would use energy as economic blackmail” and try to pressure the United States to abandon its alliance with Israel.” (Peter Baker, “Bush Says U.S. Pullout Would Let Iraq Radicals Use Oil as a Weapon,” November 5, 2006).
It would appear that in the mind of the Decider, and in his official policy formulation, there is a direct relationship between politics (the nature of certain regimes) and hydrocarbons (including associated pipeline and infrastructure issues).
Dr. Clifford Kiracofe
Department of History
Virginia Military Institute