Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
New York Times: An Israeli Strike on Syria Kindles Debate in the U.S.

A sharp debate is under way in the Bush administration about the significance of the Israeli intelligence that led to last month's Israeli strike inside Syria, according to current and former American government officials. <...>

It has long been known that North Korean scientists have aided Damascus in developing sophisticated ballistic missile technology, and there appears to be little debate that North Koreans frequently visited a site in the Syrian desert that Israeli jets attacked Sept. 6. Where officials disagree is whether the accumulated evidence points to a Syrian nuclear program that poses a significant threat to the Middle East.

Mr. Cheney and his allies have expressed unease at the decision last week by President Bush and Ms. Rice to proceed with an agreement to supply North Korea with economic aid in return for the North's disabling its nuclear reactor. Those officials argued that the Israeli intelligence demonstrates that North Korea cannot be trusted. They also argue that the United States should be prepared to scuttle the agreement unless North Korea admits to its dealing with the Syrians. <...>

The Israeli strike occurred at a particularly delicate time for American diplomatic efforts. In addition to the North Korean nuclear negotiations, the White House is also trying to engineer a regional Middle East peace conference that would work toward a comprehensive peace accord between Arabs and Israelis.



The key to culture is religion. Daniel Dennett @ TED (Feb 2006)
by marco on Tue Oct 9th, 2007 at 11:54:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It has long been known that North Korean scientists have aided Damascus in developing sophisticated ballistic missile technology, and there appears to be little debate that North Koreans frequently visited a site in the Syrian desert that Israeli jets attacked Sept. 6.

Thus, a cooperative military relationship has been established unequivocally in the reader's mind between North Korea and Syria.

Furthermore, many readers may easily confuse and conflate "ballistic missile technology" with "nuclear technology".  I almost did.

(The confusion between "ballistic missile" and "nuclear" technologies might have been primed by an earlier article in the Washington Post, just one week after the attack:

N. Korea, Syria May Be at Work on Nuclear Facility )

The key to culture is religion. Daniel Dennett @ TED (Feb 2006)

by marco on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 12:11:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From the article:

Mr. Cheney and his allies have expressed unease at the decision last week by President Bush and Ms. Rice to proceed with an agreement to supply North Korea with economic aid in return for the North's disabling its nuclear reactor.

From Joseph Cirincione on September 14:

This time it appears aimed at derailing the U.S.-North Korean agreement that administration hardliners think is appeasement. Some Israelis want to thwart any dialogue between the U.S. and Syria.

Also, in addition to potentially disrupting the North Korean nuclear negotiations -- and perhaps also the Middle East peace conference (the "dialogue between the U.S. and Syria" that Cirincione mentions) -- the attack allowed U.S. and Israeli strategists to test the effectiveness of the Pantsyr-S1E air defense missles  used both by Syria and Iran, to better a plan a possible attack on Iran and/or to send an oblique message to Iran.

These two objectives (perhaps there were others) would have dovetailed nicely as a reason to greenlight the airstrike on this Syrian site... assuming, of course, that intelligence about a North Korea-assisted nuclear arms program turns out to have been wrong.  (However, on that, please see Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson's comments on this September 21 Worldview interview.)

Regarding the intentional disruption of peace initiatives in the Middle East, an interview I just heard with Israeli-Iranian relations expert Trita Parsi, who is promoting his new book Treacherous Alliance - The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States, made the idea sound more plausible.  In the interview, Parsi says:

In 1991-93, that's when you see the real shift in Israeli-Iranian relations.  Because that's when the Cold War ended, and that's when Iraq was defeated in the first Persian Gulf War.  So the two threats that were pushing Iran and Israel closer together evaporated.  And there was a new security environment in the Middle East, a new environment that actually was beneficial to both Israel and to Iran, but at the same time, created a situation in which they felt that they were both unchecked.  There was no longer an Iraq that could balance Iran from the Israeli perspective.  And they started to view each other as a potential threat, and that's when this rivalry starts to emerge.  And from that time, particularly with the peace process and failed Iranian attempts to reach out to the United States, both Israel and Iran have undermined U.S. foreign policy initiatives in the Middle East, that they deemed beneficial to the other.

How so?

The Iranians, for instance, sought to undermine the peace process because they feared that if the peace process would have been successful, it would have given Israel a tremendous benefit in the region and would have created an Israel-centric Middle East order based on Iran's prolonged isolation, because everything they had done to be able to mend fences with the United States had failed.  Israel, on the other hand, after 1993, feared that if the United States and Iran negotiated, the United States would betray Israeli security interests in such a dialogue because of the tremendous amounts of strategic benefits a better relationship with Iran could give the United States.  And in that type of situation, Israel's concerns would no longer be as important.  And the Israelis and AIPAC have for quite some time undermined efforts to be able to have a rapprochement between the United States and Iran.

Here Parsi is talking about Iranian and Israeli efforts to undermine constructive intiatives for peace in the Middle East.  In this particular instance, Cirincione  suggests that the Israel may have desired to obstruct dialogue between the U.S. and Syria (though I didn't know there was any imminent warming of relations between the two countries.)  However, I don't see why the same principle could not have been applied by Cheney himself with respect to nuclear negotiations with North Korea: if he thinks taking a harder stance towards North Korea is the best policy, then it would be in his interest to subvert the nuclear talks in the short term, and accusing North Korea of assisting Syria in building a nuclear arms program and letting Israel take it out in a top-secret operation that no one can really ascertain the truth of might be one way he wanted to do this.

Is Cirincione's notion too contrived and conspiratorial?

The key to culture is religion. Daniel Dennett @ TED (Feb 2006)

by marco on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 01:04:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This stuff has been going on for years. See, for instance, this from 2005.

SyriaComment.com: Syria is being Set Up to Fail: A Leaked Letter from Washington (October 23, 2005)

For over a year Syria has been trying to cooperate with the West on the Iraq border, on the issue of terrorism finance, on the issue of stopping Jihadists from getting into Syria, on intelligence sharing, and on stabilizing Iraq.

Washington has consistently refused to take "Yes" as an answer. Why? The only credible reason is because Washington wants regime change in Syria. The US administration is sacrificing American soldiers in Iraq in order to carry out its program of "reforming the Greater Middle East." Two US policies are clashing head to head - the one is stabilizing Iraq and the other is the reform of the greater Middle East. President Bush is placing his democracy policy over his Iraq policy. This is costing American and Iraqi lives.


We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 03:32:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mr. Cheney and his allies have expressed unease

Yeah, I suppose if you think of a permanent state of war as utopia, a semblance of an attempt at diplomacy would make you feel a bit uneasy.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 06:37:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Occasional Series