The Israeli attack on Syria last week confirms the observations I made in my post on Syria in August; namely that: 1) the US has assured Israel in advance that, whatever transpires from the US-backed rebellion, Israel will get the net benefit of a weakened Syrian state, open to at-will Israeli incursion; 2) for both Israel and the US, the object of this game is to utterly destroy the Syrian state, to make it disappear as a military and political force in the region; and 3) "chemical weapons" were introduced into the narrative as a flimsy excuse for military attacks by the US or Israel whose actual objective will be to destroy, tout court, the Syrian state's military capability, and its ability to provide any significant resistance to future Israeli attacks or any significant material support to other targets of Israeli aggression -- like Iran, Hezbollah, or any other Palestinian resistance groups.
I also noted Israeli Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon's reported gleeful prediction of "Syria's fragmentation into provinces," adding that "Lebanon will suffer the same fate in the future," and his understanding that "the Arab world is passing through a phase that will restore it back to the way it was before World War I [ruling] out the possibility of the emergence of an Arab alliance that would stand in opposition to Israel in the next 10 to 15 years."
Thus, the Israeli attack on Syria, which had nothing to do with chemical weapons, and was maybe about preventing anti-aircraft weapons from being transported to Hezbollah (except it wasn't), and which was an attack on a convoy headed to Lebanon with said weapons (except it was really an attack on a research center near Damascus), and, oh yeah, was actually an attack on multiple targets, the first of many such attacks to come, have all been greenlighted in advance by the United States.1 It's always amusing to read the New York Times reporters trying to turn a complex, shifting pack of lies into a coherent justification for Israeli aggression.
It's always infuriating to see the American media, enmeshed in a pack of lies, completely ignoring the fact that this Israeli attack is a blatant, criminal act of aggression, a flagrant violation of every notion of international legality from the Treaty of Westphalia to the Nuremberg Trials. Of course, these journalists assume and re-confirm the new normality in which Serious people don't really expect the United States or Israel to have any respect for national sovereignty or international law.
A little bit of truth leaks through from all the staunchly pro-Israel "experts" the NY Times calls on, like the former intelligence official -- now with WINEP, of course -- who says: "Israel is able to fly reconnaissance flights over Lebanon with impunity right now. This could cut into its ability to conduct aerial intelligence. The passing along of weapons to Hezbollah by the regime is a real concern." There's the point: Israel now can recon (and bomb the crap out of!; he knows very well what he's not saying) the supposedly sovereign state of Lebanon at will. Israel must have the ability to surveil and attack any nation it wants with impunity. It can do so with Lebanon; it has now demonstrated that it can do so with Syria in its weakened state; and it will make sure it continues to pound Syria and weaken it even more, so that it will have complete impunity to attack it whenever it damn well wants to in the future.
Despite the diversionary baloney about Hezbollah (see footnote 1), this is about Syria. Despite all the hogwash about "chemical" weapons and WMDs, Syria -- like Lebanon and the next target, Iran -- cannot anymore even be allowed to have any kind of effective conventional military power, or any kind of effective military defense; it is Syria that cannot be allowed to have advanced anti-aircraft system; it is the entire apparatus of the Syrian military that is the target. Syria, like all other countries in the region, must be laid open to the always righteous blows of what the Israeli and American governments insist must be recognized as the Jewish state.
Israel must have that kind of military impunity with all states in the region. That is what's behind the hysteria about Syria and Iran. Israel must have that impunity, must have the Arab (and Persians and Turks) beaten back into pre-World War I fragmentation and weakness, because the Zionist state has lost all pretense of legitimacy, and cannot survive as the apartheid state it is and wishes even more blatantly to be,2 unless it has the ability to beat all its neighbors into submission. For all its military might, for all its ability to fend off attacks from any combination of its neighbors, Israel is that politically fragile. It knows that even the absolute political impunity now so sanctimoniously granted it by the US and Europe cannot be relied upon. It needs absolute military impunity for aggressive action. Which it can only have with American approval. Which it has.
Following on the mighty adventures in Iraq and Libya, the hijacking of Syrian rebellion against the Assad regime by the nefarious nexus of the US/NATO, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and their paid jihadi brigades has allowed Israel to imagine that it is on the verge of realizing the vision expressed by Ayalon above -- the culmination of visions advanced by such documents as "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm," Richard Perle, et. al.'s 1996 report to incoming Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and "The Zionist Plan for the Middle East," published in 1982 by the World Zionist Organization. Of the latter, the Association of Arab-American University Graduates pointed out that it: "[O]perates on two essential premises. To survive, Israel must 1) become an imperial regional power, and 2) must effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states. Consequently, the Zionist hope is that sectarian-based states become Israel's satellites and, ironically, its source of moral legitimation." Thirty years. Same script.
That last bit about "its source of moral legitimation" is particularly important. At this point -- after Iraq, after Benghazi, after the vicious Aleppo bombings (including, most probably, the university3) -- everybody knows what's coming: "'Syria . . . will be an Islamic and Sharia state,'" said [al-Nusra fighter] Khattab, who has little knowledge of Arabic but fought in Afghanistan. "We will not accept anything else. Democracy and secularism are completely rejected,' " he warned anyone who might stand in the way. "We will fight them,' he said, "even if they are among the revolutionaries.'" Syria will be a divided, violent, and chaotic country, at war with itself, a danger to everyone, and with a lot of anger directed at Israel and the United States. And that is not a mistake. It is the point. Creating new enemies is the point. Perpetual war is necessary for Israel and for the United States (for different but complementary reasons), and raging jihadi violence will give a veneer of "moral legitimation" to their perpetual warfare. Both counties think they can manage that. And why should they not? They are excellent at blowing stuff up. Who's going to stop them? Who's going to force a change of course? American leaders or voters, conservative or liberal? War-mongering Bill O'Reilly? Peace-loving Rachel Maddow? No sign of any resistance there.
To put the "moral legitimacy" issue another way: If Israel and the US didn't have the jihadis to attack, they would have to invent them. And guess what? In Syria, that's exactly what the US did (with the help of the Gulf monarchies).
In this context, the US Secretary of Defense deserves nothing but derision when he says that "the US was prepared to carry out similar airstrikes" and that "the United States supports whatever steps are taken to make sure these weapons don't fall into the hands of terrorists." Now that we and our allies have sent brigades of hired jihadi fanatics to engage in deadly warfare against the Syrian state, we (and our Israeli comrades) just have to attack and destroy the Syrian armed forces -- in order to protect ourselves from those same crazy jihadis. And our Israeli comrades are just going to have to, "for years," occupy a whole new swath of Syrian territory.3 (The Golan Heights? Fugetaboutit.)
It is also quite astounding to hear the foreign minister of Turkey blast Syria for not responding forcefully enough to the Israeli attacks, going so far as too ask, accusingly. "Is there a secret agreement between Assad and Israel?" This, from the country who has been the eager agent of the US/NATO-Qatari-Saudi-jihadi onslaught that has opened Syria up to Israeli aggression. I don't know what Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia think they are doing with their proxy war in Syria (besides opportunistically taking out the secular Arab nationalist alternatives), but one thing they certainly will accomplish -- as this Israeli attack shows -- is the dissolution of the frontline Arab states, the weakening of the Arab resistance, and the exacerbation of Israeli military hegemony and blatant aggressiveness in the region. It is these countries who have an obvious, if unstated (and, they might claim, temporary) convergence of interests with Israel, which has just struck a blow against the Syrian state for them. Do they think the people of the region don't see this?
If the conservative monarchies think they'll be safe from all the chaos produced, wait until they see what happens in Israel's other neighbor, Jordan. As Syria has become the new Libya, Jordan is lined up to be the next Mali. Let's see what happens, for example, when the Jordanian jihadi who is now president of the security committee in the Syrian town of Saraqi comes home. Jordanian intelligence already fears that "these youths will return like the 'Afghan Arabs' did. They fear they would come back one day and declare jihad and fight here." And they are right. But not to worry: the IDF will be there to offer their neighborly help. And to insure Israel's security, of course. Maybe another swath of territory to protect against mortars and missiles? Or even dump off a few more Palestinians?
There is a tangled web of problems in the Middle East and the Muslim world, a lot of which have roots in political, cultural, and religious factors that were not invented by Israel or the United States. Americans are not shy about identifying, criticizing, analyzing, and -- when they think it's appropriate -- denouncing them. What Americans are loathe -- indeed, afraid -- to do is even name, let alone analyze or criticize, the problem that, in this context, is of crucial importance: Zionism. Yet we are, in fact, becoming more and more totally enmeshed in it. Israeli aggressions of a kind that were denounced by Ronald Reagan now get nothing but praise from everyone in the political and media castes. And because the American political and media regimes of this powerful nation are so totally and uncritically enamored of Zionism, and absolutely refuse to talk about it, they are dragging the American people, and every nation they influence, into Zionism's drive for absolute regional hegemony. The conflict in Syria did not start out to be about Zionism, but it has become undeniably intertwined with Israel's increasingly desperate battles to guarantee Zionism's eternal future by force.
These battles are becoming increasingly desperate and forceful because, at this point, despite the stubborn, three-monkey pose of the American media, too many people in America and the world understand, with Ben Ehrenreich, that: "it is no longer possible to believe with an honest conscience that the deplorable conditions in which Palestinians live and die in Gaza and the West Bank come as the result of specific policies, leaders or parties on either side of the impasse. The problem is fundamental: Founding a modern state on a single ethnic or religious identity in a territory that is ethnically and religiously diverse leads inexorably either to politics of exclusion or to wholesale ethnic cleansing. Put simply, the problem is Zionism." Until and unless a lot more Americans become unafraid to notice and acknowledge that "Opposing Zionism is neither anti-Semitic nor particularly radical. It requires only that we take our own values seriously," our every action in the Middle East and the Muslim world will continue to be enmeshed in conflict-producing policies that are dangerous in the extreme, as well as contrary to the most fundamental progressive values.