[Marxism] Bush's Syrian Delusion,Deeper Into the Quagmire
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Tue Mar 8 18:03:25 MST 2005
"Bush's Syrian Delusion Deeper Into the Quagmire
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
Mow much longer can American prestige survive the embarrassments
inflicted by President Bush?
Bush's demand that Syria immediately withdraw its troops from Lebanon
is a ricochet demand. If Lebanon cannot have free elections while
under foreign military occupation, how, asks the rest of the world,
does Iraq have free elections when it is under US military occupation?
Bush's latest guffaw is the work of desperation. Every explanation and
justification Bush has given for his ill-fated invasion of Iraq has
proven false. There were no weapons of mass destruction. No terrorist
links to Osama bin Laden. No WMD programs. The penultimate
justification--to bring democracy to Iraq--fast faded when the Islamic
Shi'ite winners announced that Islam would be a basis for the new
The assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri
permitted the Bush administration to shift attention from its Iraq
failure to Syria's presence in Lebanon, just as the US invasion of
Iraq shifted attention from Bush's failure to capture bin Laden in
Bush hasn't sufficient troops to occupy Iraq and none to spare with
which to invade Syria. But the lack of means does not stop Bush from
issuing ultimatums. Bush's tough talk plays well to his
supernationalist supporters at home.
Syria, of course, has its own reasons for getting out of Lebanon, and
Syria's withdrawal lets Bush claim that his invasion of Iraq is
spreading democracy to Lebanon. Yesterday Iraq. Today Lebanon.
Tomorrow the Middle East.
This latest justification for invading Iraq was on no one's mind when
the US invaded Iraq. It is likely to be as short lived as the other
justifications. Throughout the Lebanese civil war from the mid 1970's
until 1990 Lebanon was a collection of armed camps more numerous than
those in Iraq today.
The Lebanese government invited the Syrians into Lebanon shortly after
the outbreak of the civil war. Unlike the US in Iraq, the Syrians have
managed to perform the role of peacekeeper in Lebanon without leveling
entire cities, destroying Lebanon's infrastructure, and killing tens
of thousands of civilians. (This is not to say that in 1982 the Syrian
government did not brutally put down an Islamic fundamentalist
uprising in the Syrian city of Hama.)
Syria has a secular Alawite government. Now that Shi'ites are taking
over in Iraq, Shi'ites in Lebanon--and especially the Iranian
sponsored and controlled Shi'ite Hizbullah movement--are likely to
gain additional political traction as well. Today, we are witnessing
the creation of precisely the Shi'ite geopolitical bloc--the "Shi'ite
crescent from Iran to Lebanon"--of which King Abdullah of Jordan
warned, without effect, a deluded President Bush.
Proud not to be "reality based," the Bush administration is oblivious
to the situation on the ground. But reality in Syria, Jordan and Saudi
Arabia is up close and personal. The last thing wanted by the rulers
of those countries, as well as the leaders of Egypt and Pakistan, is
more instability that will play into the hands of such Islamist
revolutionaries as Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al Zarqawi. But
instability is rising, and the rulers of those countries now fear
being swept away.
Syria had absolutely nothing to gain from the assassination of former
Lebanese prime Minister Hariri. In fact, the assassination was a
catastrophe for the Syrian government. It is Osama bin Laden's aim,
and perhaps Iran's, to destabilize Lebanon and Syria in order to draw
the US in deeper. Instability serves bin Laden's revolutionary
purposes and aids Iran by creating new problems for the US in the region.
Today, Syria has begun to withdraw from Lebanon not because of US and
Israeli ultimatums but because of the threat of a new axis of Shi'ite
power stretching from Teheran westward through southern Iraq into
Lebanon, and then back into Syria itself from both Lebanon and Iraq.
The secular Syrian government now sees far more danger from Iran and
Islamists supported by Teheran than it does from the US. It may well
be that Syria would like American protection from a rising Islamist
and Iranian geostrategic revolution. The Bush administration, however,
is too stupid to realize this.
The United States lacks the resources necessary to occupy the Middle
East. Bush has failed to occupy Baghdad, much less Iraq. Indeed, US
troops could not even occupy Fallujah, a small city of 300,000. Unable
to take control of the city, the Americans destroyed it. The US cannot
level every city in the Middle East.
The US invasion of Iraq has brought to power long-suppressed Shi'ite
majorities and shown Islamists that secular rulers can be overthrown.
Change has begun that the US cannot control, change that will exhaust
American resources and will.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the
Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street
Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He
is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at:
pcroberts at postmark.net
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