I’m never sure what to make of things I read at Debka. Some of the time, it appears to be little more than rumor mongering. At other times, it’s been accurate. That said, this is interesting:
Richard Armitage performed his last major mission before stepping down… This mission took Armitage to Damascus with nine American demands:
1. Start repealing Syria’s 40-years old emergency laws.
2. Free all political prisoners from jail.
3. Abolish media censorship.
4. Initiate democratic reform.
5. Speed up economic development
6. Cut down relations with Iran.
7. Announce publicly that the disputed Shebaa Farms at the base of Mt. Hermon are former Syrian territory.
8. Hand over to US or Iraqi authorities 55 top officials and military officers of the former Saddam regime, who are confirmed by intelligence to be established in Syria and running the guerrilla war in Iraq out of their homes and offices.
Then Bush lays the big stick on the table:
9. Syria had better make sure that none of the Kornet AT-14 anti-tank missiles which it recently purchased in large quantities from East Europe turn up in Iraq. US intelligence has recorded their serial numbers to identify their source.
Just in case any are found in Iraq, General Casey, commander of US forces in Iraq has already received orders from the commander-in-chief in the White House to pursue military action inside Syria according to his best military judgment.
This is fascinating and probably necessary. Bashir Assad learned much from his father Hafez. Chief among the lessons learned at daddy’s knee was the value of a skillfully executed proxy war. The Syrians have been waging a proxy war against Israel, via hamas, for over 20 years. Of course, they’ve also occupied Lebanon for 30 years, but since they’re not Americans or Jews, the UN and EU don’t really seem to mind. Move along, nothing to see here.
Proxy wars have two chief advantages for the sponsor:
1. Plausible deniability.
A) You’re being attacked by guerrillas and terrorists? Why that’s terrible!
B) Where could they be getting those rockets and mines? We have no idea.
C) Where are they getting their funding? Swiss bank accounts? Got us.
2. It’s highly effective. For minimal cost, your opponent can be attacked relentlessly. Each attack may be, in itself, militarily insignificant. But it erodes morale and political support. Death by a thousand cuts.
Clearly this is the strategy, the proxy war, that the Syrian Ba’athists have pursued against the US in Iraq. Having pursued it virtually without cost against the Israelis for decades, it was natural the method would present itself as first choice to confront, hamstring and confound those damned Yankees next door. We’ll make their life a living hell, and if accused, we’ll dust off our halos and feign outrage that our unassailable moral character could be questioned. Perfect!
Except for one little flaw. One tiny little oversight in Bashir & Co.’s perfect plan. The US is not Israel. Whatever level of escalation the Syrians can threaten in Iraq pales – no, dwindles to nothing – in comparison to the punishment the US can inflict on Damascus and its surrounds in a single night of conventional high intensity bombing. A couple of weeks of it might just give them a whole new outlook on things.