October 28, 2003


Cheney's new adviser has sights on Syria (Jim Lobe, 10/21/03, Asia Times)

A neo-conservative strategist who has long called for the United States and Israel to work together to "roll back" the Ba'ath-led government in Syria, has been quietly appointed as a Middle East adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney.

David Wurmser, who had been working for the undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, John Bolton, joined Cheney's staff under its powerful national security director, I Lewis "Scooter" Libby, in mid-September, according to Cheney's office. [...]

For the latter part of the decade, he wrote frequently to support a joint US-Israeli effort to undermine then president Hafez Assad, in hopes of destroying Ba'ath rule and hastening the creation of a new order in the Levant to be dominated by "tribal, familial and clan unions under limited governments".

Indeed, it was precisely because of the strategic importance of the Levant that Wurmser advocated overthrowing Saddam Hussein in favor of an Iraqi National Congress (INC) closely tied to the Hashemite monarchy in Jordan.
"Whoever inherits Iraq dominates the entire Levant strategically," he wrote in one 1996 paper for the Jerusalem-based Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS).

Wurmser, whose Israeli-born spouse Meyrav Wurmser heads Middle East studies at the neo-conservative Hudson Institute, was the main author of a 1996 report by a task force convened by the IASPS and headed by Perle, called the Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000. The paper, called "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm", was directed to incoming Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It featured a series of recommendations designed to end the process of Israel trading "land for peace" by transforming the "balance of power" in the Middle East in favor of an axis consisting of Israel, Turkey and Jordan.

To do so, it called for ousting Saddam and installing a Hashemite leader in Baghdad. From that point, the strategy would be largely focused on Syria and, at the least, to reducing its influence in Lebanon.

Among other steps, the report called for Israeli sponsorship of attacks on Syrian territory by "Israeli proxy forces" based in Lebanon and "striking Syrian military targets in Lebanon, and should that prove insufficient, striking at select targets in Syria proper".

"Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, even rolling back Syria," the report argued, to create a "natural axis" between Israel, Jordan, a Hashemite Iraq and Turkey that "would squeeze and detach Syria from the Saudi Peninsula". "For Syria, this could be the prelude to a redrawing of the map of the Middle East, which could threaten Syria's territorial integrity," it suggested.

One nice thing about taking down Syria is that it would establish that Ba'athism is a sufficient cause for regime change, never mind WMD.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 28, 2003 5:28 AM

Whether the US moves against Syria or not, there are lots of throats in the Bekaa Valley just waiting to be cut. Even Richard Armitage has said so.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 28, 2003 11:12 AM

First good news I have had all day.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 28, 2003 1:34 PM

There's also this from the New York Times: Official suggests Iraq hid weapons in Syria.

Not a new story -- reports of Iraqi weapons being smuggled and burid there have beeb circulating since April -- but given the tone and the frequency of recent official announcements, it sounds like the administration is giving Syria a "clean up your act or else" message in reponse to the recent series of Baghdad area attacks.

Posted by: John at October 28, 2003 7:59 PM

Getting us into a second quagmire, this time in Syria, would doom Bush.

Posted by: Steve Sailer at October 29, 2003 5:57 PM


That assumes that there's a FIRST quagmire.

Further, Syria's a second term challenge, as is North Korea.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 30, 2003 10:22 PM