October 9, 2003


Neo-con fingerprints on Syria raid (Jim Lobe, 10/08/03, Asia Times)

It was the neo-cons who in 1982 defended Israel's invasion of Lebanon and the bloody siege of Beirut that followed. While then-president Ronald Reagan went along with the original invasion, his administration never publicly endorsed it and eventually distanced itself from the Israelis as the siege wore on.

Bush's explicit embrace of Israel's attack on an alleged Palestinian training camp in Syria, on the other hand, is a striking departure from decades of US Middle Eastern diplomacy. Washington even denounced Israel's 1981 attack on the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq and, unlike the present, joined with other members of the UN Security Council in condemning it.

Indeed, Bush's statement on Monday that he had told Sharon that "Israel must not feel constrained defending the homeland" was almost breathtaking in its implied license, particularly considering that it was Sharon who not only led the invasion of Lebanon but is also widely believed to have rolled all the way to Beirut without Begin's approval. Many experts and historians believe that Begin was intending a more limited military action and that Sharon took the initiative to take it much further.

Reagan and Begin were wrong, weren't they? The Lebanon War should have ended in Damascus, particularly since Syria was at that point a Soviet client state. It might not have made the Middle East any less violent but certainly wouldn't have made it appreciably more so, and Lebanon would not have been dominated by the Assads for these two decades.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 9, 2003 10:57 AM

At least they got Osirak. We still owe Israel a deep debt for that.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at October 9, 2003 1:45 PM

There is a good essay here, which addresses the Lebanon invasion.

Posted by: Paul Cella at October 9, 2003 2:18 PM

I like Israel's map of Damascus. It's time for the chickens to go home to roost. Send in the raptors, one by one, until the message is clear.

Posted by: genecis at October 9, 2003 3:12 PM

I still maintain, an Israeli war on Syria funded descretly by the US, that results in the death of Assad, a good house-to-house terrorist search, and a new Palestinean state carved out of a corner of Syria (which they only get if they leave Arafat behind) make the world a much better place.

Posted by: MarkD at October 9, 2003 8:16 PM