Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The War Stops At the Holy Land's Edge

It is....curious how the Bush Administration so tightly compartmentalizes the War Against Islamic Fundamentalism. I've lamented on many an occasion how the White House has drawn a line in stone at the borders of Iraq and Afghanistan as far as military operations go, and beyond those theaters only "diplomacy" and "restraint" are permitted as tools of statecraft and national interest. Thus our two principle regional enemies - Iran and Syria - without whose defeat the war cannot be won are left in power, unmolested, much as Saddam Hussein was for over a decade.

But nowhere does this creeping Arabism have greater traction than on our policy towards Israel - which, when you look at it honestly, has been the center of the "war on terror" for a helluva lot longer than we've been engaged in it.

When, that is, we will let them fight it at all:
Israeli commandos seized nuclear material of North Korean origin during a daring raid on a secret military site in Syria before Israel bombed it this month, according to informed sources in Washington and Jerusalem.

The attack was launched with American approval on September 6 after Washington was shown evidence the material was nuclear related, the well-placed sources say.

They confirmed that samples taken from Syria for testing had been identified as North Korean. This raised fears that Syria might have joined North Korea and Iran in seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.

Israeli special forces had been gathering intelligence for several months in Syria, according to Israeli sources. They located the nuclear material at a compound near Dayr az-Zwar in the north. [emphasis added]
Now when the Times of London says the IAF strike into Syria was "launched with American approval," they're not saying that we support what the Israelis did, or we were cheering them on, or we were offering them a round of applause; they mean Jerusalem had to get George Bush's permission to defend themselves:
Israel sought American approval for the bombing of the compound, but the Bush Administration required solid proof before giving it. The Israelis brought information showing North Korean personnel staffing the facility, but Bush insisted that the Israelis had to prove that the facility was developing WMD. The raid took the nuclear material out of the compound, and only on September 6th - after testing had shown that the Israelis were correct - did they get American approval.

This gives us some interesting secondary information. First, despite its reputation, the Bush White House does not shoot first and ask questions later. Bush did not easily support this mission, even though Syria has conducted assassinations in Lebanon and supplies terrorists in Iraq. The Administration wanted hard, incontrovertible proof before supporting an attack on Syria. And the Israelis waited to get it before bombing the compound, risking their intel operatives in a very dangerous burglary rather than acting unilaterally. [emphases added]
Does it sound to you like the Bushies are imposing their gun-shyness about WMD on a dependent ally that cannot afford to wallow in such hypercaution? Whatever happened to, "We will not wait while the storm clouds of war gather" (or something like that)? Remember when John Kerry suggested during the 2004 campaign that we, in essence, seek a "permission slip" from the UN before we defend ourselves? I seem to recall that idea was hooted and jeered down quite roundly. So why is the Bush Administration, of all entities, forcing that very same stricture upon Israel?

On the other hand, given that Ehud Olmert is still running that country, and given his regime's lame performance in the war against Hezbollah in Lebanon last year, maybe the White House doesn't trust the Jewish state's military judgment like it used to.

Still, I find this roaring squeamishness to be extremely distressing, and its imposition upon the Jews outrageous. If we will now not take any military action absent "incontrovertible proof" of provocation - which, by the way, we have a scads regarding Iran's proxy war against us in Iraq - we guarantee the inevitability of a nuclear Pearl Harbor, or an equivalent 9/11. I guess now we will "let the world's most dangerous regimes acquire the world's most dangerous weapons" - and so will all our allies, whether they want to die with us or not.

Israel still exists today precisely because they didn't follow this advice in 1948, 1967, and 1981, when they bombed Saddam's Osirik nuclear reactor, the strike to which the one on Dayr az-Zwar is being inaccurately compared. If they've got to ask our permission to act for their own national self-preservation, how much doo-doo are they going to be in after Mrs. Clinton takes over?

Or is it only a matter of degree?:
The United States intends to invite Saudi Arabia, Syria and other Arab countries that do not have relations with Israel to a Middle East peace conference that will be held in the United States this fall, a senior State Department official said Sunday.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, noting that invitations have not yet been issued, seemed to put some conditions on attendance later Sunday. "Coming to this meeting also brings certain responsibilities," which includes renouncing violence and supporting the right of both Israel and Palestine to exist, she said.

Rice spoke after a whirlwind of meetings here with top Arab officials and members of an international peace coordinating body known as the Quartet. The Quartet, which includes the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, met with its representative for building Palestinian institutions, former British prime minister Tony Blair, and issued a statement saying that it expects the Middle East conference to "affirm its support for the two-state solution based on a rejection of violence."

The announcement of the invitation list raises the stakes for a meeting that President Bush announced over the summer. The Administration had been coy about who might be invited, though officials privately made clear they hoped the Saudis would attend because Riyadh, unlike Jordan and Egypt, does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.
As God is my witness, I will never understand how the words "middle," "east," and "peace" can ever be uttered in the same sentence. It's like the Munich Conference of September 1938 put on perpetual replay, a corrosive loop running endlessly while the whole rattle-trap contraption totters in the opposite direction. They've tried "peace processes" and "Oslos" and "roadmaps" and "two-state solutions". Then this mental illness spread to the Israelis themselves, who succumbed to the bright idea that retreating, coughing up whole chunks of critical real estate, and abandoning them to the likes of Hamas, would be a strategic masterstroke.

And what has been the result? Two intifadas, wave after wave of terrorism, a torrent of rocket and missile bombardment, and Islamist encirclement, including within Israel's own far-too-slender boundaries.

So what is the Bush Administration's next gambit in this theater of the war? Invite Syria to a "peace" conference. The same Syria that was hosting North Korean-supplied Iranian nuclear assets in a "forward deployment" on their territory, prompting an Israeli "response" that this White House only barely, and grudgingly, permitted.

I guess they would have invited Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, too, but for the fact that his country is not "Arab" and he's already lining up other American speaking gigs.