Tangled webs

VIALstar-chem-weaponsIsn’t it an irony?

This is a short series of musing that I felt I had to get online before events prove me right – or wrong.

Have you noticed that the same people who loudly condemned American intervention in Iraq are now demanding that America intervene in Syria?

But that doesn’t stop them condemning Israel (in advance). How dare they respond to Syria’s threats, to attack with chemical weapons that Syria denies having, should America attack Syria. Add to that mix Russia threatening Saudi Arabia or is it Saudi Arabia threatening Russia. No wonder Israelis are rushing to pick up gas masks – something they should have done months ago.

The rush for gas masks has led to all sorts of karma remarks from the Israel Haters. Essentially Israel’s alleged oppression of Palestinians justifies an Iranian attack because America attacks Syria†.

Got that? Elder of Ziyyon has drawn you a chart.

Middle East Chart

Idiot’s Guide to the Middle East (chart) (updated)

chessWhat Gambit is Assad playing?

It’s about time I introduce a new term into the lexicon of political science: the Saddam Gambit.

I believe that Assad is trying to perform the same gambit that Saddam Hussein performed in the first Iraq war. Hussein attacked Israel with rockets, not a militarily necessary or even wise as Israel was not part of the coalition against him. The aim was to persuade the legendary Arab street that opposing Iraq was treason because he was the one fighting the Jews and so force the Muslim countries to abandon their symbolic but militarily irrelevant membership of the coalition against him.

It didn’t work.

The Arab states decided, even if for different reasons, where their interests lay – and it wasn’t with Saddam.

Syria’s attacking Israel, even by Hizbullah or even Iranian proxy, runs the risk that Israel will respond with a ferocity that will turn the balance against Syria. The Syrian rebels will continue the fight and may even assist Israel or any Western power that intervenes. At least until Assad is deposed. They will also decide where their interests lie.

(International) Law?

Less than a week ago one of the geniuses who I debate in Facebook groups informed me that Egypt hadn’t started the Six Day War. Closing the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping wasn’t an act of aggression because Israel had to know that Egypt wouldn’t be ready for war for at least a year. Clearly Nasser’s “Our basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight” should have been clear to everyone as just spouting off. In addition Israel should have asked the United Nations for permission!

Another genius told me that Jews are obliged by their religion to be slaughtered like sheep!

Ironically I expect many countries would be pleased at an Israeli intervention. It gives them a chance of plausible hypocrisy and reduces the chance of revenge – against themselves. This doesn’t mean that they won’t condemn Israel for breaching that much abused concept, International Law.

Worth bringing the history up for similarity with the current Syrian crisis. Russia, definitely and China, almost certainly would vote in the UN Security Council against military intervention. Which leads to Obama’s dilemma.

Obama dilemma (solved)

I wrote on Thursday but didn’t publish, expecting nothing to have changed from the weekend I took off for my wedding anniversary. President Obama took my advice before I even offered it! So with a slight nip and tuck I’ll repeat:

If you listen to the America Haters America can’t wait to enter another war. It’s what they do.  The irony (I seem to be using that word too much) is that the President of  the United States found the perfect way to avoid the decision to intervene in Syria. He fell back on the Law and the Constitution.

America is neither under imminent nor actual attack. There is no way to predict that troops would be out in sixty days or how many would be eventually required.

In short, throw the decision back on Congress.

Obama would have some difficulty with this after Libya, of course. However, he’s a clever man and would find some way to spin it. Or perhaps he won’t have to. He’s doing the right or at least the legal thing now. Who wants to rock the boat by dwelling on past inconsistencies.

Wouldn’t that be something? America goes to war and the rationale, aims and objectives would actually be debated!

That might be the most important thing to come out of the Obama presidency.


Assad photograph by Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom / ABr from Wikimedia Commons
† As so often the United States serves as a synecdoche for the West. France and the United Kingdom are as likely candidates to launch some cruise missiles at Syria as is America. Or should I keep with the pattern and write at Damascus as is Washington?

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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