It's Not About Syria, Stupid (Think Iran and Russia, and...)
As information about the apparent Israeli strikes on targets inside Syria continues to pour in, it's easy to lose sight of the central fact: the two reported Israeli attacks are part of an ongoing war, the big war against the West. While the attacks were in Syria, the mission was primarily a major strike against Iran and Russia, two key components of the global alliance arrayed against us. Both are desperately trying to shore up the Assad regime in Damascus.
The fall of Assad would be a devastating blow to Supreme Leader Ali Khamanei's tyranny in Tehran, would gravely weaken Russia's strategic position in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, and would threaten the strength (and even the survival) of Hezbollah, the world's most dangerous terrorist organization and the creation of Iran's founding tyrant, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
The attacks apparently did great damage to Iranian missiles, and the vaunted Russian antiaircraft system provided to both Syria and Iran was unable to do anything to prevent them. Both have been humiliated.
The primary Israeli targets seem to have been Iranian missiles shipped from Iran to Syria, reportedly pending transfer to Hezbollah. They are capable of carrying chemical warheads, which may explain President Obama's quick support for Israel.
The attacks came after more than a month of diplomatic activity:
--On Thursday, April 25th, the United States announced that we had evidence that the Syrians had used chemical weapons. That announcement was not merely the result of internal American deliberations; it came after several meetings with allies following claims of chemical attacks from the Syrian opposition in late March.
--There were meetings in Amman, Jordan, on April 1st and 2nd, chaired by the head of Jordanian intelligence, Faisal al Shobaki. The meetings included representatives from the United States, Qatar, and Israel, whose experts provided information from drones and satellites.
--The Saudi foreign minister met with Secretary of State John Kerry on the 16th (the day after the Marathon massacre in Boston). It was a scheduled meeting, but the session was closed (after journalists had been told it would be open). The next day, President Obama met with the foreign minister in an unscheduled session.
--On Monday the 22nd, CIA director John Brennan received the emir of Qatar and his foreign minister at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
--On Tuesday the 23rd, General Itay Bron of Israeli military intelligence announced that Israel had proof of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
--On Wednesday the 24th and Thursday the 25th, there were further meetings in Washington to discuss the question, involving officials from France, Qatar, Great Britain, Canada, and the Czech Republic. The Czechs are world leaders in the field of chemical weapons intelligence, and their ambassador in Damascus, Eva Filipi, represents both the United States and Europe in the Syrian capital.
These discussions were undoubtedly about the "big picture" as well as the specific question of chemical weapons. I cannot imagine the Israelis not sharing their view of Iran's regional strategy, which they believe includes a contingency plan (named after Quds Force commander Qasem Suleimani) for the occupation of Syria if Assad were to lose control.
...Syria’s centrality in Iranian strategy was voiced by Mehdi Taaib, who heads Khamenei’s think tank. He recently stated that “Syria is the 35th district of Iran and it has greater strategic importance for Iran than Khuzestan [an Arab-populated district inside Iran].”
Iran's strategy includes domination of Iraq, which they could use as an operational base if Syria falls.
SIDEBAR: You may have noticed that casualties in Iraq are now running at roughly half those in Syria, as the Iranians apply the same methods they used unsuccessfully against us: foment civil war by the use of terror and religiously inspired mass movements.
BACK TO MAIN SERMON: The Israeli actions, assuming they took place more or less as described, were limited to a single battlefield of the big war, and were driven by the knowledge that Iran and its two foreign legions (Quds and Hezbollah) are preparing the destruction of the Jewish state, nukes or no nukes. Weapons move towards Israel from many directions in the region, including Sudan, and are sometimes permitted passage by the likes of Egypt and Turkey. Until and unless we show signs of recognizing the real dimensions of the menace, the weapons will continue to flow.
Just ask the king of Jordan. He knows that many of those "Syrian refugees" on his border are working with the jihadis, whether Sunni or Shi'ite. Our dribble of assistance to the Syrian opposition comes via Jordan (and it was no accident that the early meetings described above were held in Amman). Watch Jordan very carefully -- along with Iraq it's our enemies' main strategic target.
Alas, there is no reason to believe, even now, that our deep thinkers grasp the nature of the real war. The failing New York Times spent a considerable amount of space on Sunday trying to convince its gullible readers that Obama's celebrated "red line" proclamation regarding the potential consequences of Assad's use of chemical weapons wasn't serious. Why? Because "it wasn't scripted," he just said it.
Imagine that! An American president who makes up his own mind and announces his conclusions to the world. And now, his loyal followers are trying to walk it back, because everyone is asking Obama to make good on his ultimatum.
If his advisors were worth their keep, they'd be telling him to focus on the real issues. But no. One of them moaned, "If Assad drops sarin on his own people, what's that got to do with us?" So much for the Valkyrie doctrine--we will move forcefully to save people from their murderous regimes--that justified our Libyan intervention. No wonder Samantha Power scampered out of her National Security Council suite.
As the piteous fall of George H.W. Bush--from 90% approval to electoral defeat--should warn our leaders, failed visions and empty heads have consequences. People die. And not just Syrians and Iranians, who are being tortured and slaughtered by their own regimes. Americans die too. The beds at Walter Reed are filling up again, as the Taliban celebrate our retreat by blowing us up.
There is no escape from the big war. We can win it or lose it, but we can't opt out of it.