Belmont Club

The exception and the rule

Calling Robert Malley. Calling Robert Malley. Time asks, “Was the U.S. Right About Syria Nukes?” The article begins with a ritual dismissal of “Bush” intelligence claims. “Given the Bush Administration’s track record, no one ought to have been surprised when much of the Middle East raised a skeptical eyebrow in response to Washington’s claim that the Syrian site bombed by Israeli warplanes in September of 2007 was part of a clandestine nuclear-weapons program.” But now Time grudgingly admits Bush may have been right. Why, because now the UN has confirmed American intelligence.

It turns out, however, that the Bush Administration may well have been right about the Syrian site. Diplomats from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told the press on Monday that the U.N. body’s inspectors found traces of uranium when they inspected the site in June. Apparently, the amounts weren’t large enough to make a definitive conclusion, but the IAEA is putting Syria — which has no publicly declared civilian nuclear program — on the formal agenda for its year-end meeting in late November. Diplomats at the IAEA say the Syrian government, which denies that it was trying to build nuclear weapons, has balked at the agency’s requests for wider inspections.” Time goes on to say that “the New York Times reported that the most recent raid was simply one of dozens that had been conducted on Syrian territory by U.S. special forces under secret orders signed by then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

While the world is still a dangerous and volatile place, it is interesting to ask how much more perilous it might be without some of the actions undertaken by the reviled GWB. It’s question for historians to answer. The press has spilled a lot of ink describing all the things George Bush has gotten wrong. But it is virtually certain that historians in the coming years will discover he has done some things right; even in the worst case a broken clock is right by accident at least twice a day. Time believes that confirmation of the Syrian program by UN sources would be a disappointment because “President Assad … had said peace in the Middle East was possible within two years, if only the U.S. would sponsor direct talks, and hopes were high that the incoming Obama Administration would do just that. ” They may do just that anyway.


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