October 31, 2008
Syria: Then why should we care ...
Petraeus said the flow of foreign fighters from Syria to Sunni insurgent groups including al Qaeda in Iraq has declined to 10-20 people a month from a height of 160.
Petraeus sees increasingly durable gains in Iraq , Reuters, Oct 7
The helicopter-borne attack into Syria was by far the boldest by American commandos in the five years since the United States invaded Iraq and began to condemn Syria's role in stoking the Iraqi insurgency.
The timing was startling, not least because American officials praised Syria in recent months for its efforts to halt traffic across the border.
U.S. says Iraqi militant killed in Syria raid, IHT, Oct. 28
Thousands of Syrians have taken to the streets of the capital Damascus to protest against a US raid which killed eight people near the border with Iraq.
Syria has demanded a formal apology for the raid and has threatened to cut off co-operation over border security if there is any repeat of the incident.
Syrians march in protest at US raid, Al Jazeera, Oct. 30
A private Syrian television station also reported that Damascus was reducing the number of troops on its border with Iraq in response to the "American aggression." The station, Dunia, showed footage of what appeared to be Syrian troops dismantling positions on the Iraqi border and leaving the area.
TV Station Reports Damascus Pulling Troops From Iraq Border In Response To "American Aggression", CBSnews, Oct 31
If confirmed, that is a smart move in my view. If the result of any effort to accommodate the U.S. is only to get bombed, why should Syria bother at all about who goes from Syria to Iraq?
Posted by b on October 31, 2008 at 12:35 AM | Permalink
War is like coitus, once you start it is very difficult to stop.
Posted by: jlcg | Oct 31, 2008 4:57:14 AM | 1
I saw an item by a serious analyst a few days ago. He said source told him that Bush in July gave the Pentagon permission to strike targets of opportunity anywhere in the world without his permission -- except targets in Iran, which supposedly has the power to retaliate in the Western Hemisphere. According to this fellow's sources, Bush has just two months left in his tenure and doesn't give a rat's ass if something he does happens to start a war. A war, moreover, he figures would be a good thing to hand off on the next president. This is not surprising, after all: Bush 41 did the same thing in Somalia -- In his lame-duck period he got U.S. troops involved in a shooting war in Africa and then dumped the whole thing in Clinton's lap. Notice, too, how -- when 'Blackhawk' went down and all those boys got killed, the American Right (and the press) blamed Clinton for the fiasco. I've never understood why, when he took office, Clinton didn't yank all the Yanks out of Somalia as his first official act.
Posted by: Jimmy Montague | Oct 31, 2008 5:38:58 AM | 2
Syrian ambassador in Washington Imad Mustafa told the Syrian semi-official Al-Watan that the American administration is “shocked” by the Syrian reaction and the administration is still searching for more convincing reason for the raid.
Posted by: annie | Oct 31, 2008 7:32:10 AM | 3
Clinton could hardly pull our boys out of anywhere. The whole planet is America's turf. You pull back in one spot, people get the idea you don't have it in you anymore.
Can you imagine the Gambino family putting the word out that they can't handle the action? That it's all gotten too rich for their blood, and they're going to restrict their activities to Long Island?
Neither will President Obama. Pulling soldiers off America's turf is not in the job description.
Posted by: Antifa | Oct 31, 2008 9:54:40 AM | 4
@2 & @4,
you would agree perhaps that these are the last throes of the Bush-insurgency
Posted by: jony_b_cool | Oct 31, 2008 10:23:36 AM | 5
Antifa is onto something here, which explains why too many empires end up overreaching, and eventually collapse. The trick is to limit as most as possible military adventurism when it's not necessary, and to avoid places which would cost far more than their addition to the imperium would benefit. Though when you act like the only power on the planet, it's far trickier than for the empires of old; you can't claim to rule everything and leave the less useful and poorest bits to rot without paying any notice - sooner or later, you'll asume they should be under your influence, and bad things happen.
Posted by: CluelessJoe | Oct 31, 2008 10:41:35 AM | 6
Why should Syria bother at all about who goes from Syria to Iraq?
In theory, Syria has to care because in the long run Syria is far more threatened by Islamic militants than is the US. However, inspite of that, the Pakistan-Syria comparison is fascinating.
The US is, of course, using the same tactics against Syria as it is using against Pakistan. This makes sense, and is completely in line with the Bush Doctrine, so we should expect. However, Syria is threatening to adopt the same defense that Pakistan has used for decades.
The tribal areas in Pakistan intentionally left uncontrolled and underdeveloped. This provides both a low-cost buffer on the northern border and a haven if folks ever need to flees southern Pakistan (say, from the invasion of a much larger neighbor).
Syria is threatening the same: remove troops from eastern Syria and allow it to become a haven. This will allow the Islamic militants to protect Syria by acting as a buffer against US power. At the same time, it might deter a southern neighbor from attacking, since this groundwork of guerilla war is already laid.
In Pakistan, with it's Islamic ideology, the strategy has worked to some extent. I'm not clear that it could ever work in Baathist Syria, or if it just guarantees a collapse of the regime. But it is nonetheless a fascinating threat for Syria to make.
Posted by: Bill | Oct 31, 2008 10:50:08 AM | 7
This is somewhat OT, but not completely so:
After an extended period of inactivity, R. Chichakli's website has been updated and stream-lined. One quote worthy of note from that site (my interpolations in brackets):
The US government offered Richard [Chichakli] an immunity and full repatriation if he agreed to do certain actions for the Bush administration. Richard refused the offer on the ground that the acts he was asked to perform were immoral, dishonest, and illegal under the US and the international laws. Richard threatened to bring the matter public if he was not relieved [of the OFAC confiscation action against him].
It is not completely off topic, in view of ">http://www.chichakli.com/chronicle.htm"> this chronicle regarding Syria and its relations with the U.S.
This update complements the recent activity on the Victor Bout site which I mentioned yesterday, and is a welcome development for those seeking to learn about the Bout-Chichakli case from one of the principals.
Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Oct 31, 2008 11:37:06 AM | 8
These summary statements are good posts, b. Reminds me a bit of literary method put to excellent use by that other B guy. :)
Posted by: jdmckay | Oct 31, 2008 4:28:59 PM | 9
Syria is threatening the same: remove troops from eastern Syria and allow it to become a haven....it is nonetheless a fascinating threat for Syria to make.
we invade syria and accuse them of threatening us? that's a stretch. is this part of the neocon version of bush/cheney expanding our definition of defense?
Posted by: | Oct 31, 2008 6:53:08 PM | 10