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Invade Syria? Insane

Dan Simpson: Invade Syria? Insane
U.S. forces have started fighting Syrians at Iraq's border. Can anybody say 'Cambodia'?
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As I suspected six months ago, U.S. military and Bush administration civilian officials confirmed last week that U.S. forces have invaded Syria and engaged in combat with Syrian forces.

An unknown number of Syrians are acknowledged to have been killed; the number of Americans -- if any -- who have died in Syria so far has not yet been revealed by the U.S. sources, who by the way insist on remaining faceless and nameless.

The parallel with the Vietnam War, where a Nixon administration deeply involved in a losing war expanded the conflict -- fruitlessly in the event -- to neighboring Cambodia, is obvious. The end result was not changed in Vietnam; Cambodia itself was plunged into dangerous chaos, which climaxed in the killing fields, where an estimated 1 million Cambodians died as a result of internal conflict.

On the U.S. side, no declaration of war preceded the invasion of Syria, in spite of the requirements of the War Powers Act of 1973. There is no indication that the Congress was involved in the decision to go in. If members were briefed, none of them have chosen to share that important information with the American people. Presumably, the Bush administration's intention is simply to add any casualties of the Syrian conflict to those of the war in Iraq, which now stand at more than 1,970. The financial cost of expanding the war to Syria would also presumably be added to the cost of the Iraq war, now estimated at $201 billion.

The Bush administration would claim that it is expanding the war in Iraq into Syria to try to bring it to an end, the kind of screwy non-logic that kept us in Vietnam for a decade and cost 58,193 American lives in the end.

Others would see the attacks in Syria as a desperation political move on the part of an administration with its back against the wall, with a failed war, an economy plagued by inflation --1.2 percent in September, a 14.4 percent annual rate if it continues -- the weak response to Hurricane Katrina, grand jury and other investigatory attention to senior executive and legislative officials, and the bird flu flapping its wings toward us on the horizon. The idea, I suppose, is to distract us by an attack on Syria, now specifically targeted by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad.

There is some question as to how America's military leadership feels about fighting Syria too, given its already heavy commitment in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. At least some U.S. military officials must wish that President Bush and his associates would move away from his administration's "Johnny One Note," hand-it-to-the-military approach to its problems, now to include Hurricane Katrina-type disaster relief and the newest possible duty, dealing with a bird flu epidemic.

And then there is the tired old United Nations. An invasion by one sovereign member, the United States, of the territory of another sovereign member (Syria), requires U.N. Security Council action.

What of the regional impact in the Middle East? Some observers have argued that destabilizing Syria, creating chaos there, even bringing about regime change away from the current government of President Bashar Assad, is somehow to improve Israel's security posture in the region. The argument runs that Saddam Hussein's Iraq was the biggest regional threat to Israel; Bashar Assad's Syria is second. The United States got rid of Saddam; now it should get rid of the Assad regime in Damascus.

The trouble with that argument, whether it is made by Americans or Israelis, is that, in practice, it depends on the validity of the premise that chaos and civil war -- the disintegration of the state -- in Iraq and Syria are better for Israel in terms of long-term security than the perpetuation of stable, albeit nominally hostile regimes.

The evidence of what has happened in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in early 2003 is to the contrary. Could anyone argue that Israel is made safer by a burning conflict in Iraq that has now attracted Islamic extremist fighters from across the Middle East, Europe and Asia? Saddam Hussein's regime was bad, but this is a good deal worse, and looks endless.

Is there any advantage at all to the United States, or to Israel, in replicating Iraq in Syria?

For that is what is at stake. Syria in its political, ethnic and religious structure is very similar to Iraq. Iraq, prior to the U.S. bust-up, was ruled by a Sunni minority, with a Shiite majority and Kurdish and Christian minorities. Syria is ruled by an Alawite minority, with a Sunni majority and Kurdish and Christian minorities.

That is the structure, not unlike many states in the Middle East, that the Bush administration, by word and now by deed, in the form of U.S. forces fighting in Syria, is in the process of hacking away at.

It seems utterly crazy to me. One could say, "Interesting theory; let's play it out," if it weren't for the American men and women, not to mention the Iraqis and now Syrians, dying in pursuit of that policy.

What needs to be done now is for the Congress, and through them, the American people, and the United Nations and America's allies, the ones who are left, to have the opportunity to express their thoughts on America's expanding the Iraq war to Syria. A decision to invade Syria is not a decision for Mr. Bush, heading a beleaguered administration, to make for us on his own.

Dan Simpson, a retired U.S. ambassador, is a Post-Gazette associate editor (



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I was reading that Condi Rice won't rule out military strikes with Iran & Syria. Does not the president have to go to Congress before he can go to war against these countries? I know he did with Irag...with his lies...but what about Iran & Irag?...he can't just send our troops there....can he?....I put this on another site but thought I might get some answers from here. I know I sound naive but there has to be some way to stop all this!

Friend, I fear you are mistaking the current times for the days before the reign of King George and the maniacal neoconservatives along with the narrowly focused religious right. These people do whatever they want, and what they want is highly irrational. According to our attorney general the constitution is an outdated document and should be taken with a grain of salt. It will likely be replaced soon by a misinterpretation of parts of the Bible. Congress probably does still have the power to put a stop to it all, but they are either asleep at the wheel, shaking in their boots, or deeply embedded in the conspiracy to hijack America. Our president gets his orders directly from God through a dry-drunk haze (or perhaps not so dry, given the way he's been acting lately -- I've heard Laura has to go everywhere with him these days to keep him straight). We are quickly approaching a fascist police state where laws are handed down from the top without debate. We have the most dangerous military ever seen on the face of the planet with an obviously psychopathic civilian at the top. The masses have been lulled into a deep stupor and have been fed so much conficting or wrong information by a tightly controlled mock news media that they are severely confused over even the smallest of issues.

I truly wish I had better news to offer. If it all sounds faintly familiar, it's likey because this is almost exactly how the Nazi's gained power.

Knight Ridder Newspapers

(Quotes from the article)

WASHINGTON - House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Peter Hoekstra and Rep. Curt Weldon met secretly in Europe last week with an Iranian exile who CIA officials charge has passed worthless or bogus intelligence to the United States, current and former U.S. government officials said. The Paris meeting appears to be
the latest in a string of incidents in which players outside the intelligence community try to affect American foreign policy by highlighting threats that the CIA and other agencies find dubious.

Weldon, R-Pa., claims in a new book that the Iranian exile, whom he calls "Ali," told him of dramatic Iranian-sponsored terrorist plots against the United States. But the CIA says that it has wasted hundreds of hours checking the claims of Ali - whose real name is Fereidoun Mahdavi - and that they are a mix of fabrications and
embellishments of press reports, according to a letter from the CIA to Weldon.

Mahdavi is a longtime associate of Iranian arms merchant Manucher Ghorbanifar, the officials say. Ghorbanifar, a key figure in the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal, has had two CIA "burn notices" issued on him, meaning agency officers are not to deal with him.

The Senate Intelligence Committee also looked at the information provided via Mahdavi and deemed it unworthy of follow-up.

The controversy over Mahdavi, a former minister in the late shah of Iran's regime, is the latest chapter in the intelligence battles that have roiled the Bush administration.

Weldon, the No. 2 Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, and other critics accuse the CIA and other intelligence agencies of missing or ignoring dire threats to the United States.

Weldon's book, "Countdown to Terror," claims that Iran is planning a calamitous terrorist strike against the United States known as "the 12th Imam operation"; that it's close to having a nuclear weapon; and that al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden was or is hiding in Iran. But to intelligence professionals, the Mahdavi saga is another example
of bogus intelligence being forced into the system - much like Iraqi exiles' pre-war claims that Saddam was hiding weapons of mass destruction. They also see a hidden motive: the overthrow of the theocratic regime in Tehran.

~~"To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men" - Abraham Lincoln

The darkest moments of human history have always had silence on their side. (Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB March 24 2005)

Neocons can trade puppets
Iran does not need to be mentioned in a thousand words on Cindy Sheehan, but good old Dowd feeds the echo chamber on Iraq. Puppets can be sacrificed, but Israel and the US need to attack Iran.

THIS is the key point of the editorial....thanks for saving me
the time wasted on the restwake up.....Iran, here we cometoo bad she doesn't come here, or she'd be able to write an entire column on just what a load of phase II-Eternal War this latest bit of propaganda from the Cheney/Rumsfeld wing of the WH

Ms. Dowd, meet Juan Cole, why don't you?

Insidious is the word

(Maureen Dowd in a positive article on Cindy but almost subliminally mentions war with Iran, as if the US has always been at war with Oceania)

She slips this in as if it is fact that Iran is sending bombs to Iraq and sophisticated bombs at that. What is the definition of an unsophisticated bomb?

Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged yesterday that sophisticated bombs were streaming over the border from Iran to Iraq.

in·sid·i·ous (n-sd-s) adj.

1. Working or spreading harmfully in a subtle or stealthy manner: insidious rumor


"Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets." - Napoleon Bonaparte

"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality-judiciously, as you will-we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

A senior adviser to Bush, as quoted by RON SUSKIND.

If Fitz issues indictments, hang onto your hats, kiddies

Not that it really matters much in any practical sense, but of course they are "involved".

They are constitutionally responsible for all U.S. wars. But it's very clear that none of them care any more about their constitutional duties than they do about the international treaties and covenants that their congressional predecessors ratified in the name of the people of the United States of America.

In this case, Senator Chafee asked the following question: "Under the Iraq war resolution, we restricted any military action to Iraq. So would you agree that if anything were to occur on Syrian or Iranian soil, you would have to return to Congress to get that authorization?"

The answer received and apparently accepted was: "Senator, I don't want to try and circumscribe presidential war powers. And I think you'll understand fully that the President retains those powers in the war on terrorism and in the war on Iraq."

In other words, how dare any of them suggest that the imperial presidency might be subject to provisions of the U.S. constitution, or to any other such trivial constraints. As for the role of the American people (government of, by and for, and all that) well that's just a failed experiment relegated to the tomes of aincient history.

More here.

Sorry. That was an overstatement. I hope the few who do care will understand and forgive my intense rage and frustration with so many of their congressional colleagues.

Forget it...they won't dare do a thing. Now though Congressman Weldon, and others are more than aware of it......the important thing has just started.

Doug E.

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