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Wednesday, February 23, 2005


daniel pipes and syria

reason points to neoconservative daniel pipes' musings on bashar assad's ascendancy to the syrian dictatorship as the reason syria is suddenly capable of blind stupidity and irrationality in all actions -- a blanket case for attributing all manner of evildoing to a nation that pipes and other neocons have ideologically sought to destroy for more than a decade.

i personally can't believe reason credits that bloodthirsty monster. it's like praising charles manson.

it is one thing to be a machiavellian -- it is another to need to see blood. pipes wants to see muslim blood spilled for his cause, and rationalizes a paranoid politics, including a speculative ubiquity of islamofascist terrorism and racist suspicion of all muslim arabs, from that starting point. there is no hardbitten civitas in that, no acknowledgement of the fluid dynamics of politics. he himself describes his views as "the simple politics of a truck driver". so the only valid views are those without complexity or nuance? has antiintellectualism made such inroads into the american psyche that this becomes credible?

what pipes says eminates from the central passion of needing arabs to die for their sins against the ideology of "freedom". as non-saint christopher hitchens notes, pipes has "relish" for death. he may be informed -- so was robespierre. what of it? he is mad. someone at a magazine named 'reason' has to acknowledge that.

regarding hariri's horrible assassination, whatever the actuality is, a realist must admit that the cui bono analysis -- unevidenced as it is -- leads to the neoconservatives. that does not mean that cui bono is a statement of fact. but the possibility must be countenanced.

as has been noted in many well-informed quarters, syria does not benefit in any way from this -- and it is contra to much assad has done recently to try to reconcile on some superficial level at least with the united states. assad knows that regime change is a risk. it would surely take a massive miscalculation on the syrian government's part -- a government that, even with a change of leadership, still retains much of the infrastructure that was responsible for what pipes calls "tactical genius" -- to put them behind this act.

israel too had seemingly little to gain. as josh landis noted:

“How can it be the Israelis? It doesn’t make sense for them to do it. They had everything going their way in Lebanon and they didn’t have to do a thing. America and France were doing all the heavy lifting for them. The Lebanese opposition was organizing against Syria in a way that Israel had failed to achieve in 1982. If the world discovered there was Israeli involvement it would be devastating for Sharon.”
however, the neoconservative view is that syria is the linchpin of the region and longterm key to securing israel's security. is it really coincidental that the plan articulated in 1996 by richard perle, douglas feith and others called for damascus to be secured through baghdad?

Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq -- an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right -- as a means of foiling Syria's regional ambitions. ... But Syria enters this conflict with potential weaknesses: Damascus is too preoccupied with dealing with the threatened new regional equation to permit distractions of the Lebanese flank.
i would agree that there is little realist advantage in what they've done -- but so was it for iraq. fanatical idealism is their commander. "reality-based" solutions are disdained.

i know a lot of folks don't want to hear that we might have done this thing. i'm sure cathy young would now label me a self-hating american. but cui bono is often a better analysis that occam's razor -- and this is a political cadre that adores machiavelli while perhaps misinterpreting his meaning and has neutered cia to hold the reins of intel and black ops. many have predicted that they would wield them recklessly. perhaps they just did.

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