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Tuesday, October 18, 2005


cambodia the model

via reason, neocon journalist michael young cites a new york times piece.

The broadening military effort along the border has intensified as the Iraqi constitutional referendum scheduled for Saturday approaches, and as frustration mounts in the Bush administration and among senior American commanders over their inability to prevent foreign radical Islamists from engaging in suicide bombings and other deadly terrorist acts inside Iraq.

Increasingly, officials say, Syria is to the Iraq war what Cambodia was in the Vietnam War: a sanctuary for fighters, money and supplies to flow over the border and, ultimately, a place for a shadow struggle.

Covert military operations are among the most closely held of secrets, and planning for them is extremely delicate politically as well, so none of those who discussed the subject would allow themselves to be identified. They included military officers, civilian officials and people who are otherwise actively involved in military operations or have close ties to Special Operations forces.

In the summer firefight, several Syrian soldiers were killed, leading to a protest from the Syrian government to the United States Embassy in Damascus, according to American and Syrian officials.

A military official who spoke with some of the Rangers who took part in the incident said they had described it as an intense firefight, although it could not be learned whether there had been any American casualties. Nor could the exact location of the clash, along the porous and poorly marked border, be learned.

In a meeting at the White House on Oct. 1, senior aides to Mr. Bush considered a variety of options for further actions against Syria, apparently including special operations along with other methods for putting pressure on Mr. Assad in coming weeks.

American officials say Mr. Bush has not yet signed off on a specific strategy and has no current plan to try to oust Mr. Assad, partly for fear of who might take over. The United States is not planning large-scale military operations inside Syria and the president has not authorized any covert action programs to topple the Assad government, several officials said.

"There is no finding on Syria," said one senior official, using the term for presidential approval of a covert action program.
as was noted here last week, the analogy to of iraq and syria to vietnam and cambodia is, on many important (but not all) levels, very real -- and the administration knows it. where we fought ostensibly for a hubristic and false rationalization of events in domino theory then, we fight for a contrived, amoral and misguided empire of liberty now -- a mere extension of the same hubristic american empire building which has run from manifest destiny onward through vietnam to today -- a symptom of the western decline that has been ongoing for all of american history and has accelerated in scope and brashness in the aftermath of the downfall of its primary imperial rival. (indeed, it seems that even domino theory isn't dead as long as it serves to frighten american voters into uncritical obsequity to imperial ascendancy.) so it is wrong in a sense to call what we are engaged in a new cold war, as many american imperialists do, when it is really only the final stage of the old one -- a third punic war -- sowing salt into the fields of carthage as we rise to take the prizes of unfettered ambition in places like iraq and syria as rome did in iberia and north africa.

young is too hopeful in assessing the possible outcome of a following an example which even he acknowledges to be malignant.

One reason the North Vietnamese weren't disturbed, but the Cambodians were, is that as American and South Vietnamese forces invaded Cambodia in April 1970, the North Vietnamese simply moved westwards, deeper into Cambodian territory. Such a scenario wouldn't hold in Syria, not least because the insurgents entering Iraq from Syria are not a conventional military force.
but i think he incorrectly presupposes that such an insurgency can be cornered by removing the syrian government as a source of support. the falsehood of this should be obvious -- young, in typical postmodern style, manages the symptoms without the creative insight to address the root cause, which lies not without but within. such insurgency as we now face in and beyond iraq across the third world -- indeed, the barbarians on our frontiers -- are not limited by resources or boundaries or hardship, as toynbee noted in his famous study of external proletariats. they are driven by a deep grievance with centuries of western manipulation and abuse. they move freely, as has been seen and similarly to the examples of history, and hide effectively beyond the reach of our armies and technologies -- and too often using both against us. having lived in deprivation, often at the doing of western hands, for generations, they have little to lose and everything to gain. knocking away an small element of mere fiscal support here and there -- indeed, even a military conquest of the entire mideast, if it could be achieved -- will be shown not only to be totally inadequate in ending the assault from without but fuel for the fire that burns within the abused enemies of our vulgarizing society.

as such, expanding the war further will serve primarily to expand, not limit, the potential field of violent action for the global anti-western insurgency, as this page argued was also the case when the united states invaded iraq. iraq has since actually become the playground of disparate but growing antiwestern forces in a way that only the most odious constructions of neoconservative propaganda asserted it had been as a rationalization of a long-desired invasion in 2003. a similar fate would almost certainly loom over syria should american armies yet again cross borders.

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