T Nation

Who Killed Hariri?

My money would be on the Syrians, given their involvement in Lebanon and the fact that Hariri was recently speaking out a lot against that involvement. I think we just announced we were pulling our Ambassador out of Syria too, which seems to indicate the Bush Administration thinks so too.

http://belmontclub.blogspot.com/2005/02/who-killed-rafiq-hariri-nobody-knows.html

The Belmont Club rounds up some of the competing theories:

Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Who Killed Rafiq Hariri?

Nobody knows yet. But here’s a roundup of plausible speculation. Larry Johnson at the Counterterrorism Blog thinks it is Syria ( http://counterterror.typepad.com/the_counterterrorism_blog/2005/02/likely_culprits.html ).

[i]Today's bomb blast in Lebanon, which killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, is a harbinger that a peaceful, democratic transition of Governments in the Middle East is a foolish pipe dream. Hariri, aka Fatso, has been a long time pawn of Saudi Arabia and a favorite of both Washington and Paris. His murder comes against the backdrop of increased pressure by the United States and France to force Syria to withdraw its military forces from Lebanon. This car bombing was probably designed to send an unambiguous message to both Lebanese and the international community that Syria will not stand idly by and surrender to pressures from Washington, Paris, and the United Nations. Hariri, who had been staying on the sidelines in recent months as political parties in Lebanon jockeyed for position in upcoming parliamentary elections, was a convenient and potent symbol of a Lebanese power broker perceived as too close and too accommodating of Western desires. His killers are providing a simple message, Syria will not leave Lebanon without a fight and Damascus is willing to destroy Lebanon in order to save itself.[/i]

Juan Cole thinks it was either Al Qaeda one of Hariri’s business rivals ( http://www.juancole.com/2005/02/hariri-killed-in-huge-car-bombing-in.html ).

[i]Personally, I find the likelihood of the Saudi connection generating al-Qaeda-type violence against him somewhat more plausible than that it came out of local politics, since local politics had been fairly civil in Lebanon. It is also possible, since al-Hariri was worth $4 billion and had all sorts of shady deals going on even when he was PM, that this assassination had an economic/ mafia-type background that we are not aware of. [/i]

The Cole theory got a boost from a videotape played on Al Jazeera from “The Organization for Victory and Jihad in the Levant” claiming responsibility for the attack. ( http://counterterror.typepad.com/the_counterterrorism_blog/2005/02/purported_claim.html )

[i]According to the statement, "For the sake of our Mujahideen brothers in Saudi Arabia ... we decided to implement the just execution of those who support this regime... This was a martyrdom operation we carried out ... This is the beginning of many martyrdom operations against the infidels and apostates in the Levant.?[/i]

On the other hand, a New York Times ( http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/14/international/14cnd-beirut.html?hp&ex=1108443600&en=e4780da10d7c3c2d&ei=5094&partner=homepage ) article suggests the US government strongly suspects Syria. (Hat tip: Belgravia Dispatch http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/archives/004367.html )

[i]In Washington, the Bush administration, while not accusing Syria of the killing, reacted today with unusually strong language aimed at Damascus. President Bush was ?shocked and angered? over the killing, said his chief spokesman, Scott McClellan. Mr. McClellan said the United States would consult with other governments in the region and members of the United Nations Security Council about ways ?to punish those responsible for this terrorist attack? and to free Lebanon ?from foreign occupation.? And the State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, said American diplomats may convey Washington?s anger directly to the Syrians, ?given their influence and interest in Lebanon.?[/i]

Moreover, some Lebanese political figures have pointed the finger straight at Syria. ( http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Story.asp?Article=104441&Sn=WORL&IssueID=27332 )

Exiled Lebanese political leader Michel Aoun accused Syria of responsibility for the death of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. “They are responsible. It’s they who control the security and intelligence services” in Beirut, he said and added there were “many indications” to back up his assertion. Lebanese opposition figures blamed Syrian and Lebanese authorities for the death of Hariri. In a statement after an emergency meeting, opposition figures also called for Syrian forces to pull out before elections in May, as well as a three-day strike.

Only a few hours after Hariri’s death, the US seemed sure enough of the perpetrators to set in motion punitive measures against Syria. The New York Times reports ( http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/15/international/middleeast/15syria.html ):

[i]The Bush administration, condemning the assassination of the former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, in Lebanon, suggested Monday that Syria was to blame and moved to get a new condemnation of Syria's domination of Lebanon at the United Nations Security Council. ...

"We're going to turn up the heat on Syria, that's for sure," said a senior State Department official. "It's been a pretty steady progression of pressure up to now, but I think it's going to spike in the wake of this event. Even though there's no evidence to link it to Syria, Syria has, by negligence or design, allowed Lebanon to become destabilized." At the United Nations, the Security Council called for a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the bombing, but there was some doubt that the Council would vote to condemn Syria by name. In a resolution passed last year to condemn Syria's role in Lebanon, Syria's name was not mentioned; there was only a reference to foreign forces in Lebanon.

In the view of American analysts, Syria has in turn done the bidding of Iran, using Syrian territory to support Hezbollah, a major presence in Lebanon, and other Islamic groups that have attacked Israel. The United States has focused mounting attention on Iran in recent weeks, both because of its suspected nuclear arms program and because of its support of groups trying to disrupt a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [/i]

Hariri’s was protected against small-time assasination attemptions by the use of armored vehicles which equipped with electronic sweeping devices. It can be safely assumed that the Lebanese billionaire could afford the best private security that money could buy. Those security forces would employ countersurveillance, deceptive scheduling and decoys. But those formidable defenses were defeated by a truly massive bomb of several hundred pounds possibly detonated by a suicider, hence the “martyrdom” operation referred to in the videotape. They must have been supported by a surveillance and intelligence operation of no mean quality. That combination of expertise, access to large quantities of explosive and ready money makes it almost certain that Hariri’s killers were either state-sponsored or belonged to a very powerful terrorist organization. Moreover, if Hariri’s death was intended to “send a message” it was one that had to be widely understood by the intended audience without additional embellishment. As the Jerusalem Post put it ( http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1108353358867 ):

[i]The murderers of Rafik Hariri knew their target was among the most significant figures in Lebanon. The self-made billionaire helped reconstruct his country after a destructive civil war, knew all the top people in Washington and was a personal friend of French President Jacques Chirac and Saudi Arabia's King Fahd. "You can't go any higher than blowing up Hariri in the middle of Beirut in the middle of the day," said one analyst in Beirut. "It's a very powerful message to all the Lebanese, and to the opposition."[/i]

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
My money would be on the Syrians, given their involvement in Lebanon and the fact that Hariri was recently speaking out a lot against that involvement. I think we just announced we were pulling our Ambassador out of Syria too, which seems to indicate the Bush Administration thinks so too. [/quote]

How convenient - didn’t see that one coming.

How much you wanna bet Irans’ fixing to “blow something up” too… wink, wink.

Mossad behind Hariri assassination
By Hassan Hanizadeh
February 16, 2005

Former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri was killed in a massive bomb blast in central Beirut on Monday.

The explosion destroyed a number of public buildings and vehicles, showing that the complicated terrorist act was carried out by a well equipped organization.

The situation in Lebanon and the region is now so critical that any discord could cause a new crisis for this small but strategic country.

Lebanon, which has been the cradle of peaceful coexistence among different religious and ethnic groups, experienced a 15-year civil war due to a series of domestic, regional, and international factors in the 1970s and 1980s.

The war left thousands of Muslim and Christian civilians dead, causing Lebanon huge financial losses.

In 1990, the various groups finally put aside their differences and calm and national unity ruled the country again.

Then, following the Zionist army’s defeat in south Lebanon in 2000, Lebanon was once more put into the worldwide spotlight.

Lebanon eventually regained its regional economic position thanks to reconstruction and economic restoration, partly due to the efforts of the late Hariri.

However, regional and trans-regional powers such as the United States and the Zionist regime are trying to steer Lebanon toward a crisis, aiming to extend their military and political presence in some parts of the Middle East and the Mediterranean.

The United States’ strong support of UN Resolution 1559, which requires Syria to withdraw its forces from Lebanese soil, is part of Washington’s plan to politically influence Lebanon and the region once again.

Israel and the U.S. seek to sever the spiritual and physical contacts between Syria and Lebanon in order to isolate Syria in the Middle East and check its political sway in the region.

Neither the Lebanese government nor the majority of its citizens want Syrian troops to quit their country.

However, if Syrian forces withdraw from Lebanese territory, it would surely pave the way for the political and military machinations of the United States and Israel.

The Lebanese and Syrian nations, due to their historical, ideological, and ethnic affinities, are in fact one nation in two separate lands. The regional and trans-regional powers must understand this and must realize that the two nations cannot be separated spiritually. Now, the question is: Who benefited from the assassination of Hariri, a man who played a constructive role in the reestablishment of security in Lebanon?

All the evidence indicates that the Israeli intelligence service Mossad killed Hariri, since it had previously plotted to assassinate important Lebanese politicians.

The Mossad is trying to help the Zionist army claw its way back into Lebanon, since history has shown that the stability of Lebanon is not to the advantage of Israel.

Lebanon now faces a more complicated situation and should stay alert in order to thwart the Zionist regime’s plots to dominate the country once again.

http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=2/16/2005&Cat=14&Num=001

Israel to kill in U.S., allied nations
By Richard Sale
UPI Intelligence Correspondent
1/15/2003

Israel is embarking upon a more aggressive approach to the war on terror that will include staging targeted killings in the United States and other friendly countries, former Israeli intelligence officials told United Press International.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has forbidden the practice until now, these sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Israeli statements were confirmed by more than a half dozen former and currently serving U.S. foreign policy and intelligence officials in interviews with United Press International.

But an official at the Israeli Embassy in Washington told UPI: “That is rubbish. It is completely untrue. Israel and the United States have such a close and co-operative intelligence relationship, especially in the field of counter-terrorism, that the assertion is ludicrous.”

With the appointment of Meir Dagan, the new director of Israel’s Mossad secret intelligence service, Sharon is preparing “a huge budget” increase for the spy agency as part of “a tougher stance in fighting global jihad (or holy war),” one Israeli official said.

Since Sharon became Israeli prime minister, Tel Aviv has mainly limited its practice of targeted killings to the West Bank and Gaza because “no one wanted such operations on their territory,” a former Israeli intelligence official said.

Another former Israeli government official said that under Sharon, “diplomatic constraints have prevented the Mossad from carrying out ‘preventive operations’ (targeted killings) on the soil of friendly countries until now.”

He said Sharon is “reversing that policy, even if it risks complications to Israel’s bilateral relations.”

A former Israeli military intelligence source agreed: “What Sharon wants is a much more extensive and tough approach to global terrorism, and this includes greater operational maneuverability.”

Does this mean assassinations on the soil of allies?

“It does,” he said.

“Mossad is definitely being beefed up,” a U.S. government official said of the Israeli agency’s budget increase. He declined to comment on the Tel Aviv’s geographic expansion of targeted killings.

An FBI spokesman also declined to comment, saying: “This is a policy matter. We only enforce federal laws.”

A congressional staff member with deep knowledge of intelligence matters said, “I don’t know on what basis we would be able to protest Israel’s actions.” He referred to the recent killing of Qaed Salim Sinan al Harethi, a top al Qaida leader, in Yemen by a remotely controlled CIA drone.

“That was done on the soil of a friendly ally,” the staffer said.

But the complications posed by Israel’s new policy are real.

“Israel does not have a good record at doing this sort of thing,” said former CIA counter-terrorism official Larry Johnson.

He cited the 1997 fiasco where two Mossad agents were captured after they tried to assassinate Khaled Mashaal, a Hamas political leader, by injecting him with poison.

According to Johnson, the attempt, made in Amman, Jordan, caused a political crisis in Israeli-Jordan relations. In addition, because the Israeli agents carried Canadian passports, Canada withdrew its ambassador in protest, he said. Jordan is one of two Arab nations to recognize Israel. The other is Egypt.

At the time, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, “I have no intention of stopping the activities of this government against terror,” according to a CNN report.

Former CIA officials say Israel was forced to free jailed Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmad Yassin and 70 other Jordanian and Palestinian prisoner being held in Israeli jails to secure the release of the two would-be Mossad assassins.

Phil Stoddard, former director of the Middle East Institute, cited a botched plot to kill Ali Hassan Salemeh, the mastermind of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre. The 1974 attempt severely embarrassed Mossad when the Israeli hit team mistakenly assassinated a Moroccan waiter in Lillehammer, Norway.

Salemeh, later a CIA asset, was killed in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1976 by a car bomb placed by an Israeli assassination team, former U.S. intelligence officials said.

“Israel knew Salemeh was providing us with preventive intelligence on the Palestinians and his being killed pissed off a lot of people,” said a former senior CIA official.

But some Israeli operations have been successful.

Gerald Bull, an Ontario-born U.S. citizen and designer of the Iraqi supergun – a massive artillery system capable of launching satellites into orbit, and of delivering nuclear chemical or biological payloads from Baghdad to Israel – was killed in Belgium in March 1990. The killing is still unsolved, but former CIA officials said a Mossad hit team is the most likely suspect.

Bull worked on the supergun design – codenamed Project Babylon – for 10 years, and helped the Iraqis develop many smaller artillery systems. He was found with five bullets in his head outside his Brussels apartment.

Israeli hit teams, which consist of units or squadrons of the Kidon, a sub-unit for Mossad’s highly secret Metsada department, would stage the operations, former Israeli intelligence sources said. Kidon is a Hebrew word meaning “bayonet,” one former Israeli intelligence source said.

This Israeli government source explained that in the past Israel has not staged targeted killings in friendly countries because “no one wanted such operations on their territory.”

This has become irrelevant, he said.

Dagan, the new hard-driving director of Mossad, will implement the new changes, former Israeli government officials said.

Dagan, nicknamed “the gun,” was Sharon’s adviser on counter-terrorism during the government of Netanyahu in 1996, former Israeli government officials say. A former military man, Dagan has also undertaken extremely sensitive diplomatic missions for several of Israel’s prime ministers, former Israeli government sources said.

Former Israel Defense Forces Lt. Col. Gal Luft, who served under Dagan, described him as an “extremely creative individual – creative to the point of recklessness.”

A former CIA official who knows Dagan said the new Mossad director knows “his foreign affairs inside and out,” and has a “real killer instinct.”

Dagan is also “an intelligence natural” who has “a superb analyst not afraid to act on gut instinct,” the former CIA official said.

Dagan has already removed Mossad officials whom he regards as “being too conservative or too cautious” and is building up “a constituency of senior people of the same mentality,” one former long-time Israeli operative said.

Dagan is also urging that Mossad operatives rely less on secret sources and rely more on open information that is so plentifully provided on the Internet and newspapers.

“It’s a cultural thing,” one former Israeli intelligence operative explained. “Mossad in the past has put its emphasis on Humint (human intelligence) and secret operations and has neglected the whole field of open media, which has become extremely important.”

Oh come on now – it makes absolutely no sense for the Mossad to have taken out the most pro-U.S. and anti-Syrian of the Lebanese politicians, and one whose party looked like it was going to come back into power in the next election.

These massive conspiracy theories have got to at least have a background idea that makes sense, don’t they?

I knew it, I knew it I knew it. JTF was gonna blame the Jew. Your quoting a Muslim rag that refuses to call Israel by its name as proof that Israel is up to something? You, my friend are certifiable.

What I find even more disturbing is that if you were to speak about black people like you do the Jew, you would probably get kicked off this site. But for some reason, anti-semitism is o.k.

[quote]BostonBarrister wrote:
Oh come on now – it makes absolutely no sense for the Mossad to have taken out the most pro-U.S. and anti-Syrian of the Lebanese politicians, and one whose party looked like it was going to come back into power in the next election.

These massive conspiracy theories have got to at least have a background idea that makes sense, don’t they?[/quote]

Come on BB - the US has BEEN threatening Syria with military action – I think you may have the misconception the US wants to AVOID confict.

Analysis / U.S. puts pressure on Syria
Feb 16, 2005
By Zvi Bar’el

The American administration indirectly joined French President Jacques Chirac’s call for an international investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri when Washington called its ambassador in Damascus home for consultations.

The American step, when there is still no clue, at least publicly known, as to the identity of the assassins, directly lays the blame for the events in Lebanon at the Syrians’ door, even if it is not directly responsible for the assassination.

Therefore, the U.S. and France, partners in the pressure on Syria to implement UN Security Resolution 1559, which calls for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon, have now pulled the Hariri assassination from the domestic Lebanese arena and made it an international issue.

The speedy action by Washington was meant to publicly show support for the Lebanese opposition groups, made up by Druze leader Walid Jumblatt and the Christian leadership, which Hariri joined after resigning from the premiership last October.

On a practical level, the U.S. offered the Lebanese government its assistance in the inquiry, offering to send FBI investigators. But the goal apparently was much more far-reaching: with the assumption being that the current situation in Lebanon with regard to its relationship with Syria cannot go on, even if it turns out that Syria was not involved in the assassination, and the assassination should be used to accelerate the Syrian departure from Lebanon.

One of the first people to understand the new situation, not surprisingly, was Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, who called for “unity in the ranks” in Lebanon and for the first time revealed that he held a weekly meeting with Hariri, including a meeting a week before the assassination.

At those meetings, Nasrallah said, they discussed various issues relating to the future of the country. Nasrallah demanded a thorough investigation and did not rule out consultation with foreign agencies - a hint about the FBI. Nasrallah used his revelation of meetings with Hariri to call for national reconciliation to avoid a deterioration into civil war but he was particularly worried by the calls issued by Jumblatt for an international mandate for Lebanon to replace the Syrian occupation.

The Lebanese opposition’s surge in momentum in the wake of the assassination and the recognition that Syrian President Bashar Assad will find it difficult to withstand mounting international pressure, will force Nasrallah to reconsider his organization’s position inside Lebanon.

One reasonable defensive measure, for both Syria and Hezbollah, will be to delegitimize the Lebanese opposition by depicting it as cozying up to the Americans. If Syria and Hezbollah succeed at diverting the debate in Lebanon to issues of loyalty to the U.S. or the “homeland” Washington’s step could end up taking things in the opposite direction it intended.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/540722.html

[quote]rainjack wrote:
I knew it, I knew it I knew it. JTF was gonna blame the Jew. Your quoting a Muslim rag that refuses to call Israel by its name as proof that Israel is up to something? You, my friend are certifiable.

What I find even more disturbing is that if you were to speak about black people like you do the Jew, you would probably get kicked off this site. But for some reason, anti-semitism is o.k.[/quote]

That’s how out of whack your thinking is – if you’d ever figure out Israel is a COUNTRY and Jews are an ETHNIC GROUP maybe you wouldn’t get so freaked out.

You don’t seem to have a problem condemning France, Germany, Britain and Canada (I’m sure I missed a few)

[quote]JustTheFacts wrote:
rainjack wrote:
I knew it, I knew it I knew it. JTF was gonna blame the Jew. Your quoting a Muslim rag that refuses to call Israel by its name as proof that Israel is up to something? You, my friend are certifiable.

What I find even more disturbing is that if you were to speak about black people like you do the Jew, you would probably get kicked off this site. But for some reason, anti-semitism is o.k.

That’s how out of whack your thinking is – if you’d ever figure out Israel is a COUNTRY and Jews are an ETHNIC GROUP maybe you wouldn’t get so freaked out.

You don’t seem to have a problem condemning France, Germany, Britain and Canada (I’m sure I missed a few)[/quote]

What’s this answer got to do with anything at all?

JTF, so… are you saying that France is now the US’ pawn too? Maybe Israel got France and the US to make up? Do you even read this stuff or do you just see “The US Is Evil” in the headlines and eat it up?

You’re also implicating the US in outright murder without cause, and I find that highly disgusting. That sort of thing is not what this country is about.

[quote]JustTheFacts wrote:
That’s how out of whack your thinking is – if you’d ever figure out Israel is a COUNTRY and Jews are an ETHNIC GROUP maybe you wouldn’t get so freaked out.

You don’t seem to have a problem condemning France, Germany, Britain and Canada (I’m sure I missed a few)

[b]Then, following the Zionist army’s defeat in south Lebanon in 2000, Lebanon was once more put into the worldwide spotlight.

However, regional and trans-regional powers such as the United States and the Zionist regime are trying to steer Lebanon toward a crisis, aiming to extend their military and political presence in some parts of the Middle East and the Mediterranean.[/b]
[/quote]

Maybe if you wouldn’t use anti-semitic sources to try and prove your point, you would appear less racist.

Well, Syria definitely has motives.
They have the means and acapacities of doing it too.

However, one would think if syria is that fuckin stupid to do such an obvious crime!

I mean, even if they are criminals, would they be that stupid of a criminal. I mean it’s very obvious. This is why I think it might be some other outer involvment. But then again, it might be the stupid ass pro-syrian governemtn and syrian fuckers.

[quote]Joe Weider wrote:

What’s this answer got to do with anything at all?
[/quote]

What are YOU saying?

Rain accused me of being anti-Semitic but my criticism is with Israel – not Jews.

Lots of Jews themselves criticize Israel - you know why? Because Israel’s own actions perpetuate world anti-Semitism in people who don’t know the difference between Zionism and Judaism.

Zionism Promotes Anti-Semitism

Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), the founder of modern Zionism, recognized that anti-Semitism would further his cause, the creation of a separate state for Jews. To solve the Jewish Question, he maintained “we must, above all, make it an international political issue.”

http://www.jewsagainstzionism.com/antisemitism/zionismpromotes.cfm

[quote]Moon Knight wrote:
JTF, so… are you saying that France is now the US’ pawn too? Maybe Israel got France and the US to make up? Do you even read this stuff or do you just see “The US Is Evil” in the headlines and eat it up?

You’re also implicating the US in outright murder without cause, and I find that highly disgusting. That sort of thing is not what this country is about.[/quote]

Now your kinda coming around - THIS country is not about that sort of thing, but the neocons in the Bush administration are LOYAL TO ISRAEL, not the US.

Every single country we are now in conflict with are ISRAEL’s enemies, not the US’s.

We are NOT trying to AVOID military conflict, we are trying to START it. Regardless if you agree with me or not - you will soon see that nothing will STOP a military conflict with Syria and Iran short of them giving up their countries.

BTW, France has been trying to get back on our good side again so they may commit to this one.

Might want to read up on the near future… or maybe not.

Whose War?
A neoconservative clique seeks to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America’s interest.
March 24, 2003
by Patrick J. Buchanan

The War Party may have gotten its war. But it has also gotten something it did not bargain for. Its membership lists and associations have been exposed and its motives challenged. In a rare moment in U.S. journalism, Tim Russert put this question directly to Richard Perle: ?Can you assure American viewers … that we?re in this situation against Saddam Hussein and his removal for American security interests? And what would be the link in terms of Israel?"

Suddenly, the Israeli connection is on the table, and the War Party is not amused. Finding themselves in an unanticipated firefight, our neoconservative friends are doing what comes naturally, seeking student deferments from political combat by claiming the status of a persecuted minority group. People who claim to be writing the foreign policy of the world superpower, one would think, would be a little more manly in the schoolyard of politics. Not so.

Former Wall Street Journal editor Max Boot kicked off the campaign. When these ?Buchananites toss around ?neoconservative??and cite names like Wolfowitz and Cohen?it sometimes sounds as if what they really mean is ?Jewish conservative.?? Yet Boot readily concedes that a passionate attachment to Israel is a ?key tenet of neoconservatism.? He also claims that the National Security Strategy of President Bush ?sounds as if it could have come straight out from the pages of Commentary magazine, the neocon bible.? (For the uninitiated, Commentary, the bible in which Boot seeks divine guidance, is the monthly of the American Jewish Committee.)

David Brooks of the Weekly Standard wails that attacks based on the Israel tie have put him through personal hell: ?Now I get a steady stream of anti-Semitic screeds in my e-mail, my voicemail and in my mailbox. … Anti-Semitism is alive and thriving. It?s just that its epicenter is no longer on the Buchananite Right, but on the peace-movement left.?

Washington Post columnist Robert Kagan endures his own purgatory abroad: ?In London … one finds Britain?s finest minds propounding, in sophisticated language and melodious Oxbridge accents, the conspiracy theories of Pat Buchanan concerning the ?neoconservative? (read: Jewish) hijacking of American foreign policy.?

Lawrence Kaplan of the New Republic charges that our little magazine ?has been transformed into a forum for those who contend that President Bush has become a client of … Ariel Sharon and the ?neoconservative war party.??

Referencing Charles Lindbergh, he accuses Paul Schroeder, Chris Matthews, Robert Novak, Georgie Anne Geyer, Jason Vest of the Nation, and Gary Hart of implying that ?members of the Bush team have been doing Israel?s bidding and, by extension, exhibiting ?dual loyalties.?? Kaplan thunders:

The real problem with such claims is not just that they are untrue. The problem is that they are toxic. Invoking the specter of dual loyalty to mute criticism and debate amounts to more than the everyday pollution of public discourse. It is the nullification of public discourse, for how can one refute accusations grounded in ethnicity? The charges are, ipso facto, impossible to disprove. And so they are meant to be.

What is going on here? Slate?s Mickey Kaus nails it in the headline of his retort: ?Lawrence Kaplan Plays the Anti-Semitic Card.?

What Kaplan, Brooks, Boot, and Kagan are doing is what the Rev. Jesse Jackson does when caught with some mammoth contribution from a Fortune 500 company he has lately accused of discriminating. He plays the race card. So, too, the neoconservatives are trying to fend off critics by assassinating their character and impugning their motives.

Indeed, it is the charge of ?anti-Semitism? itself that is toxic. For this venerable slander is designed to nullify public discourse by smearing and intimidating foes and censoring and blacklisting them and any who would publish them. Neocons say we attack them because they are Jewish. We do not. We attack them because their warmongering threatens our country, even as it finds a reliable echo in Ariel Sharon.

And this time the boys have cried ?wolf? once too often. It is not working. As Kaus notes, Kaplan?s own New Republic carries Harvard professor Stanley Hoffman. In writing of the four power centers in this capital that are clamoring for war, Hoffman himself describes the fourth thus:

And, finally, there is a loose collection of friends of Israel, who believe in the identity of interests between the Jewish state and the United States. ? These analysts look on foreign policy through the lens of one dominant concern: Is it good or bad for Israel? Since that nation?s founding in 1948, these thinkers have never been in very good odor at the State Department, but now they are well ensconced in the Pentagon, around such strategists as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith.

?If Stanley Hoffman can say this,? asks Kaus, ?why can?t Chris Matthews?? Kaus also notes that Kaplan somehow failed to mention the most devastating piece tying the neoconservatives to Sharon and his Likud Party.

In a Feb. 9 front-page article in the Washington Post, Robert Kaiser quotes a senior U.S. official as saying, ?The Likudniks are really in charge now.? Kaiser names Perle, Wolfowitz, and Feith as members of a pro-Israel network inside the administration and adds David Wurmser of the Defense Department and Elliott Abrams of the National Security Council. (Abrams is the son-in-law of Norman Podhoretz, editor emeritus of Commentary, whose magazine has for decades branded critics of Israel as anti-Semites.)

Noting that Sharon repeatedly claims a ?special closeness? to the Bushites, Kaiser writes, ?For the first time a U.S. administration and a Likud government are pursuing nearly identical policies.? And a valid question is: how did this come to be, and while it is surely in Sharon?s interest, is it in America?s interest?

This is a time for truth. For America is about to make a momentous decision: whether to launch a series of wars in the Middle East that could ignite the Clash of Civilizations against which Harvard professor Samuel Huntington has warned, a war we believe would be a tragedy and a disaster for this Republic. To avert this war, to answer the neocon smears, we ask that our readers review their agenda as stated in their words. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. As Al Smith used to say, ?Nothing un-American can live in the sunlight.?

We charge that a cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America?s interests. We charge them with colluding with Israel to ignite those wars and destroy the Oslo Accords. We charge them with deliberately damaging U.S. relations with every state in the Arab world that defies Israel or supports the Palestinian people?s right to a homeland of their own. We charge that they have alienated friends and allies all over the Islamic and Western world through their arrogance, hubris, and bellicosity.

Not in our lifetimes has America been so isolated from old friends. Far worse, President Bush is being lured into a trap baited for him by these neocons that could cost him his office and cause America to forfeit years of peace won for us by the sacrifices of two generations in the Cold War.

They charge us with anti-Semitism?i.e., a hatred of Jews for their faith, heritage, or ancestry. False. The truth is, those hurling these charges harbor a ?passionate attachment? to a nation not our own that causes them to subordinate the interests of their own country and to act on an assumption that, somehow, what?s good for Israel is good for America.

The Neoconservatives

Who are the neoconservatives? The first generation were ex-liberals, socialists, and Trotskyites, boat-people from the McGovern revolution who rafted over to the GOP at the end of conservatism?s long march to power with Ronald Reagan in 1980.

A neoconservative, wrote Kevin Phillips back then, is more likely to be a magazine editor than a bricklayer. Today, he or she is more likely to be a resident scholar at a public policy institute such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) or one of its clones like the Center for Security Policy or the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA). As one wag writes, a neocon is more familiar with the inside of a think tank than an Abrams tank.

Almost none came out of the business world or military, and few if any came out of the Goldwater campaign. The heroes they invoke are Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Harry Truman, Martin Luther King, and Democratic Senators Henry ?Scoop? Jackson (Wash.) and Pat Moynihan (N.Y.).

All are interventionists who regard Stakhanovite support of Israel as a defining characteristic of their breed. Among their luminaries are Jeane Kirkpatrick, Bill Bennett, Michael Novak, and James Q. Wilson.

Their publications include the Weekly Standard, Commentary, the New Republic, National Review, and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. Though few in number, they wield disproportionate power through control of the conservative foundations and magazines, through their syndicated columns, and by attaching themselves to men of power.

Beating the War Drums

When the Cold War ended, these neoconservatives began casting about for a new crusade to give meaning to their lives. On Sept. 11, their time came. They seized on that horrific atrocity to steer America?s rage into all-out war to destroy their despised enemies, the Arab and Islamic ?rogue states? that have resisted U.S. hegemony and loathe Israel.

The War Party?s plan, however, had been in preparation far in advance of 9/11. And when President Bush, after defeating the Taliban, was looking for a new front in the war on terror, they put their precooked meal in front of him. Bush dug into it.

Before introducing the script-writers of America?s future wars, consider the rapid and synchronized reaction of the neocons to what happened after that fateful day.

On Sept. 12, Americans were still in shock when Bill Bennett told CNN that we were in ?a struggle between good and evil,? that the Congress must declare war on ?militant Islam,? and that ?overwhelming force? must be used. Bennett cited Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and China as targets for attack. Not, however, Afghanistan, the sanctuary of Osama?s terrorists. How did Bennett know which nations must be smashed before he had any idea who attacked us?

The Wall Street Journal immediately offered up a specific target list, calling for U.S. air strikes on ?terrorist camps in Syria, Sudan, Libya, and Algeria, and perhaps even in parts of Egypt.? Yet, not one of Bennett?s six countries, nor one of these five, had anything to do with 9/11.

On Sept. 15, according to Bob Woodward?s Bush at War, ?Paul Wolfowitz put forth military arguments to justify a U.S. attack on Iraq rather than Afghanistan.? Why Iraq? Because, Wolfowitz argued in the War Cabinet, while ?attacking Afghanistan would be uncertain ? Iraq was a brittle oppressive regime that might break easily. It was doable.?

On Sept. 20, forty neoconservatives sent an open letter to the White House instructing President Bush on how the war on terror must be conducted. Signed by Bennett, Podhoretz, Kirkpatrick, Perle, Kristol, and Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, the letter was an ultimatum. To retain the signers? support, the president was told, he must target Hezbollah for destruction, retaliate against Syria and Iran if they refuse to sever ties to Hezbollah, and overthrow Saddam. Any failure to attack Iraq, the signers warned Bush, ?will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism.?

Here was a cabal of intellectuals telling the Commander-in-Chief, nine days after an attack on America, that if he did not follow their war plans, he would be charged with surrendering to terror. Yet, Hezbollah had nothing to do with 9/11. What had Hezbollah done? Hezbollah had humiliated Israel by driving its army out of Lebanon.

President Bush had been warned. He was to exploit the attack of 9/11 to launch a series of wars on Arab regimes, none of which had attacked us. All, however, were enemies of Israel. ?Bibi? Netanyahu, the former Prime Minister of Israel, like some latter-day Citizen Genet, was ubiquitous on American television, calling for us to crush the ?Empire of Terror.? The ?Empire,? it turns out, consisted of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Iraq, and ?the Palestinian enclave.?

Nasty as some of these regimes and groups might be, what had they done to the United States?

The War Party seemed desperate to get a Middle East war going before America had second thoughts. Tom Donnelly of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) called for an immediate invasion of Iraq. ?Nor need the attack await the deployment of half a million troops. ? [T]he larger challenge will be occupying Iraq after the fighting is over,? he wrote.

Donnelly was echoed by Jonah Goldberg of National Review: ?The United States needs to go to war with Iraq because it needs to go to war with someone in the region and Iraq makes the most sense.?

Goldberg endorsed ?the Ledeen Doctrine? of ex-Pentagon official Michael Ledeen, which Goldberg described thus: ?Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show we mean business.? (When the French ambassador in London, at a dinner party, asked why we should risk World War III over some ?shitty little country??meaning Israel?Goldberg?s magazine was not amused.)

Ledeen, however, is less frivolous. In The War Against the Terror Masters, he identifies the exact regimes America must destroy:

First and foremost, we must bring down the terror regimes, beginning with the Big Three: Iran, Iraq, and Syria. And then we have to come to grips with Saudi Arabia. ? Once the tyrants in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia have been brought down, we will remain engaged. ?We have to ensure the fulfillment of the democratic revolution. ? Stability is an unworthy American mission, and a misleading concept to boot. We do not want stability in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and even Saudi Arabia; we want things to change. The real issue is not whether, but how to destabilize.

Rejecting stability as ?an unworthy American mission,? Ledeen goes on to define America?s authentic ?historic mission?:

Creative destruction is our middle name, both within our society and abroad. We tear down the old order every day, from business to science, literature, art, architecture, and cinema to politics and the law. Our enemies have always hated this whirlwind of energy and creativity which menaces their traditions (whatever they may be) and shames them for their inability to keep pace. ? [W]e must destroy them to advance our historic mission.

Passages like this owe more to Leon Trotsky than to Robert Taft and betray a Jacobin streak in neoconservatism that cannot be reconciled with any concept of true conservatism.

To the Weekly Standard, Ledeen?s enemies list was too restrictive. We must not only declare war on terror networks and states that harbor terrorists, said the Standard, we should launch wars on ?any group or government inclined to support or sustain others like them in the future.?

Robert Kagan and William Kristol were giddy with excitement at the prospect of Armageddon. The coming war ?is going to spread and engulf a number of countries. ? It is going to resemble the clash of civilizations that everyone has hoped to avoid. ? [I]t is possible that the demise of some ?moderate? Arab regimes may be just round the corner.?

Norman Podhoretz in Commentary even outdid Kristol?s Standard, rhapsodizing that we should embrace a war of civilizations, as it is George W. Bush?s mission ?to fight World War IV?the war against militant Islam.? By his count, the regimes that richly deserve to be overthrown are not confined to the three singled-out members of the axis of evil (Iraq, Iran, North Korea). At a minimum, the axis should extend to Syria and Lebanon and Libya, as well as ??friends? of America like the Saudi royal family and Egypt?s Hosni Mubarak, along with the Palestinian Authority. Bush must reject the ?timorous counsels? of the ?incorrigibly cautious Colin Powell,? wrote Podhoretz, and ?find the stomach to impose a new political culture on the defeated? Islamic world. As the war against al-Qaeda required that we destroy the Taliban, Podhoretz wrote,

We may willy-nilly find ourselves forced ? to topple five or six or seven more tyrannies in the Islamic world (including that other sponsor of terrorism, Yasir Arafat?s Palestinian Authority). I can even [imagine] the turmoil of this war leading to some new species of an imperial mission for America, whose purpose would be to oversee the emergence of successor governments in the region more amenable to reform and modernization than the despotisms now in place. ? I can also envisage the establishment of some kind of American protectorate over the oil fields of Saudi Arabia, as we more and more come to wonder why 7,000 princes should go on being permitted to exert so much leverage over us and everyone else.

Podhoretz credits Eliot Cohen with the phrase ?World War IV.? Bush was shortly thereafter seen carrying about a gift copy of Cohen?s book that celebrates civilian mastery of the military in times of war, as exhibited by such leaders as Winston Churchill and David Ben Gurion.

A list of the Middle East regimes that Podhoretz, Bennett, Ledeen, Netanyahu, and the Wall Street Journal regard as targets for destruction thus includes Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, and ?militant Islam.?

Cui Bono? For whose benefit these endless wars in a region that holds nothing vital to America save oil, which the Arabs must sell us to survive? Who would benefit from a war of civilizations between the West and Islam?

Answer: one nation, one leader, one party. Israel, Sharon, Likud.

Indeed, Sharon has been everywhere the echo of his acolytes in America. In February 2003, Sharon told a delegation of Congressmen that, after Saddam?s regime is destroyed, it is of ?vital importance? that the United States disarm Iran, Syria, and Libya.

?We have a great interest in shaping the Middle East the day after? the war on Iraq, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told the Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations. After U.S. troops enter Baghdad, the United States must generate ?political, economic, diplomatic pressure? on Tehran, Mofaz admonished the American Jews.

Are the neoconservatives concerned about a war on Iraq bringing down friendly Arab governments? Not at all. They would welcome it.

?Mubarak is no great shakes,? says Richard Perle of the President of Egypt. ?Surely we can do better than Mubarak.? Asked about the possibility that a war on Iraq?which he predicted would be a ?cakewalk??might upend governments in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, former UN ambassador Ken Adelman told Joshua Micah Marshall of Washington Monthly, ?All the better if you ask me.?

On July 10, 2002, Perle invited a former aide to Lyndon LaRouche named Laurent Murawiec to address the Defense Policy Board. In a briefing that startled Henry Kissinger, Murawiec named Saudi Arabia as ?the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent? of the United States.

Washington should give Riyadh an ultimatum, he said. Either you Saudis ?prosecute or isolate those involved in the terror chain, including the Saudi intelligence services,? and end all propaganda against Israel, or we invade your country, seize your oil fields, and occupy Mecca.

In closing his PowerPoint presentation, Murawiec offered a ?Grand Strategy for the Middle East.? ?Iraq is the tactical pivot, Saudi Arabia the strategic pivot, Egypt the prize.? Leaked reports of Murawiec?s briefing did not indicate if anyone raised the question of how the Islamic world might respond to U.S. troops tramping around the grounds of the Great Mosque.

What these neoconservatives seek is to conscript American blood to make the world safe for Israel. They want the peace of the sword imposed on Islam and American soldiers to die if necessary to impose it.

Washington Times editor at large Arnaud de Borchgrave calls this the ?Bush-Sharon Doctrine.? ?Washington?s ?Likudniks,?? he writes, ?have been in charge of U.S. policy in the Middle East since Bush was sworn into office.?

The neocons seek American empire, and Sharonites seek hegemony over the Middle East. The two agendas coincide precisely. And though neocons insist that it was Sept. 11 that made the case for war on Iraq and militant Islam, the origins of their war plans go back far before.

?Securing the Realm?

The principal draftsman is Richard Perle, an aide to Sen. Scoop Jackson, who, in 1970, was overheard on a federal wiretap discussing classified information from the National Security Council with the Israeli Embassy. In Jews and American Politics, published in 1974, Stephen D. Isaacs wrote, ?Richard Perle and Morris Amitay command a tiny army of Semitophiles on Capitol Hill and direct Jewish power in behalf of Jewish interests.? In 1983, the New York Times reported that Perle had taken substantial payments from an Israeli weapons manufacturer.

In 1996, with Douglas Feith and David Wurmser, Perle wrote ?A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,? for Prime Minister Netanyahu. In it, Perle, Feith, and Wurmser urged Bibi to ditch the Oslo Accords of the assassinated Yitzak Rabin and adopt a new aggressive strategy:

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. Jordan has challenged Syria?s regional ambitions recently by suggesting the restoration of the Hashemites in Iraq.

In the Perle-Feith-Wurmser strategy, Israel?s enemy remains Syria, but the road to Damascus runs through Baghdad. Their plan, which urged Israel to re-establish ?the principle of preemption,? has now been imposed by Perle, Feith, Wurmser & Co. on the United States.

In his own 1997 paper, “A Strategy for Israel,” Feith pressed Israel to re-occupy “the areas under Palestinian Authority control,” though “the price in blood would be high.”

Wurmser, as a resident scholar at AEI, drafted joint war plans for Israel and the United States ?to fatally strike the centers of radicalism in the Middle East. Israel and the United States should ? broaden the conflict to strike fatally, not merely disarm, the centers of radicalism in the region?the regimes of Damascus, Baghdad, Tripoli, Tehran, and Gaza. That would establish the recognition that fighting either the United States or Israel is suicidal."

He urged both nations to be on the lookout for a crisis, for as he wrote, “Crises can be opportunities.” Wurmser published his U.S.-Israeli war plan on Jan. 1, 2001, nine months before 9/11.

About the Perle-Feith-Wurmser cabal, author Michael Lind writes:

The radical Zionist right to which Perle and Feith belong is small in number but it has become a significant force in Republican policy-making circles. It is a recent phenomenon, dating back to the late 1970s and 1980s, when many formerly Democratic Jewish intellectuals joined the broad Reagan coalition. While many of these hawks speak in public about global crusades for democracy, the chief concern of many such ?neo-conservatives? is the power and reputation of Israel.

Right down the smokestack.

Perle today chairs the Defense Policy Board, Feith is an Undersecretary of Defense, and Wurmser is special assistant to the Undersecretary of State for Arms Control, John Bolton, who dutifully echoes the Perle-Sharon line. According to the Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz, in late February,

U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton said in meetings with Israeli officials that he has no doubt America will attack Iraq and that it will be necessary to deal with threats from Syria, Iran and North Korea afterwards.

On Jan. 26, 1998, President Clinton received a letter imploring him to use his State of the Union address to make removal of Saddam Hussein?s regime the ?aim of American foreign policy? and to use military action because ?diplomacy is failing.? Were Clinton to do that, the signers pledged, they would ?offer our full support in this difficult but necessary endeavor.? Signing the pledge were Elliott Abrams, Bill Bennett, John Bolton, Robert Kagan, William Kristol, Richard Perle, and Paul Wolfowitz. Four years before 9/11, the neocons had Baghdad on their minds.

The Wolfowitz Doctrine

In 1992, a startling document was leaked from the office of Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon. Barton Gellman of the Washington Post called it a “classified blueprint intended to help set the nation’s direction for the next century.” The Wolfowitz Memo called for a “permanent U.S. military presence on six continents” to deter all potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role. Containment, the victorious strategy of the Cold War, was to give way to an ambitious new strategy designed to “establish and protect a new order.”

[b]Though the Wolfowitz Memo was denounced and dismissed in 1992, it became American policy in the 33-page National Security Strategy (NSS) issued by President Bush on Sept. 21, 2002. Washington Post reporter Tim Reich describes it as a “watershed in U.S. foreign policy” that “reverses the fundamental principles that have guided successive Presidents for more than 50 years: containment and deterrence.”

Andrew Bacevich, a professor at Boston University, writes of the NSS that he marvels at “its fusion of breathtaking utopianism with barely disguised machtpolitik. It reads as if it were the product not of sober, ostensibly conservative Republicans but of an unlikely collaboration between Woodrow Wilson and the elder Field Marshal von Moltke.”[/b]

In confronting America’s adversaries, the paper declares, “We will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting preemptively.” It warns any nation that seeks to acquire power to rival the United States that it will be courting war with the United States:

[T]he president has no intention of allowing any nation to catch up with the huge lead the United States has opened since the fall of the Soviet Union more than a decade ago. Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military buildup in hopes of surpassing or equaling the power of the United States.

America must reconcile herself to an era of “nation-building on a grand scale, and with no exit strategy,” Robert Kagan instructs. But this Pax Americana the neocons envision bids fair to usher us into a time of what Harry Elmer Barnes called “permanent war for permanent peace.”

The Munich Card

As President Bush was warned on Sept. 20, 2001, that he will be indicted for “a decisive surrender” in the war on terror should he fail to attack Iraq, he is also on notice that pressure on Israel is forbidden. For as the neoconservatives have played the anti-Semitic card, they will not hesitate to play the Munich card as well. A year ago, when Bush called on Sharon to pull out of the West Bank, Sharon fired back that he would not let anyone do to Israel what Neville Chamberlain had done to the Czechs. Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy immediately backed up Ariel Sharon:

With each passing day, Washington appears to view its principal Middle Eastern ally’s conduct as inconvenient in much the same way London and Paris came to see Czechoslovakia’s resistance to Hitler’s offers of peace in exchange for Czech lands.

When former U.S. NATO commander Gen. George Jouwlan said the United States may have to impose a peace on Israel and the Palestinians, he, too, faced the charge of appeasement. Wrote Gaffney,

They would, presumably, go beyond Britain and France’s sell-out of an ally at Munich in 1938. The “impose a peace” school is apparently prepared to have us play the role of Hitler’s Wehrmacht as well, seizing and turning over to Yasser Arafat the contemporary Sudetenland: the West Bank and Gaza Strip and perhaps part of Jerusalem as well.

Podhoretz agreed Sharon was right in the substance of what he said but called it politically unwise to use the Munich analogy.

President Bush is on notice: Should he pressure Israel to trade land for peace, the Oslo formula in which his father and Yitzak Rabin believed, he will, as was his father, be denounced as an anti-Semite and a Munich-style appeaser by both Israelis and their neoconservatives allies inside his own Big Tent.

Yet, if Bush cannot deliver Sharon there can be no peace. And if there is no peace in the Mideast there is no security for us, ever?for there will be no end to terror. As most every diplomat and journalist who travels to the region will relate, America?s failure to be even-handed, our failure to rein in Sharon, our failure to condemn Israel?s excesses, and our moral complicity in Israel?s looting of Palestinian lands and denial of their right to self-determination sustains the anti-Americanism in the Islamic world in which terrorists and terrorism breed.

Let us conclude. The Israeli people are America?s friends and have a right to peace and secure borders. We should help them secure these rights. As a nation, we have made a moral commitment, endorsed by half a dozen presidents, which Americans wish to honor, not to permit these people who have suffered much to see their country overrun and destroyed. And we must honor this commitment.

But U.S. and Israeli interests are not identical. They often collide, and when they do, U.S. interests must prevail. Moreover, we do not view the Sharon regime as ?America?s best friend.?

Since the time of Ben Gurion, the behavior of the Israeli regime has been Jekyll and Hyde. In the 1950s, its intelligence service, the Mossad, had agents in Egypt blow up U.S. installations to make it appear the work of Cairo, to destroy U.S. relations with the new Nasser government. During the Six Day War, Israel ordered repeated attacks on the undefended USS Liberty that killed 34 American sailors and wounded 171 and included the machine-gunning of life rafts. This massacre was neither investigated nor punished by the U.S. government in an act of national cravenness.

Though we have given Israel $20,000 for every Jewish citizen, Israel refuses to stop building the settlements that are the cause of the Palestinian intifada. Likud has dragged our good name through the mud and blood of Ramallah, ignored Bush?s requests to restrain itself, and sold U.S. weapons technology to China, including the Patriot, the Phoenix air-to-air missile, and the Lavi fighter, which is based on F-16 technology. Only direct U.S. intervention blocked Israel?s sale of our AWACS system.

Israel suborned Jonathan Pollard to loot our secrets and refuses to return the documents, which would establish whether or not they were sold to Moscow. When Clinton tried to broker an agreement at Wye Plantation between Israel and Arafat, Bibi Netanyahu attempted to extort, as his price for signing, release of Pollard, so he could take this treasonous snake back to Israel as a national hero.

Do the Brits, our closest allies, behave like this?

Though we have said repeatedly that we admire much of what this president has done, he will not deserve re-election if he does not jettison the neoconservatives? agenda of endless wars on the Islamic world that serve only the interests of a country other than the one he was elected to preserve and protect.??

JTF,

While Israel is our ally, saying that the Bush admin. is beholden to Israel is poppycock.

If anything, they are beholden to us, and they know it. Thus the movement on the Palestinian issue now that the the old terrorist, Yasser Arafat, is finally out of the picture. The only movement that ever comes on the Palestinian issue is the result of U.S. pressure on Israel to make concessions Israel does not want to make.

One could argue quite successfully that the adminsitration of H.W. Bush was responsible for the removal of the Likud government of Yitzhak Shamir back in 1992 due to the threat of mild economic sanctions in the face of Shamir’s refusal to stop building in the West Bank and Gaza – that government fell, and Yitzhak Rabin’s Labor coalition government was voted in, with full cooperation promised on the settlement issue. (See Daniel Drezner, introduction to The Sanctions Paradox).

Currently the W. Bush administration has managed to get the Israelis to re-submit the basic deal that Arafat rejected in Oslo after Clinton had cajoled and threatened the Israelis into offering it – not really a policy that the Israeli government wanted to pursue.

Give me a break with the “Israel running the Neocons” crap. Hell, not even Juan Cole takes that line, and he hates Israel and the U.S.

Syria has all the incentives w/r/t this situation – Hariri was critical of Syrian occupation forces in Lebanon, and was planning to run again. He was going to be backed by the U.S. Such a development would have increased U.S. political weight in the area, a policy that Israel, a U.S. ally, would surely have favored – even under your silly theory.

The W. Bush administration’s main problem with Syria has been the acitivity on the Iraqi border – the sheltering of terrorists and former regime folks. Now there are more problems – and Syria has signaled the way it wants to go, at least for now, with its announcement of a working relationship with Iran – which makes sense both w/r/t Iraq and both countries’ displeasure at the thought of having a functioning democratic republic on their border, and due to the escalation of pressure – at U.S. behest – that is being directed at them internationally.

Do we know that Syria ordered the hit? No. But it seems a logical conclusion based on the size of the bomb and the level of security Hariri had that it was a government-level hit – especially given the contradictory pronouncements from a couple of groups claiming ties with al Queda. The fact that something like that took place in Beirut, and examining who gained and who lost, as well as the potential for an unspoken message, lends weight to the conjecture that it was Syria behind the hit.

Here are a couple editorials from the WSJ – one from the U.S. edition and one from the European edition (they both begin the same way, but they are different):

One Murder Too Many
February 16, 2005

Although no proof was readily available, many Lebanese were certain they knew who was responsible for the murder of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in Monday’s bomb attack. Hours after the blast, thousands of demonstrators gathered outside Hariri’s home, chanting “Syria is the enemy of God.”

What’s widely believed by those living under the Syrian boot wasn’t persuasive for some Middle East watchers. According to one school of thought, Damascus would not be so foolish as to further incur the wrath of the Bush administration, which is scrutinizing its sponsorship of terrorism elsewhere, particularly Iraq.

The Lebanese assumption sounds more plausible to us. Leave aside for a moment the question of whether Bashar Assad, the young dictator in Damascus, is a reasonable man. In reality, through its various terrorist proxies, Syria has launched deadly attacks on Americans for more than 20 years with impunity. Assad p?re got away with his involvement in the 1983 suicide assault on the Marines, a bombing that prompted the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Lebanon and let the Syrians consolidate their hold on the place.

His son, Bashar, has for the last two years provided active support to the Baathists who are killing Iraqis and Americans every day. He, too, hasn’t suffered any consequences. Why would it be so unreasonable for him to assume that Syria could kill the leading Lebanese opposition politician in its backyard without having to fear much more than a few days of bad press?

Let’s hope that this time Assad miscalculated. The longstanding U.S. reluctance to get really tough with Syria is difficult to understand. Whenever the U.S. exerted even the softest of diplomatic pressure, Damascus has responded. In a rare example of trans-Atlantic cooperation, France and the U.S. last September co-sponsored a U.N. resolution calling for the “withdrawal of all foreign troops” – an unnecessary euphemism for Syria’s 15,000-strong occupation force. Unfortunately, the diplomatic initiative quickly ran out of steam but it still was enough to force the Syrians to call home at least a thousand troops and make some cosmetic redeployments.

More importantly, the long-overdue international attention for the plight of the Lebanese has given the opposition there a much-needed boost. It helped forge a new coalition between the traditional Christian opposition to Syria’s rule and Druze leader Wallid Jumblatt. When the erstwhile Syrian ally and billionaire Hariri also joined their ranks, he added an important Sunni voice to this group. With just a few months before parliamentary elections, this was a powerful alliance that Damascus had to take seriously. Earlier this month, the opposition for the first time demanded a “total withdrawal” of Syrian troops. Hariri’s support for this call might have been his death sentence.

Given Syria’s ruthlessness, it is remarkable that Lebanese journalists and politicians are so vocal in their attacks on Damascus. This and the spontaneous anti-Syrian protests not only speak to the courage of the Lebanese but also show that Syria’s grip on the country is not absolute. The palpable anti-Syrian mood in the country also means that the U.S. would have true popular support for finally taking strong actions against the Syrians. The U.S. yesterday called home its ambassador, and threatened “further measures” against Damascus. That’s encouraging.

Every day, the decision to leave Damascus off the original “Axis of Evil” list looks to have been not only a rhetorical oversight but a strategic error. Whatever Washington’s ultimate plan for dealing with Damascus, it’s not working. It’s said that Syria has provided the U.S. with some actionable intelligence about al Qaeda. But in reality, Damascus is a serious threat in its own right. Together with Iran, Syria is doing its utmost to undermine American efforts in the Middle East. A democratic Iraq and peace between Israelis and Palestinians are a mortal danger to the legitimacy of the regimes in Damascus and Tehran. That’s why Syria has become an open gateway for Jihadis on their way to Iraq. That’s also why it is supporting Palestinian terror, directly and through Hezbollah.

Pressing the Syrians out of Lebanon would not only finally bring the Lebanese their much-wanted independence and democracy. It would also undermine the regime in Damascus, politically and financially. It might cut off revenues from the lucrative drug trade in Lebanon.

An example of what can be achieved if diplomacy is backed up with a serious military threat has already been demonstrated by Turkey. Despite American demands to close some 12 terrorist organizations, they have kept their headquarters open in Damascus. Only the Kurdish PKK had to pack up its operations. That problem was practically solved over night when Istanbul threatened Damascus with war in the late 1990s. Perhaps Washington might borrow from the Turkish playbook and remind Assad what happened to his Baathist colleague in Baghdad two years ago.


Syria’s Dead Hand
February 16, 2005; Page A14

Although no proof is readily available, it didn’t take long for many Lebanese to draw their own conclusions about who’s responsible for Monday’s murder of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Thousands of demonstrators gathered outside Mr. Hariri’s home, chanting “Syria is the enemy of God.” They should know: Lebanon has been living under an illegal Syrian occupation for close to 30 years.

The Syrians, of course, were quick to deny any wrongdoing. Additionally, the Syrians deny they are providing safe haven and material support to the Iraqi insurgents. They deny they host anything other than “press offices” for Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad is even on record wondering whether al Qaeda really exists.

In other words, Syria’s credibility isn’t exactly tops on this score, which is one reason why the Bush Administration recalled U.S. Ambassador Margaret Scobey to Washington for consultations yesterday. “We want to send a stiff message to the Syrian government,” said a senior State Department official quoted by Reuters.

We’ll have to see whether the stiff message goes beyond the mere announcing of it. Last year, President Bush signed the Syria Accountability Act, imposing trade and travel restrictions. But since the U.S. barely conducts business with Syria, the effect of the Act was negligible. In January, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage went to Damascus, ostensibly to read Bashar Assad the riot act. But we’re told his main message was a demand that the Syrians hand over Saddam’s half-brother Sabawi Ibrahim Hassan (a.k.a. Sabawi the Tikriti), who is almost certainly supporting the insurgency from Syria. Damascus has yet to cough him up, though now perhaps it might in an act of token cooperation.

A better approach might begin by making Ambassador Scobey’s recall permanent. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice could also place Mr. Assad in the same diplomatic quarantine the Administration imposed on Yasser Arafat in his later years. The problem with saying you want to “send a stiff message” is that it means you intend to go no further, a point the Assads of the world understand very well.

A second step would be a diplomatic campaign to end Syria’s occupation of Lebanon. So far, the issue gets episodic lip service from U.S. spokesmen. But if the Administration wants to prove its commitment to spreading democracy and freedom in the Middle East, it cannot ignore Lebanon, especially now that the risk of another civil war there seems remote. It would also help if the U.S. demanded that Syria and Lebanon honor their U.N. obligations to police their border with Israel, instead of permitting Hezbollah to use it as a launching pad for attacks on Israel.

Most importantly, the Administration has to be prepared to take action against Syria directly. Reports on the weekend were that U.S. Predator drones are flying over Iran, searching for evidence of illegal nuclear activity. But American interests would be no less well-served by using Predators to locate and destroy camps in Syria from which the Baathists are training terrorist recruits for service in Iraq.

We are old enough to remember when Beirut was the tolerant and cosmopolitan capital of a multiethnic and functional Arab democracy. If we can make democracy work in Iraq, surely the same can be done in Lebanon – provided we work to remove Syria’s dead hand.

A good round-up on Syria overall – it seems that if indeed Syria is culpable in this, the short-term effects are negative and it was a very bad decision:

http://www.danieldrezner.com/archives/001895.html

It’s getting uncomfortable for Syria

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, I wrote the following at TNR Online ( http://www.danieldrezner.com/policy/democracy.htm ):

[i]The area specialists aren't necessarily wrong; democratizing Iraq won't be easy. But the conditions aren't nearly as barren as these experts suggest, and the potential upside is enormous. If a democratic transition were to succeed in Iraq, then Syria, suddenly surrounded by established democracies (Israel and Turkey) and emerging democracies (Iraq and Jordan), might start to feel nervous as well. [/i]

Note that Lebanon was not mentioned in that graf, because that country has essentially been a Syrian fiefdom since the end of the Lebanese Civil War.

However, the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri yesterday highlights the increasing crunch Syria now faces. David Hirst – who’s covered the Middle East for over forty years – explains what’s going on in the Guardian ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,1414875,00.html ):

[i]It is Syria, with only one real ally left in the world, Iran, that is on the defensive. So are its Lebanese allies, inside and outside the regime. The conflict is an outgrowth of American strategies in the Middle East, from the war on terror to regime change, democratisation and the invasion of Iraq. Syria is not a member of President Bush's "axis of evil", but, with Iran, it is increasingly targeted as a villain. It is regularly charged, for example, with aiding and abetting the insurgency in Iraq, interfering with the Arab-Israel peace process and sponsoring the Hizbullah militia in Lebanon. The Hizbullah are in turn accused by Israel of aiding and abetting Hamas.

For decades now Syria has been losing card after card in a steadily weakening strategic hand. Its domination over Lebanon is one of the last and most vital of them. Ultimately it will perhaps be a bargaining counter in some grand deal to be struck with America that secures the Ba'athist regime's future in the evolving new Middle East order.

Conversely, however, Lebanon, as a platform that Syria's adversaries exploit against it, is liable to turn into a source of great weakness, if not an existential threat. The Ba'athists, now under siege in so many ways, feel that they are struggling desperately to keep their grip on Lebanon.

But the methods Syria uses, such as political intimidation and backstage manipulation by its intelligence services, seem, if anything, only to be backfiring against it....

Down the years the Lebanese have attributed many political assassinations to Syria, but never dared say so publicly. This time, they have. [/i]

Rami G. Khouri, writing in the Beirut-based Daily Star, agrees on the tectonic political shifts unleashed by the assassination ( http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=5&article_id=12714 ):

[i]The speed, clarity and intensity with which Lebanese opposition groups Monday blamed Syria and its allied Lebanese government for the killing spoke volumes about the troubled Syrian-Lebanese axis being the central political context in which this whole matter must be analyzed....

The events of Monday have unleashed political forces that could transform both Lebanon and, via the Syrian connection, other parts of the Middle East. The already intense backlash to the assassination may lead to an accelerated Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, and faster reform movements inside both Lebanon and Syria.

The fact that within just hours of the murder five distinct parties were singled out as possible culprits - Israel, Syria, Lebanese regime partisans, mafia-style gangs, and anti-Saudi, anti-U.S. Islamist terrorists - also points to the wider dilemma that disfigures Lebanese and Arab political culture in general: the resort to murderous and destabilizing violence as a chronic option for those who vie for power, whether as respectable government officials, established local warlords, or freelance political thugs. [/i]

The New York Times’ Steven Weisman and Hassan Fattah report that the assassination itself has already made life more difficult for Syria ( http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/16/international/middleeast/16lebanon.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1108530424-0hjlnqvWNU7mpE2yCiuq2g&pagewanted=all&position= ):

[i]The Bush administration recalled its ambassador to Syria on Tuesday to protest what it sees as Syria's link to the murder of the former prime minister of Lebanon, as violent anti-Syrian protests erupted in Beirut and several other Lebanese cities.

At the United Nations, the administration also demanded that Syria withdraw its troops from Lebanon, and the Security Council called for an urgent investigation into the killing of the former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, who died Monday with 13 others when a huge car bomb blew up his motorcade in downtown Beirut....

In Beirut, large crowds went to the site of the explosion, which investigators said appeared to be the work of a suicide attacker who managed to drive in between cars of Mr. Hariri's motorcade. Another theory was that the bomb had been placed in a sewer or under the pavement.

Though there were some in Lebanon who argued that the murder might have been engineered by Al Qaeda, presumably to punish Mr. Hariri for his ties to Saudi Arabia, demonstrators mobilized throughout the country to blame Syria. In Damascus, Syrian officials continued to vigorously deny involvement in the explosion.

In Sidon, Mr. Hariri's hometown, Syrian workers were attacked by dozens of protesters before the police intervened, and hundreds of Lebanese marched with black banners and pictures of the slain leader. A mob also attacked a Beirut office of Syria's ruling Baath Party.

Thousands of protesters also massed in the northern port city of Tripoli, according to Reuters. [/i]

Megan K. Stack and Rania Abouzeid have additional reporting in the Los Angeles Times ( http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-syria16feb16,0,2210147.story?coll=la-home-headlines ). And Greg Djerejian has a post up on this at Belgravia Dispatch ( http://www.belgraviadispatch.com/archives/004367.html ).

An Arab perspective:

The ramifications of Hariri’s assassination

By Rami G. Khouri
Daily Star staff
Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a massive bombing in central Beirut on Monday sends a loud and deadly message - but the nature, origin, destination and intent of the message all remain painfully unclear to many observers. What is crystal clear, though, is that this crime will send out important political ripples in at least three dimensions.

The two most immediate dimensions are internal Lebanese politics and the Syrian-Lebanese relationship. The third dimension is the relationship between Syria and external powers - the U.S. and France most notably, the UN and the Europeans more broadly. The speed, clarity and intensity with which Lebanese opposition groups Monday blamed Syria and its allied Lebanese government for the killing spoke volumes about the troubled Syrian-Lebanese axis being the central political context in which this whole matter must be analyzed. That became obvious immediately after the bombing, as affirmed by the behavior of the three principal protagonists - the Syrian government, the Lebanese opposition and the United States government.

The events of Monday have unleashed political forces that could transform both Lebanon and, via the Syrian connection, other parts of the Middle East. The already intense backlash to the assassination may lead to an accelerated Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, and faster reform movements inside both Lebanon and Syria.

The fact that within just hours of the murder five distinct parties were singled out as possible culprits - Israel, Syria, Lebanese regime partisans, mafia-style gangs, and anti-Saudi, anti-U.S. Islamist terrorists - also points to the wider dilemma that disfigures Lebanese and Arab political culture in general: the resort to murderous and destabilizing violence as a chronic option for those who vie for power, whether as respectable government officials, established local warlords, or freelance political thugs.

The madness is not just in the murder of a fine man and a true Lebanese and Arab patriot; it is in the ongoing legacy of rampant and often brutal political violence that at once defines, disfigures and demeans political elites and perhaps even Arab society as a whole. That madness has now been even more deeply institutionalized and anchored in the modern history of this region due to the impact of the American-British invasion of Iraq and the new wave of violence it has spurred. One of the reasons why the Lebanese-Syrian relationship has become increasingly contentious in the past year is the consequence of American pressure on Syria to be more cooperative on Iraq. The circle of violence that engulfs the Middle East is as vast and intertwined as it is senselessly destructive.

But this murder was not primarily about our wider Arab dilemma. Regardless of who carried it out, the murder and its fallout have focused attention on a tortured Lebanese-Syrian relationship that is problematic in its own right, and that has become the crucible for testing new forms of American and Western political intervention in the Arab world.

It was not at all surprising that opposition forces in Lebanon quickly came together and openly pinned responsibility for the assassination on Syria and its allied Lebanese government. For the most significant political development in Lebanon in recent months, in my view, has been the Lebanese opposition’s coalescing around an increasingly clear and sharp rejection of Syria’s military presence in the country and its political interference in domestic Lebanese affairs. This position became more focused and vocal last autumn after the Syrian-backed extension of Lebanese President Emile Lahoud’s term by an additional three years. American-French diplomatic pressure on Syria and the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 1559 demanding Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon are all part of that same thrust.

This escalated almost instantly to a new level of intensity and importance in the hours after Hariri’s death: The opposition not only blamed Syria, but also held the Lebanese government responsible and asked it not to participate in Hariri’s funeral Tuesday. In Arab political culture, I cannot think of a more acerbic, angry and insulting gesture than asking the incumbent political leadership to stay away from the funeral of a leading statesman who almost single-handedly (working with the Syrians!) rebuilt Beirut and Lebanon. The Lebanese opposition has taken its battle with the Lebanese and Syrian governments to a new level, with unpredictable consequences.

As fascinating as the opposition’s speedy accusations against Syria was Syria’s equally swift rejection of the accusations. Damascus marshaled an unprecedented array of its officials who spoke to the mass media simultaneously on three continents, and who pointed the finger at Israel and others who are accused of wanting to destabilize Lebanon. Not losing a beat or a step, the U.S. State Department and White House weighed in at the same moment with their not-very-veiled linkage of Hariri’s killing with the need for Lebanon to enjoy total sovereignty from Syrian influence and control.

Investigations may or may not identify and prosecute the killers of Hariri, as was the case in half a dozen other assassinations of Lebanese leaders in recent decades. Despite the quick accusations against Syria, the regime in Damascus, like all other accused parties, will get its moment in the court of public opinion, and in the deliberations of the UN Security Council, where the contested Syrian-Lebanese relationship is likely to be debated. The reality now is that Hariri’s assassination, regardless of who did it, has vastly speeded up and intensified the efforts of Lebanese political forces that are demanding that Syria get its troops and political operatives out of Lebanon.

Rami G. Khouri writes weekly for The Daily Star