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13 May 2015

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b

Pat: "The Israelis want this? They have gone mad. If such a scheme should succeed the Izzies would have a jihadi state facing them on the Golan Heights. "

Yes, they want it. The son of Ariel Sharon in Ynet
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4656097,00.html
/header/
Analysis: If the Syrian leader is toppled, Israel would have Islamic State on its doorstep, but it wouldn't have to face it alone; it would also mean the end of Hezbollah and leave the Golan permanently in Israel's hands.
/endheader/

turcopolier

b

I take your point (or Sharon's). IMO this is yet further evidence of the short sightedness that has characterized Izzie strategery forever. They are always extremely limited in their vision and focused on those they have hated for a long time. A jihadi state on their northern border would be an existential threat to them in a way that the Assads and HB have never been. pl

oofda

Sharon says "Isreal wouldn't have to face it (Islamic State) alone?" Who is going to be with them, the U.S., EU countries?
As noted, the Izzies will find Islamic State mush worse than Hezbollah.

JerseyJeffersonian

Colonel, and All,

Apologies for the somewhat off-thread interjection here, but I just learned of the passing of a journalist, William Pfaff, who not only didn't drink the Kool-Aid with the requisite gusto expected of the "smart and savvy" (like our David Ignatius), but instead examined the make-up of the Kool-Aid for its toxicity to the US and to the broader world. This is a link to an encomium to Mr. Pfaff over at antiwar.com:

http://antiwar.com/blog/2015/05/11/william-pfaff-the-pundit-who-hated-militarism-and-war/

Sadly, his was an isolated voice, increasingly crying in the wilderness. RIP to a true son of the Republic.

Abu Sinan

Short sighted indeed. They are the same ones who helped found and fund Hamas as a religious counterweight to the secular PLO. How did that one work out for them?

William R. Cumming

Thanks P.L. for this analysis!

Charles I

As if Hezbullah, never mind Hamas, will just go quietly. Would it be to Israel's benefit for the House of Saud to be consumed as well?

Patrick Bahzad

PL,

Outstanding comment on Ignatius and the whole self deluded talk about ghost armies and moderate insurgents. I'm still flabbergasted at the ability of some DC vetted journalists and "experts" to distort the facts so much they almost seem meaningless ... You know JaN is some kind of AQ affiliated group, but nothing to worry about sure ... These are the same people who were killing US military in Iraq and Afghanistan ... Some of their ideologues and strategists drew the blueprint for attacks on the USS cole, the U.S. embassy bombings in Africa or the beheading of David Pearle. And wasn't there something about 9/11 ? But if these guys split up from the main body of AQ, maybe take up a new name like provisional AQ as opposed to historic AQ, that's gonna make all the difference ! They will be your friends and never turn against you ... You can bet your shirt on that ! I mean did you turn against you in Libya after the west helped them topple gaddafi ? Sure not, or did they ?
David Ignatius and the whole crowd around him live in lalaland ... Which means they're basically crazy and potentially dangerous !

Patrick Bahzad

One comment on the Israeli angle. They're playing a very dangerous game here. The baseline is divide and conquer, so to speak. Break up any large size opponent that could get in their way ... Iraq is out of the picture. Gaddafi is gone. The Palestinians are divided. Breaking apart Syria would be taking care of the last of their long term adversaries. Lebanon would be neutralized and Hezbollah in a much more difficult but not untenable spot.
That would make up for loosing all their peripheral allies as there wouldn't be any close neighboring country posing an existential threat. There would be chaos, murder and destruction but it Would be kept under an acceptable Level. That's the idea.
As has been mentioned already it was also an idea to weaken the PLO by promoting Hamas ... Brilliant plan ! But sort of worked out, for now.
The latest news in gaza however is that ISIS is starting to recruit and Create cells there until time is ripe for them to take over from a now discredited Hamas leadership. We're heading for interesting times no doubt !

different clue

b,

The Israelis in power have been mad for some time. The sane Israelis began losing power when they failed to mount a "civil war" response to the civil war action of assassinating Rabin. They have been a minority for some time now.

Would the right kind of outside support for them and orchestrated outside undermining of the Likud-and-further-right leadership tilt the political battlefield in the sane minority's favor?

different clue

Colonel Lang,

It remains my feeling that from the secret Oslo negotiations till his death that Rabin (and rising numbers of Rabinists) had advanced from strategery to strategy. A majority of Israeli voters decided to trust Rabin and the Rabinists to carry out that strategy to a Lesser Israel and Lesser Palestine conclusion. Certainly the Likudists thought so and killed Rabin to stop it. After which the Israelis reverted back to strategery, it still seems to me.

mbrenner

"A tricky problem is that the rebels have been fighting alongside a group called Jabhat al-Nusra, which is an affiliate of al-Qaeda. Sources said Tuesday that it’s likely that in coming days a Jabhat al-Nusra faction will split publicly from al-Qaeda and join the Army of Conquest."

A tricky problem? No - no problem. Just pronounce the new Testament of Faith Shahadah "Democracy is Divine, the One and Only political Creed; Democracy the Eternal, Absolute; There is none like it"

Once in Damascus: "'ašhadu 'al-lā ilāha illā-llāhu wa 'ašhadu 'anna muħammadan rasūlu-llāh"

It is permissible to pronounce a false vow, I believe, to do so under duress if it advances the cause of Islam.

Stupidity in Washington nowadays has become like poverty in India: just when you believe you have seen the very worst, you discover even more abject destitution.

elkern

I think Israel discounts the threat of any fundamentalist Islamic state, and for good reason (sorta): for the same reasons that KSA is not a credible strategic threat (military or economic).

Technical competency is negatively correlated with religious orthodoxy. Israel may pretend that all Arabs are dumb, but that's BS. Baathist countries proved themselves capable of designing and building missiles (AND hospitals), which is precisely why they were targetted. KSA buys everything, builds nothing.

Iran has maintained a strong technical class, even while being largely dominated by a religious bureaucracy. Can IS pull that off? I doubt it; they couldn't resist killing all the geese (smart people) who lay the golden eggs (ideas).

But the risk with IS is that they would (will?) take over KSA someday, and then they could buy whatever weaponry they want. I guess the current Israeli "leadership" is kicking that can down the road. Not suprising, given that they grew in a constant state of emergency.

Babak Makkinejad

They are not short-sighted; they live for the moment and they know that there is no strategic accommodation with the Muslim World in in sight; in my opinion.

turcopolier

Babak

Yes, they are short sighted. They could split off and neutralize many of their opponents. pl

JerseyJeffersonian

All,

One further thought on a corrupted - and corrupting - press and its minions.

Thomas Jefferson was well aware of the malign influence that such a press can exert on the ability of the people of a republic to formulate judgments based on credible evidence (and also to reasonably extrapolate from sketchy, yet still suggestive, evidence), and thus to maintain their agency in the governance of the nation. He said:

"The most effectual engines for [pacifying a nation] are the public papers... [A despotic] government always [keeps] a kind of standing army of newswriters who, without any regard to truth or to what should be like truth, [invent] and put into the papers whatever might serve the ministers. This suffices with the mass of the people who have no means of distinguishing the false from the true paragraphs of a newspaper." --Thomas Jefferson to G. K. van Hogendorp, Oct. 13, 1785. (*) ME 5:181, Papers 8:632

Adjust this statement to reflect contemporary realities which include not only the public papers, but also radio and television (especially with the recent prevalence of the "news cycle" relentlessly pounding home kaleidoscopically shifting propaganda), and you can see that the possibilities for generating (intentionally ill-informed) "consent" have only become more baleful.

Jefferson concludes his thought with the observation that such willful obfuscation puts the citizens at a well-nigh insuperable disadvantage in the task of discriminating between truth and falsehood.

confusedponderer

PB,
there is nothing potential about their dangerousness, it is manifest.

confusedponderer

The next potential enemy on Israel's laundry list would then be, as long as Erdogan and his party reign, Turkey.

For so long, expect Israel to continue supporting Kurdish independence (and irredentist tendencies with regard to Turkey proper) and pushing the Armenian genocide as a nuisance issue for Turkey. They'll also try to deepen ties with Greece.

David Habakkuk

All,

It has always seemed to me that – however massive its short-term, and even continuing, superiority in technological sophistication and military power – the long-term prospects of a Jewish settler state among Arab and Muslim populations who do not want it there must be precarious.

The strategic problem for Israel then becomes that of working out which, among possible options, is the least worst in terms of maximising the possibilities of making one's way through to a status-quo which has reasonable prospects of being viable in the long term.

The hope underlying the 1996 'Clean Break' paper was that the problems involved in trading land for peace could be avoided by remodelling the Middle East – with the assistance of the massive military power of the United States, and Machiavellian manoeuvrings. The end result was supposed to be, as the authors concluded, that 'Israel – proud, wealthy, solid, and strong – would be the basis of a truly new and peaceful Middle East.'

In the event however, the hope that a combination of American military power and Machiavellian manoeuvrings could bash the Middle East into an Israel-friendly shape turned out delusional. Its centrepiece, the toppling of Saddam Hussein, eliminated what was actually a defanged Iraqi nationalist/Sunni dictatorship, at the cost of empowering both the Islamic Republic of Iran and its allies, and also jihadists.

Among the many dotty European ideas neoconservatives imported into American debates, few are more sheerly stupid than Carl Schmitt's notion that all true politics is based on the distinction between friend and enemy. Characteristically, relations with other political actors are a complex mixture of competing and complementary interests and perspectives.

A key part of the art of politics involves prioritising. Critically, it involves being alert to the fact that changing circumstances can make actors with whom one believed one could not collaborate useful, and actors with whom one thought one could do business so dangerous that the only appropriate response is an all-out attempt to destroy them. Sometimes, moreover, circumstances change very rapidly.

An example: when, as 'rkka' pointed out some time back, following the German occupation of Prague in 1939 the British service chiefs came round to arguing for an alliance with the Soviet Union, it was not because they had decided that Stalin was warm and cuddly. It was a response to a rapidly changing situation, one which unfortunately came too late – clear thinking earlier about the capabilities and intentions of the (alike ghastly) Nazi and Soviet tyrannies, and on they threats they might or might not pose to British interests, might have averted the Nazi-Soviet Pact and what followed.

Clear thinking on British – and more generally European – interests, and I think also American, now points to a range of conclusions which have been discussed in detail here on SST. It seems crystal clear that the jihadists are a deadly threat, and that the 'Shia Crescent' is nothing of the kind – and indeed, that we have a strong common interest with them against the jihadists.

Equally, it has become amply evident that projects of 'regime change' that end up producing chaos have represented a kind of machine-gunning ourselves in the foot, particularly as chaos is an environment in which jihadists thrive.

An important further conclusion, however, is that the way that the Israelis and their American 'amen corner' appear to be defining their own response to the ongoing flood of changes precipitated by the Iraq War is now diametrically opposed to that suggested by any reasonably objective view of American and European interests.

It seems however that very many in Israel – as the article by Gilad Sharon to which 'b' linked illustrates – have the reverse order of priorities to that which makes sense for Europe and the United States. Often chaos in Syria has seemed a 'least worst' option to them, and as the article illustrates, many are so terrified of the 'Shia Crescent' that they have come to prefer the jihadists.

If indeed Ignatius is a mouthpiece for the CIA and the Obama White House, it appears that, very much in the style of Neville Chamberlain in the summer of 1939, they think they can duck out of hard choices. Just as he thought that Britain could 'contain' Germany without a radical change in policy towards the Soviet Union, they think they can combat jihadists effectively while still trying to topple the Syrian regime.

However, from a column entitled 'Go Ahead, Ruin My Day' published by Tom Friedman back in May suggested that some American Zionists may share the belief that, when push comes to shove, jihadists are a lesser threat than Iran.

(See http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/18/opinion/go-ahead-ruin-my-day.html?_r=0 .)

As so often, the changes that matter in people's perceptions are commonly difficult to gauge, in part because they may not say what they think, and also because at the outset changes in perception are often very imperfectly articulated in people's own minds. Moreover, in recent years it has quite patently been the case that political elites in Britain, as elsewhere, only respond sluggishly to changes of feeling in the country.

But the simple truth here is that an increasing number of people here perceive the activities of the 'Israeli Lobby' both in the United States and here as actively dangerous for their country's interests. Among some doubtless their views may be tinged with anti-Semitism. But in very many cases, it simply reflects conclusions to which a reasonably objective analysis of the facts leads.

William R. Cumming

The MSM are now about almost anything but how, where, what, when, who, and why IMO!

This is the considered intent of the corporate owners who hide in the shadows.

One of the best example is WAPO before its sale to BEZOS. 70% of total revenues came from exploiting students through its profit making KAPLAN arm.

No shame no shame in the MSM!

Yes I have long been a SCOLD!

Ishmael Zechariah

CP,

Israel has been aiding the kurds for quite a while. There have been (un) substantiated reports of izzie operatives/trainers with pkk who suffered headaches during some Turkish ops about a decade ago. Most secular Turks find the izzies abhorrent and regard tayyip's "actions" against them as theater. Patrick Bahzad can tell you more if he chooses to but the kurds have been "aided" by a lot of folks; even the Italians were in the game with their usual panache.

Ishmael Zechariah

Castellio

David, to be honest, although I tend to agree with you, I want to point out that the alternate interpretation is still pretty sound.

The Israeli policy of sowing division and chaos in Palestine itself, and then in neighboring countries, backed up by surprising military strikes, has been practiced for a very long time. It was the military policy that led to the initial formation and recognition of the Israeli state. It helped bring down Nasser. That the strike force was 'contracted out" (so to speak) to the US, and that it was a bad deal for the US is all true, but the discussion of Palestine as a state of even 20% of the original land is now moribund. Annexation continues apace.

Rabin was killed. The use of division and polarization in Israel itself is a practiced tactic. No-one denies that the Settlers "run" the state.

You may see a kind of logical limit to that approach, but what is the limit "on the ground"?

The Israelis are not frightened by the Black Flag, especially if they are fighting Hezbollah and Assad. Why not let them kill each other? Better yet, why not attack while they are busy fighting each other?

Is the limit the abandonment by the US? Is that anything approaching a fact at this point? Or is it even less of an historical option than it was in the war of 1967 (and the attack on the Liberty), the invasion of Lebanon in 82, or the death of Rabin - all turning points where no one took the off ramp?

It's going to take a lot more than anyone's moral discomfort to change the trajectory and practices of the Israeli government.

Just paint me, despite our shared "reasonable objective analysis", as very concerned.

jerseycityjoan

All,

"Another potential game-changer is a new U.S. willingness to support a no-fly zone along the Turkey-Syria border. This haven, backed by U.S. air power, would allow some refugees to return home ..."

Could any of this have to do with the surge of would-be immigrants going from the Middle East and trying to get into Europe? If Syrians felt safer they'd be less likely to attempt this trip. But while many of the people taking boats are Syrians, many more are not.

Still, the Europeans have tried to get NATO and us involved in the "stop the migrants before they get here" plans they are setting up and so far I don't think we've said anything officially about this. Are we trying to convince them our help won't be necessary, that the situation will calm down on its own? I can't imagine we want to take a major role in monitor boats going from the Middle East to Europe, not on a long-term basis. But then the no-fly zone could last for years too.

VietnamVet

Reasoned analysis like this are why I click in everyday and read each post to the end. I continued to be astonished at the blindness in Washington DC at not seeing that the pursuit of regime changes by training and supplying weapons to Jihadists and Neo-Nazis will not turn out well for American citizens or for that matter, Western Civilization.

This policy insures that the quarter century war in Iraq that now includes Syria will engulf the Middle East. Mecca will fall to the Army of Conquest; the real true believers. China and Russia have been forced to form a Eurasian Axis. Europe is being split apart by new Iron/Bamboo Curtain unless they look to the East for their future and energy supplies.

Each is the Monster of Unintended Consequences.

Castellio

This link is good for info on who is from where: http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21649488-those-peril

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