July 17, 2006
|A Clean Break||Palestine/Middle East|
Sometimes people do exactly what they say they're going to do. The Project for a New American Century comes to mind.
In 1996, a group of American neoconservative supporters of Israel's Likud party, including Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, among others, authored a policy paper for Likud candidate Benjamin Netanyahu calling for A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm. It advocated the removal of Saddam Hussein, followed by Israel's seizure of "the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran." The goal of the latter initiative was to be a "rollback" of Syria and the eventual end to Syria's "territorial integrity" — which is to say, an end to Syria — and "a redrawing of the map of the Middle East." Excerpts:
Syria challenges Israel on Lebanese soil. An effective approach, and one with which American can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon, including by...striking Syrian military targets in Lebanon, and should that prove insufficient, striking at select targets in Syria proper. [...]
Given the nature of the regime in Damascus, it is both natural and moral that Israel abandon the slogan "comprehensive peace" and move to contain Syria, drawing attention to its weapons of mass destruction program, and rejecting "land for peace" deals on the Golan Heights. [...]
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. [...]
...Syria enters this conflict with potential weaknesses...Damascus fears that the 'natural axis' with Israel on one side, central Iraq and Turkey on the other, and Jordan, in the center would squeeze and detach Syria from the Saudi Peninsula. For Syria, this could be the prelude to a redrawing of the map of the Middle East which would threaten Syria's territorial integrity. [...]
Israel's new agenda can signal a clean break by...reestablishing the principle of preemption, rather than retaliation... [Italics in the original; bold added]
It's all going according to plan. Well, sort of. The paper's authors were unlikely to foresee that all this would be going on with US forces caught in the middle between Syria and Iran, pinned down in a protracted war in Iraq. With US forces caught in the middle, it's hard to see how the plan can come to fruition without the US being pulled into a wider war.
Meanwhile, people insist on thinking that a well-meaning Israel is only reacting to the kidnapping of three of its troops as it proceeds methodically to dismantle the civil infrastructure of Lebanon. Some people just don't know when they're getting played.