Syria: Israeli Foreign Policy by Proxy

What’s happening in Syria has nothing to do with the supposed use of chemical weapons, and everything to do with the imperial ambitions of the state of Israel, which is wielding its power through its infamous lobby, to use American might by proxy to carry out its objectives in the region.

Among the leading neoconservatives in this cabal has been Michael Ledeen, holder of the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute and a founding member of JINSA. As Robert Lind wrote in a 2003 article for Salon: “the major link between the conservative think tanks and the Israel lobby is the Washington-based and Likud-supporting Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), which co-opts many non-Jewish defense experts by sending them on trips to Israel.”[1]

Already in 2002, Ledeen was pronouncing that an invasion of Iraq would follow, and that it would be a good thing, because, it will give “us” a chance to “ensure the fulfillment of the democratic revolution.” Summing up his Machiavellian motives, Ledeen clarified, “Paradoxically, we advanced the cause of freedom by violently undemocratic means.” Ledeen further explained:

 

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… We must destroy them to advance our historic mission.[2]

 

Evidently, the countries Ledeen listed in the Middle East do not present a “clear and present” danger to the United States. All these abstract articulations were designed to hide the ignoble pursuit of Israeli foreign policy objectives, as outlined in A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm (commonly known as the “Clean Break” report), a policy document that was prepared in 1996 by a study group led by Richard Perle for Benjamin Netanyahu, then Prime Minister of Israel.

The report explained a new approach to solving Israel’s security problems in the Middle East through an appeal to “western values.” Among the policies proposed was, “rather than pursuing a ‘comprehensive peace’ with the entire Arab world, Israel should work jointly with Jordan and Turkey to “contain, destabilize, and roll-back” those entities that are threats to all three.” On how to address these threats, it recommends, “Israel’s new agenda can signal a clean break by abandoning a policy which assumed exhaustion and allowed strategic retreat by reestablishing the principle of preemption, rather than retaliation alone and by ceasing to absorb blows to the nation without response.”

Preemptive action was considered required in Lebanon because of an agreement between Israel and the US that Iranian nuclear plants would eventually have to be bombed. If that were to happen, Iran would use the Hezbollah in Lebanon to attack Israel. Thus Hezbollah would have to be disarmed and Israel would use force as soon as a pretext became available.[3] Similarly, because Iraq “could affect the strategic balance in the Middle East profoundly” Israel should back Jordan in its efforts to redefine Iraq, and by “supporting King Hussein by providing him with some tangible security measures to protect his regime against Syrian subversion; encouraging—through influence in the U.S. business community—investment in Jordan to structurally shift Jordan’s economy away from dependence on Iraq; and diverting Syria’s attention by using Lebanese opposition elements to destabilize Syrian control of Lebanon.”

Political commentator Phyllis Bennis pointed to the obvious similarities between the strategies outlined in the Clean Break and the subsequent 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict.[4] Already in September 2006, Taki of The American Conservative reported:

 

…recently, Netanyahu suggested that President Bush had assured him Iran will be prevented from going nuclear. I take him at his word. Netanyahu seems to be the main mover in America’s official adoption of the 1996 white paper A Clean Break, authored by him and American fellow neocons, which aimed to aggressively remake the strategic environments of Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran. As they say in boxing circles, three down, two to go.

 

Just prior to America’s invasion of Iraq, Brian Whitaker had reported in The Guardian in 2002 that “with several of the Clean Break paper's authors now holding key positions in Washington, the plan for Israel to transcend its foes by reshaping the Middle East looks a good deal more achievable today than it did in 1996. Americans may even be persuaded to give up their lives to achieve it.”[5] Speaking to the grandiose ambitions of the neoconservative, as Michael Ledeen outlined:

 

Our unexpectedly quick and impressive victory in Afghanistan is a prelude to a much broader war, which will in all likelihood transform the Middle East for at least a generation, and reshape the politics of many other countries around the world.[6]

 

Similarly, Richard Perle's 2004 book An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror, coauthored with fellow neoconservative David Frum, son of well-known Canadian journalist and broadcaster Barbara Frum, defends the invasion of Iraq and described important neoconservative aspirations, including ways to abandon all Israeli-Palestinian peace processes, invade Syria, Iran’s strategic ally in the region, Syria. Perle and Frum conclude, shamelessly: “For us, terrorism remains the great evil of our time, and the war against this evil, our generation’s great cause… There is no middle way for Americans: it is victory or holocaust.”[7]

Likewise, Joshua Muravchik, a self-confessed “dyed-in-the-wool, true-believer neocon,” outlined the pretext for America spreading “democracy” at the point of a gun. Speaking for the neoconservatives:

 

We agreed on the need to address the root causes of terrorism, but for us that root cause was the political culture of the Middle East. Political culture did not mean Islam. Rather, it meant a habit of conducting politics by means of violence. At the time of the attacks, not one of the region's rulers (apart from Israel's) had been freely elected to his post. All relied on force and intimidation.

The neocon solution involved overhauling the way the region thinks about politics so that terrorism would no longer seem reasonable. This was a wildly ambitious idea, of course, but similar transformations had occurred in Europe and much of Asia over the previous half-century. If democracy had shown its potency in discouraging war elsewhere, it stood to reason that it also could be a cure to terrorism in the Middle East.[8]

 

The eradication of terrorism and the imposition of democracy is of course a pretext. The numerous regimes of the Middle East are clearly not democratic, but corrupt and often brutal. However, these countries all originated in divisions imposed by the British and French after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire following World War I, and often in support of Zionist ambitions. And, these puppet regimes have been headed by dictators who have all achieved and have since maintained power over the years through American support.

The upheavals of the Arab Spring fall within the context of George W. Bush’s Greater Middle East Project, proclaimed after 2001 to bring “democracy” and “liberal free market” economic reform to the Islamic countries from Afghanistan to Morocco.[9] As William Engdahl was reporting in April 2011, “contrary to the carefully-cultivated impression that the Obama Administration is trying to retain the present regime of Mubarak, Washington in fact is orchestrating the Egyptian as well as other regional regime changes from Syria to Yemen to Jordan and well beyond in a process some refer to as ‘creative destruction.’”[10]

In advance of the several revolutions of the Arab Spring, as the Wall Street Journal was already reporting in 2007, the State Department’s intelligence unit organized a conference of Middle East experts to examine the merits of engagement, particularly in Egypt and Syria, with the Muslim Brotherhood, the CIA’s primary tool of destabilization in the Middle East. According to officials, US diplomats and politicians have also met with legislators from parties connected to the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq, to hear their views on democratic reforms in the Middle East.[11]

As Engdahl reveals, the template for such covert regime change was developed by the Pentagon, US intelligence and various think-tanks such as the ubiquitous RAND Corporation, Freedom House and US government-funded NGO, National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The NED is active in all the countries that have experienced “spontaneous” popular uprisings: Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Sudan. As the architect and first head of the NED, Allen Weinstein told the Washington Post in 1991, “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”[12]

Similarly, on behalf of the Americans, armed and Saudi-funded Salafis have been brought in to help destabilize the government of Syria.[13] American subversive activities in Syria have been coordinated through a Muslim Brotherhood-connected organization, the National Salvation Front (NSF), which unites liberal democrats, Kurds, Marxists and former Syrian officials in an effort to transform President Assad’s regime. The founders of the NSF were Ali Sadreddin Al Bayanouni who took over as president of the Brotherhood’s Syrian arm in 1979, and Abdul Halim Khaddam, Syria’s vice president until 2005 who criticized Assad’s rule and fled to Paris.

Initial contact between the White House and the NSF was forged by Najib Ghadbian, a University of Arkansas political scientist, who suggested the US work with his group and its contacts, including the Muslim Brotherhood. Ghadbian began meeting with the deputies of prominent neoconservative and former Iran-Contra operative Elliot Abrams, the White House’s chief Middle East adviser in 2006. Through these intermediaries, as the Wall Street Journal reported, “the White House exhorted the NSF to build a wide coalition of opposition groups and to run it in a transparent and democratic manner.”[14]

As noted by Charlie Skelton in The Guardian, “indeed, a number of key figures in the Syrian opposition movement are long-term exiles who were receiving US government funding to undermine the Assad government long before the Arab spring broke out.”[15] Generally recognized as “the main opposition coalition” is the Syrian National Council (SNC). Also a part of the NSF group, The Washington Times described the SNC as “an umbrella group of rival factions based outside Syria.”[16]

The most senior of the SNC’s official spokespeople is the Paris-based Syrian academic Bassma Kodmani, who in 2012 attended her second Bilderberg conference. In 2005, Kodmani was working in Cairo for the Ford Foundation, a traditional CIA front organization, and in September of that year, was made the executive director of the Arab Reform Initiative (ARI), a research program of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). More specifically, the ARI was initiated by a group within the CFR called the “US/Middle East Project,” chaired by General (Ret.) Brent Scowcroft, a former national security adviser to the US president, also listed in Sibel Edmond’s “State Secrets Privilege Gallery.” Sitting alongside Scowcroft was Zbigniew Brzezinski, founder of the Trilateral Commission, and Carter’s National Security advisor, who instigated the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Earlier in 2005, the CFR assigned “financial oversight” of the project to the Centre for European Reform (CER). The CER is overseen by Lord Kerr, the deputy chairman of Royal Dutch Shell, a former head of the diplomatic service and a senior adviser at the influential British think-tank, Chatham House.[17]

Another oft-quoted SNC representative is Radwan Ziadeh, a senior fellow at the USIP. In February 2012, Ziadeh joined in signing a letter calling on Obama to intervene in Syria, along with former head of the CIA James Woolsey, Karl Rove, and Elizabeth Cheney, former head of the Pentagon’s Iran-Syria Operations Group. In 2009 Ziadeh became a visiting fellow at Chatham House, and in June of 2011 was featured on the panel at one of their events, “Envisioning Syria's Political Future,” sharing a platform with fellow SNC members Ausama Monajed and Najib Ghadbian.

Along with Kodmani and Ziadeh, Monajed is one of the most important SNC spokespeople. He is the Founder and Director of Barada Television, a pro-opposition satellite channel based in Vauxhall, south London. According to the Washington Post's report: “Barada TV is closely affiliated with the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based network of Syrian exiles. Classified US diplomatic cables show that the state department has funneled as much as $6m to the group since 2006 to operate the satellite channel and finance other activities inside Syria.”[18]

In a USA Today op-ed written in February 2012, Ambassador Dennis Ross declared: “It is time to raise the status of the Syrian National Council,” urging for the creation of  “an aura of inevitability about the SNC as the alternative to Assad.”[19] One of the most widely quoted western experts on Syria and a proponent of western intervention is Michael Weiss. Weiss is also the director of communications and public relations at the Henry Jackson Society, whose international patrons include leading neoconservatives like James Woolsey, Michael Chertoff, William Kristol, Robert Kagan and Richard Perle.

Weiss is the author of the influential report Intervention in Syria? An Assessment of Legality, Logistics and Hazards, which was endorsed by the SNC. Hamza Fakher, a Syrian pro-democracy activist, is the co-author with Weiss of Revolution in Danger, a “Henry Jackson Society Strategic Briefing,” published in February of 2012. Fakher is the communication manager of the London-based Strategic Research and Communication Center (SRCC), founded by Ausama Monajed. On the board of the SRCC is Murhaf Jouejati, a professor at the National Defence University in DC, “the premier center for Joint Professional Military Education (JPME)” which is “under the direction of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.”[20]

Ideally, Muslims will soon awake to the deception, as next on the Neoconservative agenda is Iran. As he once cried wolf about the Soviet sponsorship of international terrorism, Ledeen rails against Iranian terrorism in his recent book The Terror Masters: Why It Happened. Where We Are Now. How We'll Win. According to the Pacific News Service of May 19, Ledeen gave a speech at a JINSA policy forum on April 30, 2011, titled “Time to Focus on Iran—The Mother of Modern Terrorism.”

 



[1] Michael Lind. “How Neoconservatives Conquered Washington,” Salon (April 9, 2003).

[2] Justin Raimondo, “The War Against the World,” The American Conservative (November 18, 2002).

[3] Taki, “Not So Clean Break,” The American Conservative (September 11, 2006).

[4] Phyllis Bennis, “Washington's Latest Middle East War,” Common Dreams (July 25, 2006).

[5] Brian Whitaker, “Playing skittles with Saddam,” Guardian Unlimited (September 3, 2002).

[6] Justin Raimondo, “Islamist Neocons? The West's latest tactic in the war on terrorism,” Antiwar.com (September 07, 2011).

[7] Gary Kamiya, “‘An End to Evil’ by David Frum and Richard Perle.” Salon (January 30, 2004).

[8] Joshua Muravchik, “Can the Neocons Get Their Groove Back?The Washington Post (Sunday, November 19, 2006).

[10] Ibid.

[11] Jay Solomon, “To Check Syria, U.S. Explores Bond With Muslim Brothers,” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, July 25th, 2007)

[12] Allen Weinstein, quoted in David Ignatius, Openness is the Secret to Democracy, Washington Post National Weekly Edition, (September 30, 1991), pp. 24-25.

[13] Shamus Cooke, “Proxy War in Syria Threatens Catastrophe for the Middle East,” Global Research (January 30, 2012).

[15] Charlie Skelton, “The Syrian opposition: who's doing the talking?The Guardian (Thursday 12 July 2012 15.48 BST)

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

 

Comments

Saudi Arabia and Israel

The close relationship now between Saudi Arabia and Israel was actually already mentioned by Seymour Hersh, back in 2007, as what was being called a "redirection" in American foreign policy. It was being coordinated from the Saudi side by Prince Bandar, as head of Saudi intel, and who had served for 22 years as Saudi ambassador to the US, and was a close friend to Cheney and the Bush family, where he was affectionately known as "Bandar Bush."

This demonstrates a very puzzlingly close accomodation between the Saudis and neoconservative aspirations, which should reveal to those astute enough to recognize the obvious, the real intent and purpose of the Saudi state, and it's purported devotion to "Islam."

According to Hersh, in The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?:

In the past year, the Saudis, the Israelis, and the Bush Administration have developed a series of informal understandings about their new strategic direction. At least four main elements were involved, the U.S. government consultant told me. First, Israel would be assured that its security was paramount and that Washington and Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states shared its concern about Iran.

Second, the Saudis would urge Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian party that has received support from Iran, to curtail its anti-Israeli aggression and to begin serious talks about sharing leadership with Fatah, the more secular Palestinian group. (In February, the Saudis brokered a deal at Mecca between the two factions. However, Israel and the U.S. have expressed dissatisfaction with the terms.)

The third component was that the Bush Administration would work directly with Sunni nations to counteract Shiite ascendance in the region.

Fourth, the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria.

 

Wesley Clark

I forgot to mention the very important testimony of General Wesley Clark, who would later joined the 2004 race for the Democratic Party presidential nomination, in an interview with Democracy Now in 2007.

More good analysis on Syria

Here's a pretty good analysis by former CIA officer Ray McGovern, who also mentions the relevance of the Clean Break report. McGovern was a Federal employee under seven U.S. presidents over 27 years, presenting the morning intelligence briefings at the White House for many of them.

The Broader Stakes of Syrian Crisis

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