The great danger of faking your ability to do something in the public square is that someone with an actual desire to the job you are pretending to do might come along and show you up.
This is what has just happened to the US in Syria with the entrance of Russia into the fight against ISIL.
And as is generally the case with posers caught with their pants down, the US policy elites are not happy about it.
You see, the US strategic goal in Syria is not as your faithful mainstream media servants (led by that redoubtable channeler of Neo-Con smokescreens at the NYT Michael Gordon) might have you believe to save the Syrian people from the ravages of the long-standing Assad dictatorship, but rather to heighten the level of internecine conflict in that country to the point where it will not be able to serve as a regional bulwark against Israeli regional hegemony for at least another generation.
How do we know? Because important protagonists in the Israelo-American policy planning elite have advertised the fact with a surprising degree of clarity in documents and public statements issued over the last several decades.
The key here is learning to listen to what our cultural training has not prepared us to hear.
In 1982, as the Likud Party (which is to say, the institutional incarnation of the Revisionist Zionist belief, first articulated by Jabotinsky in the “Iron Wall” that the only way to deal with “the Arabs” in and around Israel was through unrelenting force and the inducement of cultural fragmentation) was consolidating its hold on the foreign policy establishment of Israel, a journalist named Oded Yinon, who had formerly worked at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, published an article in which he outlined the strategic approach his country needed to take in the coming years.
What follows are some excerpts from Israel Shahak’s English translation of that text:
“Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target. Syria will fall apart, in accordance with its ethnic and religious structure, into several states such as in present day Lebanon….”
“Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger thanSyria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel. An Iraqi-Iranian war will tear Iraq apart and cause its downfall at home even before it is able to organize a struggle on a wide front against us. Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north.”
“If Egypt falls apart, countries like Libya, Sudan or even the more distant states will not continue to exist in their present form and will join the downfall and dissolution of Egypt.
“There is no chance that Jordan will continue to exist in its present structure for a long time, and Israel’s policy, both in war and in peace, ought to be directed at the liquidation of Jordan under the present regime and the transfer of power to the Palestinian majority.”
Yinon’s vision reappeared in the now infamous “Clean Break” document from 1996, authored by a consortium of US and Israeli “strategic thinkers” that included Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David and Meyrav Wurmser, which was meant to serve as a foreign policy guide for the first administration of Benjamin Netanyahu.
The text is nothing if not obsessive regarding the need to seriously debilitate Syria’s ability to act in any way is a pole of regional influence in the in the area .
“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.”
“Most important, it is understandable that Israel has an interest supporting diplomatically, militarily and operationally Turkey’s and Jordan’s actions against Syria, such as securing tribal alliances with Arab tribes that cross into Syrian territory and are hostile to the Syrian ruling elite.”
And as Dan Sanchez has recently shown, David Wurmser went into even greater detail about the need to balkanize Israel’s northeastern neighbor in articles published in approximately the same time period, talking quite openly in one essay about “expediting the chaotic collapse” of Baathist Syria.
Then there is Wesley Clark’s famous speech, given in 2007, in which he revealed the true strategic aims of those running US foreign policy in the wake of the September 11th attacks. In it, he tells of a conversation he had at that time with a Pentagon official who admitted that the real plan was “to attack and destroy the governments in seven countries in five years”.
Those countries, according to Clark, were: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iraq. In the same speech, he explicitly ties the hatching of the plan to Richard Perle, head of the cadre of people who wrote in the “Clean Break” document of the paramount importance of putting Israel in position to “shape its strategic environment”.
On September 5th, 2013, Alon Pinkas, the former Israeli Consul General in New York and well-connected member of Tel Aviv’s conservative policy elite described the Syrian conflict in the following terms in the New York Times:
“This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,….Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.”
I don’t think it can get much clearer than that. The US-Israeli plan in Syria never been about helping anyone in that country, but rather insuring its effective dismemberment so as to further the perceived “strategic interests” of the Jewish state.
As Tomás Alcoverro, the longtime Mideast correspondent of Barcelona’s La Vanguardianewspaper wrote 9 October 2015, in reference to the combined Russian and Syrian government attacks carried out during the previous week: “If this joint offensive is successful, the US plan for continuing the war of attrition until both sides are exhausted, will lie in ruins”.
Yes, the US and Israelis, have been “faking it” in Syria for a good long time now. And Putin has come along and called their bluff.
And they are not happy about it. Which is why the ongoing campaign of demonization against the Russian leader is being ratcheted up—if that’s possible—to still higher levels of intelligence-insulting hyperbole.
Thomas S. Harrington is a professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and the author of the recently published book, Livin’ la Vida Barroca: American Culture in a Time of Imperial Orthodoxies.