Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bush and His Legacy: Incursions Into Syria.

As the election draws ever near, the words "October Surprise" linger on the periphery of the national consciousness. Of course, as the days pass by, the prospect of a game-changing external event becomes increasingly attractive to McCain supporters. Obviously those who back the frontrunner look upon that possibility with dread. While too transparent a move by the current president will draw widespread suspicions of a desire to change the outcome at the polls, subtle actions can have an effect that last a lot longer. Such is the case with George W. Bush's decision to cross the Iraqi-Syrian border to mount an attack on "foreign insurgents" who support opposition to the American occupation.

On Monday, the US military used helicopters and a small team of special forces soldiers to assault a "senior Al Qaeda operative" named Abu Ghadiyah. Apparently the operation was successful. Ghadiyah, who has been suspected of funnelling fighters, cash and weapons into Iraq, was reportedly killed. The Mosul native was thought to be an imprtant aide of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed in 2006. Seven other people also died during the raid on the village of Sukkariyeh, a mere five miles from the Iraqi border. Witnesses at the scene report that two additional men were taken into custody, and spirited away by air. Obviously this operation did nothing to further ongoing relations between the Syrian, Iraqi and American governments.

From what US authorities say, Syria is currently the only direction from which foreign support for the Iraqi resistance has been arriving (an odd assertion given the repeated accusations that Iran has been supporting the insurgency). They claim that such activities could only continue with the full knowledge of Syrian intelligence. Interior Minister Bassam Abdel Majeed denies such charges. Syrian leaders point out that they have their own difficulties with Baathist Sunni extremists, and are loathe to provoke enmity by backing "terrorists". But while Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem characterized the American operation as an act of "criminal and terrorist aggression", military retaliation is not expected.

What consequences could arise from this raid? Well, for one thing, some observers say that it will make Iran assume a more oppositional attitude toward cooperation between Baghdad and Washington. It may increase their hostility to an Iraqi-US Status of Forces Agreement that they believe gives American troops "free rein to stage military operations wherever and whenever they deem necessary, without consulting the Iraqi government." Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said "We actually condemn any attack which violates national sovereignty of countries and leads to the killing of innocent people. Such invasions are unacceptable". Meanwhile a spokesman for Nouri al-Maliki's government says that Iraq rejects the raid, even if the US claims it was legitimate.

Any agreement between the Bush Administration and the Iraqis could be forestalled by what much of the Middle East perceives as an aggressive action. The Iraqi Parliament is increasingly giving signals that there must be substantial change in the Status of Forces Agreement before it approves it. While it may make perfect sense for Bush to strike out against perceived enemies in the waning days of his presidency, his choices may indeed make his successor's job much more difficult come January. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) is calling for a united Middle Eastern response to the strike, and suggesting that Bush intends to boost McCain in his election campaign. We can only wait and see how this develops.

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6 Comments:

Blogger James said...

I just want to clarify.

Incursions into Syria = Bad.

Incursions into Pakistan = Good.

Anything else we should know before voting for Obama the marxist?

5:57 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

The first thing you need to know is that if you want to construct an intelligible response to a post, you are going to have to read it first.

The second thing that YOU apparently need to know is that if Obama is a Marxist, then the US has been Marxist since 1862. Tell that to your grandfather, and see what he says.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Warm Apple Pie said...

Also you betcha too I see you there Obama the Marxist. Stand up if we are all so blessed to recognize your service. But it has gotta be about job creation and Putin the head-rearer. Whaddya expect from John the Maverick, couple of mavericks, talking straight to America the People, there's Todd the Snow Machine Champion. I read all of them, any of them. Sarah the Feather Ruffler also too.

Anything else we should know before voting for Obama the marxist?

In what respect, Jamesy?

8:40 PM  
Blogger Warm Apple Pie said...

Wag the dog scenario, eh Merge?

I'll never forget August 21, 1998 - Slick Willie's Wag the Dog moment. I mean showing his ass.

'Wag the Dog' Back In Spotlight
LOS ANGELES (AllPolitics, Aug. 21) -- A president embroiled in a sex scandal in the Oval Office tries to save his presidency by distracting the nation with a made-for-TV war far from American soil in an obscure country.

It's not the latest news out of Washington, but the plot of the movie "Wag the Dog." In the 1997 movie, a shadowy spin doctor played by Robert De Niro recruits a Hollywood producer (Dustin Hoffman) to invent a war against Albania.

The film came out just before the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke -- and no doubt benefited at the box office and then at the video store from the publicity. Now, the film is all the buzz again because of President Clinton's announcement -- three days after admitting for the first time an inappropriate relationship with Ms. Lewinsky -- that he ordered military strikes in two countries.

From the moment Clinton went on live television Thursday to announce the bombings in Afghanistan and Sudan, "Wag the Dog's" producer-director Barry Levinson and producer Jane Rosenthal were inundated with requests for comment.

"The world's media right now are giving the filmmakers far too much credit for being clairvoyant," said their spokesman, Simon Halls. "The filmmakers put together a movie that was entertainment, and it was well received, but that's what it was: entertainment. Anything that is happening in the world today really has nothing to do with the movie."

8:43 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

y'know... part of me feels that George Bush doesn't like McCain enough to really jam up this election. But with partisan politics being what they are nowadays, it seems like anything is possible.

I'm just waiting for this week's Orange Alert.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

With this incursion into Syria in the waning days of their ill-spent reign, Busheney are carving out for themselves a forth (unfinishable) military front in their GWOT.

I think the central issue presented here is the difference between UN Chapter 7 authority and the Status of Forces Agreement. Which document authorizes a greater degree of American assumption of the role of Iraq's defense? Conversely, which gives Coalition forces greater liberty to use Iraq as a base from which to attack its neighbors.

I was hoping for some clarification on this point.

3:12 AM  

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