"Don't hit them, they're dying anyway," Rice says

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According to Newsweek, the Bush administration recently contemplated attacking Syria, but the Syrians were saved, at least for the moment, by Condoleezza Rice.

While U.S. officials stop short of accusing [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad of actively aiding the insurgency, they say he has permitted jihadist transit and training camps to exist in the open. After the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, warned last month that "time is running out on Damascus," U.S. officials even debated launching military strikes inside the Syrian border against the insurgency. But at an Oct. 1 "principals" meeting, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice successfully opposed such a move, according to two U.S. government sources who are not authorized to speak on the record. Rice argued that diplomatic isolation is working against al-Assad, especially on the eve of a U.N. report that may blame Syria for the murder of Lebanese politician Rafik Hariri.

I had investigated the possibility of an American attack on Syria back in August.

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  1. Assad, fear the sanctions!

  2. I wonder if the peace people who were slamming Condi for buying shoes in New York a couple of weeks ago will give her any cred for this.

    Actually, I don’t wonder at all.

  3. RC:

    of course not. but they might accuse her of personally shooting at the coast guard helicopters…….

    good win yesterday BTW.

  4. Unfortunately for the Syrians, while there is violence in Iraq, there is also an ongoing political process, a free press, elections, $2.5 billion a month in oil revenue, and 200,000 Iraqi troops — and growing.

    These attacks are a clear violation of democratic Iraq’s sovereignty. Assad runs the risk of starting a war with the new Iraq. In a couple years, the Iraqis will be more than strong enough to strike back against Syria with American air power backing them. That could take the form of anything from limited strikes against Syrian safehouses near the border to outright regime change.

  5. Does watching an Iraq hawk invoke sovereignty as an excuse for the next phase of the neocon crusade make anyone else want to puke?

  6. Does watching an Iraq hawk invoke sovereignty as an excuse for the next phase of the neocon crusade make anyone else want to puke?

    It all depends on the facts, joe.

    If Syria is in fact harboring and aiding fighters engaged in crossing into Iraq and killing Iraqis (and no one seriously doubts they are), then are the Iraqis just supposed to sit and take it?

    If Syria is incapable of eliminating or controlling the people using its territory as safe haven for crossing into Iraq and killing Iraqis, aren’t the Iraqis entitled to do what is necessary to eliminate this threat.

    What’s your preferred outcome, here, joe?

  7. I’m glad at least one member of the administration has a modicum of sense. But how the hell did Bush think he’d manage to invade Syria while we’re still bogged down in Iraq, anyway? Where would we have found the troops?

  8. Where would we have found the troops?

    A whole lot of former insurgents would be saying “The judge told me I either join the Army or go wear a leash in Abu Ghraib.”

  9. RC,

    “If Syria is in fact harboring and aiding fighters engaged in crossing into Iraq and killing Iraqis (and no one seriously doubts they are), then are the Iraqis just supposed to sit and take it?” I don’t recall seeing Iraqi self defense being raised in the article. How many of the “principals” at the October 1 meeting do you think were Iraqis?

    This is question of whether the United States should invade yet another country on the other side of the planet for purely American interests. The issue you raise is wholly unrelated to that being discussed. I note that this tendency to read phantom decency into the Bush administration hawks’ behavior is very common among their supporters.

    That said, of course a sovereign Iraqi government has the right to defend itself.

  10. Well, joe, that bit about a sovereign Iraq having the right to defend itself is exactly what TallDave was posting about.

    So, see, you, me and TallDave agree.

    Now, if one of our allies is defending itself against cross-border aggression, are we allowed to help? Like maybe with a little air support?

  11. Now, if one of our allies is defending itself against cross-border aggression, are we allowed to help? Like maybe with a little air support?

    We could do that but it would be wrong. /nixon

    I don’t understand why we would need to invade just to knock off a little tinpot dicator like Assad Junior.

  12. We don’t need to invade Syria. We can just have the covert operatives assassinate Assad. Those guys can do anything in the movies!

  13. joe,

    People like you who invoke sovereignty to defend butchers like Saddam certainly make me want to puke.

    Only democratic, consensual gov’ts have any real valid claim to sovereignty.

  14. Only democratic, consensual gov’ts have any real valid claim to sovereignty.

    Then why did we go out of our way to defend the sovereignity of the theocratic monarchy of Kuwait?

    (I know, I know. Because of the oil. It was a rhetorical question.)

  15. this tendency to read phantom decency into the Bush administration hawks’ behavior

    I note your tendency to read phantom indecency into their behavior.

    Anyway, their motives are irrelevant to me. I care about the advance of human freedom. If they think they’re going to war for oil, that’s fine with me, if they bring freedom and democracy to Iraq. If they bring it to Syria as well, even better.

  16. Jennifer,

    Yes, partly because of the oil, but also because Saddam was a far worse dictator than the Kuwaiti emirs.

    And, of course, because that statement about sovereignty is not yet widely accepted — though more people are beginning to realize the obvious truth of it.

  17. “Now, if one of our allies is defending itself against cross-border aggression, are we allowed to help? Like maybe with a little air support?”

    Talk to me when we have a sovereign ally asking for help of its own volition. Until the Iraqi government can decide for itself which military forces it will and will not allow inside its borders, what we’re talking about is a colony (or, at best, a satellite, like East Germany) that is being used for its patron’s purposes. I will remend you, yet again, that the “principals meeting” on October 1 consisted of American officials discussing what to do to further American goals.

  18. TallDave,

    You are wrong about the definition of sovereignty. When the concept was dreamed up, not a single one of the nations on the planet – not a single one – was a consensual democratic government.

  19. “People like you who invoke sovereignty to defend butchers like Saddam certainly make me want to puke.”

    Not me dude. I never found that argument terribly convincing. Maybe the liberal in your head used to point to it.

    I “defended Saddam” based on my certainty that your hero Shrub would actually go into that miserable hellhole and make things worse, while screwing up our efforts to actually make ourselves safe from terrorism. It looks like I’m two for two.

  20. Let me get this straight – an Administration that already has one major expeditionary force fully engaged in Iraq, a second smaller force in Afghanistan, and other significant overseas committments was seriously considering intervening in a third country? Do any of these people have a brain in their heads? The Army and Marines have their hands full as it is, and I seriously doubt that a few airstrikes are going to topple Assad. This is the sign of a government that’s painted itself into a strategic corner. Good to hear that Condi Rice is earning her keep, anyway.

    The Iraqi Army is in no position to defend its sovereignity against anybody in the near future, seeing as by the US Army’s own admission only one Iraqi battalion is capable of operating without US support, and infiltration by insurgents and insurgent sympathizers is still rampant. Probably no more than 10-15% of the Iraqi Army is combat-capable to any extent, the remaining personnel being there mainly to fill uniforms and get blown up by suicide bombers.

    The style of government has nothing to do with sovereignity – Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were certainly sovereign states. You can certainly argue whether those governments were legitimate (although the Nazis came to power via the Weimar electoral process), but that’s a completely different question. To argue that non-democratic countries aren’t sovereign is to imply that democratic governments are free to invade and install new governments in them at will, and I’m afraid that some people (including the inhabitants of those countries) may take violent exception to that view.

  21. If Syria is in fact harboring and aiding fighters engaged in crossing into Iraq and killing Iraqis (and no one seriously doubts they are), then are the Iraqis just supposed to sit and take it?

    I’m with joe, I don’t see what an American invasion of Syria has to do with whether the Iraqis should be allowed to defend themselves.

    …One question: When Shiite factions start defending themselves against foreign extremists working with local ex-Baathists… …Isn’t that what we’re talking about when we talk about civil war in Iraq?

    If Syria is incapable of eliminating or controlling the people using its territory as safe haven for crossing into Iraq and killing Iraqis, aren’t the Iraqis entitled to do what is necessary to eliminate this threat?

    I agree with joe again here; of course Iraqis have the right to defend themselves.

    …but the larger question is whether the United States should do to Syria what it did in Iraq, isn’t it? …and, even if Syria is a gateway for the extremists attacking Americans, I think America should decide what to do based on what’s in the best interest of America…

    That is, I’m, once again, more interested in what’s smart rather than what’s justifiable.

    …If occupying Syria produced a situation worse for America than the situation we’re in now, well, then occupying Syria wouldn’t be very smart. …Does anyone out there believe that the United States would be better off if Syria was like Iraq is now?

  22. Sigh. The false dichotomy continues. If we want to knock off Assad, we need to invade and occupy. No other choice. Right.

  23. Sigh. The false dichotomy continues. If we want to knock off Assad, we need to invade and occupy. No other choice. Right.

    Say, when are we going to pull our occupation troops out of Serbia?

  24. Since sovereignity only applies to nations with democratically elected governments, I guess this means we can invade pretty much any country in the world except for Canada, India, Japan, Australia and parts of Europe, huh? Sweet!

    And since we’re doing so fabulously well in Iraq, and our Army has more troops, armor, weapons and equipment than it can possibly use, why not invade a new country every year? Only next time, make sure our bullshit excuses aren’t as obviously bullshit as the ones for Iraq were.

  25. Sy-

    If assassination was really so easy that it could be done routinely without a war, I have a hunch that a lot of dictators would have met their fates by now. I mean, hell, we couldn’t even kill Saddam Hussein in the invasion. He got away and hid.

    Sure, leaders get assassinated from time to time, but it isn’t just a matter of sending in a few CIA guys and letting them do their thing. Dictators are paranoid about security, and so I assume that assassinating them is rather difficult. It might be easier with suicidal attackers, but we don’t have many of those at our disposal.

  26. we will not stop until we immolate ourselves on our own sword, it seems.

  27. are the Iraqis just supposed to sit and take it?

    it would bother me less, mr dean, if the iraqis really had any say at all in how things are to unfold.

    it seems to me that many hawks want to take iraqi sovereignty as seriously as many russian hawks once wanted to take polish or czech sovereignty. the world’s mightiest military has a massive army in the field within their borders — and THEY call the shots? please — spare us this puppet show.

  28. “This is question of whether the United States should invade yet another country on the other side of the planet for purely American interests.” – joe

    Because we should only invade other countries if it ISN’T in our interest? Oh, that’s right, we should only go to places that have nothing to do with our national interests like Kosovo and Somalia.

    What a surprise that Tom Crick and joe are on the same side.

  29. if the iraqis really had any say at all in how things are to unfold.

    Hello? Elections? Democracy?

    please — spare us this puppet show.

    It’s really disturbing that so many people hate the Bush admin so much that they throw out the principles of freedom and democracy as mere rhetoric. Iraq is not a puppet show, it’s 25 million people who for the first time in their lives have some say in how they are governed and where their society is going.

  30. joe,

    Not me dude. I never found that argument terribly convincing.

    You’re not making much sense. You just raised an objection to my using sovereignty in reference to the elected Iraqi gov’t, implying you felt it applied to Saddam. If you don’t feel it was valid for Saddam, why would it “make you want to puke” when applied to a democratically elected gov’t? It wouldn’t.

    More proof logic isn’t your strong point, to go along with your claim that you “think more highly of Iraqis” than I do, but that they can’t handle democracy.

  31. Mark B,

    Wrong, there are 80,000 Iraqi troops fighting right now.

    Here is a pretty thorough breakdown of the “levels of readiness” question.

    There are quite a few Level 2 and Level 3 Battalions which can and do fight, over 100 in fact. All of these are capable of defending Iraq’s sovereignty now. With American air power behind them, they could easily defeat any standing Mideast army.

  32. Jennifer,

    Since sovereignity only applies to nations with democratically elected governments, I guess this means we can invade pretty much any country in the world

    There are over 100 democracies in the world today, 134 at last count iirc.

    It’s not a question of “who we can invade.” It’s a question of which gov’ts are serving their people and respecting their rights, and which are bands of thugs of oppressing their people and denying their rights. Maybe you think the latter situation is no big deal and the thugs deserve to be recognized as legitimate gov’ts, but I disagree.

    Only next time, make sure our bullshit excuses aren’t as obviously bullshit as the ones for Iraq were.

    Again, all the reasons given were perfectly valid.

  33. Good to see that somebody is keeping the tradition of multiple posting alive while our famed multiple poster graces some other country’s shores with his presence.

  34. There are over 100 democracies in the world today

    Yes, including such fine nations as Iran–since they do in fact have the vote that means everything is fine over there, right? The government totally represents the people? Just like in Iraq. So it’s good to know that by TallDave’s standard, at least Iran is off-limits for invasion. Good thing for us, too–they’re bigger, stronger and richer than Iraq.

  35. thoreau,

    It’s either that or ignore posts addressed to me.

    Jennifer,

    Iran is not a democracy. An election does not make a democracy; only free elections do that. Saddamist Iraq had elections too; the choice was “vote for Saddam or die.” When unelected bodies deny the will of the people by dictating who can even appear on the ballot as is done in Iran, it’s not democracy (that’s why here in the US we get a Presidential ballot with 10 names on it even though there are usually only 2 or 3 serious candidates).

    That said, invading Iran is probably unnecessary. It’s likely the 80% of the people that don’t like the gov’t will soon take matters into their own hands, as happened in the Soviet Union.


  36. When unelected bodies deny the will of the people by dictating who can even appear on the ballot as is done in Iran

    Was the CPA an elected body in Iraq. Because they sure as hell dictated who can appear on the ballots.

  37. Thoreau, it is not necessary to assassinate a particular individual to de-functionalize a government. In fact, that’s probably the least effective measure except as part of an overall strategy of total disruption of command and control.

  38. Hello? Elections? Democracy?

    i love that some people are so simple as to think that, because our government insists that there is a democracy there (see? purple fingers!) they can safely disregard all the obvious points regarding the iraqis’ laughably compromised position re: governance.

    the united states has a dominant army in country, actively combatting large segments of the population. since when is the government of any such place anything like autonomous? the notion is ridiculous. iraq is run from washington in every way that matters — and iraqis know it, which is why we are mortally resented and hated there.

  39. though, i suppose, the fiction goes further, and says that we aren’t combatting large segments of the populace, and that our army is purely benevolent.

    stupidity in the service of ideology, after all, has no limit.

  40. Cambodia, anyone?

    lol — but it isn’t vietnam, mr garth! it only walks, talks and smells like an ever-expanding quagmire! LMAO!

  41. “Hello? Elections? Democracy?”

    Every party that won a seat in the Iraqi parliament ran on a platform of “I’ll get the Americans out of Iraq.” So, Captain Democracy, should we follow the will of the people? Yeah, right. Why do you think so poorly about the Iraqi people, anway?

    “You just raised an objection to my using sovereignty in reference to the elected Iraqi gov’t, implying you felt it applied to Saddam.” OK, I’ll spell it out for you – you had absolutely no concern about sovereignty when it was an impediment to your Keyboard Kommando fantasies, and now that it might be useful, you’re waiving it around like a bloody shirt. Your hypocracy, always on the side of having other people’s kids die to kill some Arabs for you, is what makes me puke.

    “An election does not make a democracy; only free elections do that….When unelected bodies deny the will of the people by dictating who can even appear on the ballot as is done in Iran, it’s not democracy” So how did the Ba’ath Party do in the latest round of elections? Oh, that’s right, we couldn’t trust those people to choose properly.

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