It was only a matter of time before someone else used the U.S. rationale of preemption to launch an attack on another country. Israel has attacked Syria using that argument, and we are rightly avoiding condemning them for that action. But probably not for the right reasons.
Arguably, Israel has a lot more “imminent threat” to fear from Syria than we ever did from Iraq. And given the beating they are taking from Hamas lately, it’s hard to blame them for trying to root out the source of the problems.
But somehow I have a nagging suspicion that we gave them a wink and a nod and a nudge to take a shot at Syria. And for our own reasons. It’s no secret that the U.S. has wanted to go after Syria and Iran since before Iraq ever fell. However, in the current climate, it would be political suicide for Bush to launch that initiative. Domestically, no one is going to buy the impending danger story again, at least any time soon.
Given that the roadmap to peace in Israel is too pock-marked with bomb craters to drive on anymore, why not have Israel play the righteous defender of their turf and go after Syria for us? They have little to lose at this point. Certainly, their citizens are likely to support that move. Further, once they are committed to that confrontation, the U.S. would never let them go it alone. First, there is our long history of defending Israel against all comers. It’s unlikely we’d deviate from that policy. We could provide logistics support, weapons, “military advisors”, supplies, etc., but it would be their war – not ours. That is an important distinction. But even ignoring that, Israel is part of the nuclear club. Because of that, the other nuclear powers cannot allow them to fall to or even be substantially vulnerable to a non-nuclear enemy – especially an enemy whose government is pathologically anti-western. The last thing anybody wants is for Syria to become a nuclear power.
We’d hate to see all that yummy oil buried under 6 feet of fresh glass.