War With Syria: (2) :What Does Israel Want?

middle_east_phySecretary Kerry having handed Israel the trump card in the Syrian affair, we have to ask what it will want from us to bail Obama out.

Jodi Rudoren, a Newton native, is now the bureau chief in Jerusalem for the NY Times. She and another penned a highly interesting article on Israel’s response to Obama’s move to go to Congress.

The gist of the article as I take it is that Prime Minister Netanyahu has asked all his inner circle to stand back, hold their tongues and consider Israel’s options. Netanyahu and Obama have had a frigid relationship. Much of it due to Iran. This will be an overriding part of any Israel decision.

One consideration that will be taken into account the article noted was the concern of Itamar Rabinovich, who was Israel’s ambassador to the United States. He said: “It would be a mistake to overplay the Israeli interest. It’s bad for Israel that the average American gets it into his or her mind that boys are again sent to war for Israel. They have to be sent to war for America.” It’s the first open recognition by an Israeli official that I have seen that many Americans believe the Americans went into Iraq for Israel.

This type thinking weighs heavily on the Israeli leadership. It is aware it has much influence in the American Congress but it also knows that it has to be used selectively or it may wear out its welcome. So it has to weigh how much of its good will to expend in giving the OK to attack Syria.

Here are the considerations facing Netanyahu:

1. What will be his relationship with Obama if he doesn’t come to his support?

2. What will Israel gain if the US does a limited attack on Syria?

As to number 2, the answer is very little. The Israeli leadership knows that a limited strike will accomplish nothing with respect to the outcome of the ongoing civil war in Syria other than altering the military balance somewhat but the war will continue as before. Israel, like the Boston Mafia when the Irish gang were warring with each other in the 1960s, can sit back and watch the battle knowing the more each side weakens each other the better off it is. Israel would then be following advise of Julius Caesar, “divide et impera.”

Israel position on the limited strike proposed by Obama is probably it wouldn’t object to it but it doesn’t have a need for it. I would not be worth expending any influence or good will to get it.

This frees it up to bargain with Obama. It knows if it doesn’t push his supporters to back Obama then its relationship with him will go back to the frigid stage but having experienced that for most of his presidency it probably is something that it is willing to accept knowing it still has solid backing in Congress.

It then has to figure how much Obama is willing to give for its support. I’d suggest that when Obama flinched and decided he wanted to bring the matter to Congress a chill went through the back of Netanyahu as he thought “if he’s reluctant to do a limited attack on Syria he’ll never do a forceful attack on Iran.”

Netanyahu’s intelligence agency is telling him that by 2016 Iran should have a nuclear weapon if all goes well. He wants an attack by the United States now and does not want to wait three more years. He understands that this may be his best opportunity to bring that about.

Obama needs the resolution he sent to Congress to be approved. Netanyahu will demand three things to get it for him:

1. That the resolution include language that authorizes him to attack Iran without going back to Congress. Some have argued that it already does. Netanyahu will want the language to be made very clear that it includes an authorization to attack Iran;

2. That any attack by Hezbollah or Iran on Israel as a result of the United States attack on Syria will call for an immediate and forceful response by the United States against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

3. A definite trigger that will require an attack on Iran.

The blunder by Kerry when he suggested that our limited strike was in Israel’s interest played right into Netanyahu’s hand. Now Bibi since he can be indifferent to the planned action against Syria can help Obama’s presidency which will be damaged irreparably if he loses the vote.

Netanyahu’s price for giving him the win isn’t that great, actually it is perhaps part of the existing policy of the United States. But it would be best if it were in writing. It would be worth going to the well one more time to get it.

One can always weasel out of tacit understandings; but a writing speaks for itself.

5 thoughts on “War With Syria: (2) :What Does Israel Want?

  1. Matt, William, Jon, Khalid et al.,

    Please keep discussing.
    Being disgusted that Americans cannot keep up or can only seem to care about ourselves is both accurate, true and not fair.

    Same as being told that Syria is in a civil war and is a proxy war for Russia and Saudi Arabia.

    The amount of disinformation that has been thrown at us regarding 9/11 on top of the lies told re Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention the Top Echelon Informant programs which have allowed those who would destroy us to live among us, has created a steep learning curve.

    Learning being the operative word.

    Blaming Americans for not being sharp enough to figure out who was lying and when while taking our wealth to build roads and bridges in other countries after bombing the lives out of them is crazy making. We have been lied to for so long we may not recognize the truth.

    It’s too bad if those of you with understanding can’t accept that many of us cannot connect the dots.
    We can’t even recognize the dots half the time.

    This is the price for our leaders and protectors who decided that we didn’t need to be told the truth.
    This is the price for Dick Cheney’s relentless pursuit of executive presidential power at the expense of the American people.
    This is the price for pandering to those who reject science while embracing fables and guns.
    This is the price for the Department of Justice rolling over.

    Blaming the victims of a maniacal group who got a hold of the military industrial complex is not only unseemly, it’s not smart. Nothing happened to those who used our loved ones to commit war crimes on our behalf. They simply went on to try and steal elections while appearing regularly on all manners of “News” programs.

    We are being led by someone whose slogan was Forward.
    I don’t mind the slogan. I don’t mind the sentiment.
    But some recognition of what was done TO us is long overdue.

    What these people did to us after we entrusted them with our power and wealth will be their legacy.

    Please excuse us if we cannot comprehend Assad.

  2. Good points, Matt. There’s much to consider. (1) This whole thing smells of the CIA-Mossad_British-French-Intelligence, a plan cooked up to bring us into war; Consider WMD and the Gulf of Tonkin = gulf in US credibility; (2) If the US will spend $500,000,000 to “punish” the “pusher” of toxic chemicals which caused 1,400 deaths, how much will it spend to stop, deter and punish “pushers” of narcotics (Heroin and Oxycontins) which kill 600 people every year in Suffolk County and probably hundreds of thousands every year throughout the US from ODs and drug-related violence and accidents. The FEDs don’t care about killing by chemicals—they did nothing when Iraq was gassing the Kurds and Irag was gassing Iranians. (3) This we see is nothing more or less than bald aggression by our Imperialistic, Intermeddling Nation. (4) I’ll repeat these points until it gets through the American’s peoples’ heads: We’re being propagandized and lied to by the FEDs. (5) Someone please help through the War Mongers’ McCain, Kerry and Biden out of office!!!

    1. William,

      I don’t think it’s much more than Obama trying to save face after his “red line” remarks last year. The Feds have their problems, but the federal government is not just a big corrupt cabal of warmongerers.

      That said, here’s a good piece at LWJ that raises some good hard questions on Syria. It’s not at all clear to me that the strikes are a good idea:

      Still more questions about the proposed US military intervention in Syria
      By Bill Roggio and Lisa Lundquist September 2, 2013 11:36 AM

      Immediately after President Barack Obama’s announcement on Saturday that he would seek Congressional authorization for the use of force in a military intervention in Syria, the administration launched a full-press effort to lobby lawmakers on the issue. According to The New York Times, about 80 lawmakers attended a classified briefing on Sunday, but some members of both political parties emerged from the briefing unconvinced that the draft resolution was ready for approval.

      The resolution blames the Assad regime for the chemical attack in Damascus on Aug. 21 that killed at least 1,000 people, and says the objective for the US’ use of force “should be to deter, disrupt, and degrade the potential for future uses of, chemical weapons or other weapons of mass destruction.”

      Several days ago, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stated that US military forces are ready to execute a command to strike at Syria. On Saturday, President Obama said that General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has indicated to him that the US capacity to execute a military intervention in Syria “is not time-sensitive” and that “[i]t will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now.”

      The US is also being pressured by allies Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and South Korea, among others, to move forward with the planned military intervention. Their reasons include concerns that a US failure to enforce a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons in Syria now may signal weakness to Iran and North Korea, encouraging them further.

      With the momentum building for the proposed US intervention, despite setbacks including the UK Parliament’s vote against intervention, and a failure by the Arab League to clearly endorse such action, it is time to ask some hard questions:

      1. The administration is convinced that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons, and President Obama said military force is necessary. But the administration has not articulated a policy towards Syria. What outcome does the administration hope to obtain by conducting strikes?

      2. Despite claims to the contrary, does the administration seek to overthrow the Assad regime? Does it seek to deny the regime the ability to launch future chemical attacks? Or does it wish to punish the regime, and launch attacks as part of a deterrent?

      If the US seeks to overthrow the government, or if as a result of the strikes the rebel forces are able to sufficiently capitalize on the intervention to succeed in overthrowing the regime, who moves in to govern Syria? Some policy analysts believe the Free Syrian Army and the overarching Syrian Opposition Council are effective partners. But as we have documented numerous times at LWJ, the FSA and SOC often collude with al Qaeda’s affiliates and other Islamist groups [see LWJ report, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant leads charge to take Syrian airport.]

      3. How would overthrowing the government effectively secure Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons? Is the US willing to send tens of thousands of troops into Syria to secure those stockpiles, which are thought to be stored in numerous locations? Keep in mind that a recent declassified intelligence assessment said that the US has lost track of said weapons. And back in early May, the Daily Beast reported that “the Syrian military has transferred more and more of its stock of sarin and mustard gas from storage sites to trucks where they are being moved around the country,” and as a result “the U.S. military and intelligence community are quietly acknowledging that the United States does not know where many of those weapons are located.”

      The US will have few, if any, partners to occupy Syria; Britain isn’t even willing to conduct airstrikes. And what happens when al Qaeda and other Islamist groups begin attacking US forces?

      4. If the US seeks to deny the Assad regime the ability to launch future chemical strikes, but is unwilling to overthrow the regime, occupy the country, and physically secure the weapons, just how would an air campaign achieve this? The attacks in Damascus were launched with mortars and rockets. Does the administration believe it can take out every small platform in Syria?

      5. If the US intervention seeks to punish the regime in the hope that a “body blow” will deter it from launching another attack, what happens if the Assad regime is undeterred? What if the regime actually views the US’s airstrikes and unwillingness to commit ground forces as a sign of weakness?

      6. What is the US plan for the not-so-implausible scenario that rebel forces, and in particular those associated with al Qaeda, have already procured and possibly used chemical weapons in Syria?

      7. What is the US plan for the likelihood that a strike on Syria, which is already the site of a proxy war, ignites a regional war, as the various parties seek to retaliate?

      8. If the US intends to attack the Assad regime, is it not important that the US have a clear case for intervention? Despite claims by American, French, and British officials that the evidence is clear and compelling for their accusation that the Assad regime is to blame for the Aug. 21 chemical attack, intelligence reports released by the governments of the US, the UK, and France have all relied essentially on circumstantial evidence.

      A more general sense of imminent danger regarding the custody and alleged use of Syria’s extensive chemical weapons might well justify some kind of intervention, but it would have to be approached and presented differently.

      Decisionmakers contemplating a military strike on Syria in the wake of the regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons must keep at least two basic considerations in mind:

      If the US wants to ensure that the regime cannot use its chemical weapons, the regime must be removed.

      And if the US is seeking also to ensure that the weapons do not fall into the wrong hands, the US and allies must take possession of those weapons, and that would require a significant number of boots on the ground.

      Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2013/09/still_more_questions_about_the.php#ixzz2dtDIZ9bL

    2. William- oxycontin has a medicinal purpose for people with serious cancer, aids, MS. Chemical weapons serve no purpose. but I agree with everything else you commented on.

    3. Williaam:

      1. It’s none of those groups bringing us into war. It is Obama and Congress. It’s right out there for everyone to see.

      2. The 500 million figure is about right but understand it’s only a starting point. Just think of what we could do with that money at home. I wonder if we will be obligated to rebuild all the facilities we destroy in Syria if the fighting ever comes to an end.

      3. Of course it is bald aggression. It’s an act of war against a country that has not threatened us. There is nothing we are seeking to prevent because of it because all the damage has been done. Certainly if we intended to prevent another gas attack this is the worst way to go about it since we won’t be touching the Syrian gas supply.

      4. You can repeat these points ’til you are blue in the face but the American people won’t listen after the rockets red glare is shown flying from our missile destroyers and we see part of Damascus being blown up from some television station doing live coverage. Americans look at this like it is a fight in a hockey game or some game on a computer. No one thinks the Syrians are really people or that they have a right to live. Plus, what better time to be ready to go to war than during the first week of the NFL season and the World Series around the corner. The Americans have better things to do than to worry about wars that don’t affect the people other than making them a day older and deeper in debt.

      5. I depended on Obama to keep his head when all about were losing theirs. After he did a walk around the Whitey House grounds with a person who may be my cousin I thought he had come to his senses and recognized the futility of his planned action. People talk about showing our resolve or preserving our credibility or assuring our allies that we won’t tolerate someone gassing his people. you know what this reminds me off is some of the gang fights I used to see up at the Odd Fellows Club on Romsey Street near the end of a dance after the liquor had made its way into the brains of all the attendees. They’d be a large group of fighters going at it in the middle of the floor and one or two guys would stand on the sidelines but every so often jump in to throw a sucker shot at someone and then quickly retreat to the sidelines. It was a pretty ignoble way to fight. What we plan to do is something like that. We are supposedly greatly upset but not upset enough to endanger any American lives so from the safety of our ships at sea we will launch missiles at a country we are not at war with. We’ll kill a few thousand Syrians, a people who have greatly suffered already in a civil war which we have encouraged, and say Mission Accomplished. What kind of message does that send to the world?

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