Next Stop: Syria

The pressure on Syria is being increased, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a “border incident” involving a shoot-out between Syrian and American troops. We may be in for a new Tonkin Gulf, leading to an extension of our “liberatory” efforts in the Middle East.

We already have U.S. Ambassador (i.e., Imperial Viceroy) Zalmay Khalilzad making threats, and this, coupled with the ongoing frame-up of Syria over the assassination of Rafik Hariri, will soon put Damascus in the spotlight. Readers of the “Clean Break” scenario co-authored by Richard Perle and his gang in Washington will be familiar with the strategic rationale advanced by the Likudniks now in positions of power in the Bush administration: the road to Damascus, always considered by Israel the front line in their battle against the Arab world, runs through Baghdad, and this latest propaganda campaign is similar to the one preceding the invasion of Iraq. Israeli pressure on the U.S. to restore their lost hegemony in Lebanon, disarm Hezbollah, and overthrow Syrian strongman Bashar Assad has been unrelenting, and the Amen Corner in the U.S. – yes, that’s Michael Young of Reason magazine, among others – is barking and yelping with its usual lack of restraint. Speaking of Young, you have only to peruse his most recent screed for Tech Central Station – a favored watering hole of liberventionists – to get a sense of just how murky and unconvincing the case targeting Syria as Hariri’s assassin is. Speculating on the contents of a secret preliminary report issued by the UN investigator on the death of Hariri, Young avers:

“The preliminary report did not address the substance of what [UN chief investigator Detlev] Mehlis and his team had found, though it did offer details allowing for some educated guesses.”

The anti-libertarian Young is “educated” by his enthusiasm for U.S. military power as a “liberating” force in the world, and his “guesses” have consistently served his own agenda: one commenter on Jim Henley’s blog trenchantly described Young as “a kinder gentler Aounist.”

Ignoring the repeated statements by Mehlis that no Syrian is on his list of suspects, Young speculates that Assad himself is implicated – again, based on nothing but vague “rumors” and “press reports” (from the notoriously unreliable government-controlled Kuwaiti media).

Young’s piece is filled with brazen rumor-mongering and embarrassing phrases – or, at least, they would be embarrassing if Young bothered to hide his propagandistic take on events in Lebanon, which he doesn’t.

“While one must await the final report, the latest rumors in Beirut suggest…”

“Yet another rumor difficult to corroborate, published without attribution in Internet and press reports…”

Another “rumor” (i.e., lie) pushed by Young, and subsequently abandoned, was the assertion that the bomb that killed Hariri was planted in the middle of the road, and that this (somehow) proved that Syrian intelligence was behind the plot, because, you see, Syria had absolute hegemony over the streets of Beirut, and, in any case, no assassination could have taken place without Syria’s assent. When this “why don’t we do it in the road?” theory was debunked, Young never acknowledged that the evidence had destroyed his neat little theory – and that his sources were somewhat dubious. He merely moved on to another talking point. A typical neocon, he; that Young has found a home at Reason magazine, once a libertarian periodical and now the plaything of heedless hedonists, is just more evidence that we have entered a Bizarro World universe, where “libertarians” act like they’re employed by the Office of Strategic Influence, frolic with a “former” Trotskyite in Vegas while playing the slot machines, and hope for yet another big windfall from some neocon foundation.

I might add that the equally clueless Hooman Majd, over at the Huffington Post, doesn’t believe the threats from the U.S. represent anything more substantial than hot air. Like so many at Huffpuff, his heart is in the right place, but his head isn’t screwed on right. In response to Khalilzad’s ominous remark to the effect that “all options are on the table” with regard to dealing with Syria, Mr. Majd has this to say:

“Sorry Mr. Ambassador, I don’t think the line works anymore. There may have been a time when U.S. threats were meaningful, but they sure aren’t now. The Iranian response to the same threat issued by President Bush some months ago was to laugh it off, or more recently in the wake of ‘not all options are on the table’ Katrina, to threaten right back. Perhaps the administration may want to start engaging in some diplomacy (what one assumes is an ambassador’s actual job). If we want Syria’s help (or even Iran’s help) in pacifying Iraq, then berating them in public and issuing threats is hardly the way to bring them around, particularly since most of the world, if not most Americans, have seen that the emperor (along with many of his subjects on the Gulf Coast) has no clothes.”

Sorry, Mr. Majd, but you just don’t get it, do you? This administration will stop at nothing – nothing! – to advance its Middle Eastern agenda, and that agenda consists of a single simple word: conquest [.pdf]. Anyone who really believes that Hurricane Katrina will divert this administration and the neocon cabal that has seized control of our foreign policy from pursuing their dreams of Empire is a fool. A new conflict will divert attention away from the incompetence surrounding the response to Katrina: the devastation and Bush’s clueless efforts to ameliorate it will only encourage the White House to leave us with a lasting legacy of fresh horrors in the Middle East.

Why are we in Iraq? All the better to go after Syria, then Iran. Saudi Arabia, too, is “on the table” – and the feast has just begun.

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].