Israel's proxy war? William Bowles 07/10/03


Israel’s attack on Syria this past weekend revives an aspect of the Cold War period that most thought a thing of the past, namely utilising a third party to do your fighting for you – war by proxy – a tactic used so effectively by the US in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Afghanistan, Angola and elsewhere in the 1970s and 1980s.

Given the US’s current inability to wage war on several fronts plus rising opposition on the domestic front to any expansion of its ‘war on terrorism’, using Israel to open a ‘second front’ against Syria and in the fullnes of time, elsewhere, makes perfect sense, especially as Israel can use the ‘war on terrorism’ as a pretext for the removal of what it believes to be the last obstacle to its ‘final solution’ to the Palestinian question.

But is the attack on Syria the opening shot in the next stage of the US imperium’s strategy to make the Middle East safe for its ally Israel and at the same time, remove what it believes to be the last obstacle to guarantee its access to oil and open the way for further moves eastward?

The statements by John Negroponte, US ambassador to the UN and by Bush the smaller that effectively support the Israeli attack, would appear to confirm this view. And we can be sure that Israel makes no controversial move without first ‘clearing it’ with Washington.

Israel’s flagrant contravention of international law is not only a dangerous escalation of an already drastically destabilised situation, it also opens up a Pandora’s Box, as having been given carte blanche by the US, Israel is now free to extend its operations against Syria and ultimately, anywhere else in the Middle East. At least that’s the theory.

Driven by the fact that its terror tactics in occupied Palestine are futile and leading to increasingly desperate acts on the part of the Palestinian resistance that can only continue, the attack on Syria represents the actions of a bankrupt Sharon government, that has boxed itself into a corner.

With no place left to go, short of recognising the rights of the Palestinian people – something it has no intention of doing – it can only seek to widen its war knowing that the US, now firmly entrenched in the region, can in theory be used as a lever.

The UN Security Council, dominated as it is by by the US has proved to be totally ineffective in curbing the ambitions of an imperialist Israel, let alone the imperial ambitions of the US, as the statement it issued clearly illustrates, so as things stand, the UN is an impotent force.

From bluff to blunder
So where to now? Is the attack merely a ‘diversion’ for Israeli domestic consumption? For short of actually invading and occupying Syria, something that for purely economic reasons let alone how the rest of the states in the region would react, Israel is incapable of carrying out and sustaining such a massive operation (that is, without direct US involvement).

Some opponents of Israel’s expansionist strategy are commenting that this will be the next step, but I beg to differ. Israel’s economy is all but bankrupt. Unemployment is rife and inflation is rising. The burden of supporting such a vast arms bill without massive US support, already running into tens of billions of dollars a year, is simply unsustainable. The cost of occupation would be the final straw that would break Israel’s economy and would undoubtedly lead to the downfall of the Sharon government.

And with 250,000 troops tied down in Iraq, the US is in a real bind. The Rumsfeld ‘strategy’ has turned out to be a total disaster, both strategically, politically and economically. With every passing day, resistance to the occupation grows. Delusions of empire are, like Napoleon’s march on Moscow foundering, not in the snows of the steppes but in the sands of the desert. This is a reality that no amount of bluster or propaganda can alter. And the US presidential election draws ever nearer.

Israel’s attack on Syria is a sign of weakness, not strength, for without direct US participation in an attack and occupation of Syria, it’s difficult to see what options beyond intimidation and bluff, Sharon has to offer.

It is I suppose possible that borne out of sheer desperation, the US/Israel axis could commit the even greater blunder of over-extending itself even further, but is this likely? It’s already clear that there are serious divisions emerging within the US administration over the conduct of the war and the failure of the occupation to achieve even the most minimal ‘pacification’ of Iraq. And it’s difficult to see what appointing Condoleeza Rice as some kind of ‘administrator’ will do to alter the situation aside from appeasing those within the State Department who see a total disaster looming on the horizon.

Ye reap what ye sow
I contend that Israel has run out of road, for the Intifada, far from being broken, has been left no other option but to continue to resist, whether for a two- or single state solution. As I pointed out even as the ‘road-map’ was published, it was dead in the water.

The US is in a parallel bind in Iraq. Leaving now opens up a power vacuum that would in all likelyhood permit just the ‘wrong’ people taking power and staying on just drags the US even deeper into a quagmire of its own making.

It must surely be apparent to any thinking person from the Beltway to Baghdad, that aside from anything else, the nature of the invasion and occupation was ill conceived and on every level. It beggars belief just what the ‘planners’ in Washington DC thought they were doing in allowing the total physical destruction of the state apparatus, even in their own interests as the new ‘owners’. They have, in effect, created a Middle Eastern Somalia, a ‘failed state’ of their own creation.

One need only look at the people who have been put in ‘charge’ of the occupation such as pro-consul Bremer, marching about in a suit and combat boots or Ahmed Chalabi, convicted felon and the US’s hand-picked puppet. These are not the stuff colonial administrators are made of, they are not equipped even nominally to perform the functions they have been assigned. They are at best, simply Bush and co’s cronies, what used to be called carpetbaggers. There has been absolutely no attempt to create even the most nominal of administrations and finding local quislings to do the job for them is becoming increasingly difficult, it’s just too dangerous.

As I pointed out in 'David Kay and the CIA', the 'crony factor' even extends to what passes for a goverment in benighted Iraq, with the 'interim governing council' no more than mere employees of a San Diego-based defence corporation, SAIC, who live out their lives behind concrete walls, sandbags and US armour, not daring to set foot outside without being ferried around armoured convoys. This is an occupation under siege from the population.

With no room left for the US and Israel to manouver in, can it be too long before the world community wakes up and demands international intervention of some kind, although what form it would take is as yet unknown. But it’s obvious that the current situation is simply unsustainable and can only lead to further instability that threatens to spin completely out of control.

One looks for some kind of sign that the USUK power elite are worried, but so complete is their state of self-delusion, that one gets the feeling that like the captain of a liner, they’ll go down with their respective ships, saluting as they disappear beneath the chaotic waters they have churned up in their manic quest for domination.

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