Sunday, October 26, 2008

So the US Didn't Attack Iran (which could defend itself)

The US under the Bush regime has engaged in another act of war — an aerial attack within the borders of Syria. Syrian officials are saying that four children are among the dead.

A US attack on Syria would fit a recent pattern, that of attacking third party nations in which the US has no declared hostility, most notably Pakistan, where the US has repeatedly attacked, frequently using drones (unpiloted, remotely controlled aircraft) and causing numerous civilian casualties.

For over two years, there has been speculation whether Bush and his band of war criminals would try an October surprise style attack on Iran. Plenty of Bush insiders and 'advisers' have advocated such an attack. The problems: (1) Iran can actually defend itself, even to the point of attack beyond its borders and (2) too politically risky if seen as nothing more than a Republicon grab for votes.

But Syria. . . . Well, Israel attacked with American support (perhaps even actual air support) in September, 2007, and the Europe and North America remained silent. More important, for cowards such as those that infest the Bush regime, Syria is far less able to defend itself than Iran:
  • poorer - virtually no oil wealth, GDP of $90 billion versus Iran's $763 billion
  • smaller - 185,000 sq km as opposed to 1.6 million sq km
  • far fewer people - 20 million as opposed to 66 million
  • more accessible - particularly to naval forces in the Mediterranean and airforces in Turkey
  • border US ally - namely Israel
  • vastly weaker military - less than $5 billion in Syrian military spending v. $19 billion in expenditures for the Iranian military
But most importantly, NO ECONOMIC BLOWBACK in a Syria attack. Iran can threaten Gulf oil shipments and of course is a major source of oil itself. The last thing the US and Republicons want is a spike in oil prices prompted by a drastic cut in supplies.

So is this the beginning of a late October Surprise to aid the McCon campaign? Probably not. McCain is beyond hope.

More likely, the Bush brigade realizes that once the election is over, they really have nothing to lose anymore.

The Guardian quotes Joshua Landis (Co-director, Center for Middle East Studies University of Oklahoma): "The Bush administration must assume that an Obama victory will force Syria to behave nicely in order to win favour with the new administration. Thus White House analysts may assume that it can have a "freebee" - taking a bit of personal revenge on Syria without the US paying a price."

References (as of 11:50pm, Sunday, 26 October, 2008)

'US troops' strike inside Syria
. BBC. The BBC is fond of single quotation marks these days. Why . . . the effect is to cast doubt.

US forces kill eight in helicopter raid on Syria
. The Guardian.

Syrians Blame U.S. in Deadly Blast on Iraq Border. New York Times. The Times makes no mention of children killed — a pretty standard Times omission. Note also how the Times describes a "deadly blast" — avoiding any ascription of guilt.

Syria accuses US of deadly raid. al-Jazeera.

U.S. confirms strike on Syria that killed eight
. Ha'aretz.

ANALYSIS / U.S. takes page from Israel's book in Syria Strike
. Amos Harel. Ha'aretz. Harel takes a view somewhat reminiscent of my own: "Those who anticipated an American bombing of Iran on the eve of the presidential elections or immediately after must for the moment be satisfied with a somewhat lesser replacement: the helicopter attack Sunday night in north-eastern Syria. "

Syria accuses U.S. in deadly helicopter attack. Syria Comment.


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