September 05, 2007

Syria Hysteria, Postscript

"We believe that there have been fewer suicide bombers coming through Syria, and we are cautious about this assessment, but we do think that the Syrians may have been taking more active steps against al Qaeda, which is understandable...I mean, if al Qaeda were ever to succeed in Iraq, the next thing they'd do is turn … [to] Damascus. I can assure you." [emphasis added]

-- General Petraeus, speaking yesterday.

Quick, someone tell Joe Lieberman, Max Boot, and Michael Gerson that Saint Petraeus apparently disagrees with their hysterical hyper-ventilations, OK?

P.S. Note my bolds above, Petraeus is making the same 'blowback' point I had made in my recent post on Syria (linked again above). My aim in writing the post was to provide historical context and suggest that the Syrian regime would face real security risks of its own if it were truly acting as al-Qaeda's main travel agent in the region (the main thesis of Lieberman's embarrassingly asinine op-ed in the WSJ). This is the same trope agenda-ridden ideologues (or perhaps more charitably, simply myopic simpletons), shop around credulous media outlets ad infinitum. Namely, they conflate all the brown-lookin' terruhists from south Beirut to NWFP Pakistan, seemingly having difficulty grasping that, say, Syria's support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine doesn't automatically translate into support for al-Qaeda. Of course, for analysts of this stripe, Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, al-Qaeda, Mahdi Militia etc etc are all just operating under one big banner. It's easier to wrap one's head around such exciting meta-narratives, eh? But remember gang, divide and conquer!

Posted by Gregory at September 5, 2007 01:07 PM

Quick, someone tell Joe Lieberman, Max Boot, and Michael Gerson that Saint Petraeus apparently disagrees with their hysterical hyper-ventilations, OK?

cc Jamie Kirchick as well.

Nice to see Petraeus doing a little propaganda-tamping truth telling (for a change?).

See, also, this related post on the Boot-Djerejian-Kirchick kerfuffle FWIW:

Posted by: Eric Martin at September 5, 2007 04:57 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Nice catch Greg.

And Eric, your diagram of an incoherent argument (Max et al, not yours) was simply spectacular.

Posted by: Davebo at September 6, 2007 01:17 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

1.5 million Iraqi refugees have fled into Syria - equivalent to an additional 23 million Mexicans crossing US borders over a 4 year period. Think about the impact and why stability is important to them.

Yet Lieberman wants to the US to ban Air France, Alitalia, and BMI (which just bought BMED from British Airways) from flying to the US until they drop their routes to Syria. Is he aware that they fly to Tehran too and in fact the captured British soldiers flew home on a commerical flight directly to Heathrow?

Anyway, the "foreign fighter" issue is a political scapegoat. Get out your calculator and you'll see that 15,000 US troops (less than 10% of the total manpower in Iraq) divided into 2 12 hour shifts can patrol the 375 mile border between Syria and Iraq with one solider every 262 feet. It's a human net.

Posted by: George Ajjan at September 9, 2007 01:49 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

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Gregory Djerejian comments intermittently on global politics, finance & diplomacy at this site. The views expressed herein are solely his own and do not represent those of any organization.

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