Israel's attacks Syria: preemptive strike or retalliation?

I know we’ve been down this road too many times. But this time we really are caught between a rock(our principles) and a hard place(Isreal).

from the NYT:

Israel said the airstrike was on a training site used by Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian group that claimed responsibility for the attack in Haifa on Saturday. Still, a senior Bush administration official said the evidence that the target was in fact such a base remained “very amorphous.”

President Bush’s own aggressive stance against terrorism leaves little room for the administration to criticize actions taken by others. Having laid out an American doctrine claiming the right to carry out pre-emptive attacks against terrorist targets, the administration has consistently said that it recognized Israel’s own right to retaliate for terrorist attacks.

If you’re not with us, you’re against us. That’s what he said. Now we can’t fault Israel for it’s actions, but we can’t condone either. We can only undermine their ability by playing stupid. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil may get you brownie points in the middle east, the UN and the media, but they still manufacture hate and jihad against us regardless of how tight we hold reigns on Israel.

Haven’t our enemies (Saddam, Osama) already stated that most of their hatred is because of the presence of Israel, our support for them, and the palestinian ‘occupation’? It appears to me that this terrorism problem is being skirted and patched just like every other government action: Treat the symptoms and ignore the sickness.

Isreal laid out the doctrine of preemptive strikes long ago and are the only ones(besides the arabs) that remain consistent while we blow with the wind. After making us look strong by holding the Iraqi leader to his promises, we are appear soft on Saudi Arabia and Syria. The arabs might be right about us, we will retreat when enough pressure is applied, or when we get tired, or when we lose resolve. If Bush is truly a good leader, he will have to make some ‘tough decisions’ before the next election instead of playing pussyfoot and covering his eyes ears and mouth like the three monkeys.

There will never be peace in the middle east until there is a victory by one side or the other. Or until someone has the courage to say enough is enough and force a settlement. Only the leader of the most powerful nation in the world has the ability and the power to do this. Obviously the ‘congress’ of nations, the UN, is powerless to do anything about it so our leader must set the standards, plot the course, and set sail for the promised land.

But if the planning for the Iraq situation is a model for the administrations effectiveness, perhaps we don’t have the necessary leadership to accomplish this onerous task. Perhaps golf and poetry are more important than life and legacy.

As long as the Arab-Israelis keep cranking out babies at double the pace of the Israeli Jews, none of this matters. Israel’s actually going to kill itself if it doesn’t get some kind of two-state system set up soon, as within about two decades the Arabs will be close to being the majority in the region. Unless there are dramatic changes in birth rates, Israel is going to have to choose between “democracy” and “Jewish state” in the very near future. Judging by recent moves of the Sharon government, I get the feeling that a lot of people would prefer to dump democracy.

Now we can’t fault Israel for it’s actions…

  1. What’s most interesting in the aftermath of the airstrike is the lack of condemnation from some major diplomatic players. The Russian ambassador to the UN went so far as to say that Syria’s request for a UN condemnation would stand a better chance “if it were more balanced” – diplomatic code for “Give us a break: PIJ and PFLP are your boys, so don’t cry to us about them bringing their troubles home to you.”

  2. It’s also a bit cynical for the UN to undergo emergency condemnation meetings after Israeli strikes on PIJ/PFLP camps, but not to do so after PIJ/PFLP-claimed bombings inside Israel. As best I can determine, no deaths or injuries have been reported in the strike on the Syrian target – there are 19 dead in Haifa.

Haven’t our enemies (Saddam, Osama) already stated that most of their hatred is because of the presence of Israel, our support for them, and the palestinian ‘occupation’?

  1. Actually, no – Osama barely mentioned the Palestinian issue until after 9/11, when he sniffed out a winning cause and began thumping it in every audiotape. Prior to that, it’s actually quite difficult to find any al-Qaeda mentionings of Israel or Palestine. Osama’s concern has always been his native Saudi Arabia.

WTF are you talking about, whatever comparison you’re trying to draw is ridiculous. When a nation state unexpectedly attacks another nation state, that’s something the UN calls emergency meetings over. When domestic terrorists strike yet another target in any country in the world, the UN does not generally need to call emergency meetings because of it, whatever needs to be talked about generally is already being talked about.

When a nation state unexpectedly attacks another nation state…

At the risk of stating the tiresomely well-documented, Syria harbors both the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, both of which have claimed joint responsibility for the Haifa bombing.

The Syrian Government has continued to provide political and limited material support to a number of Palestinian groups, including allowing them to maintain headquarters or offices in Damascus. Some of these groups have committed terrorist acts, but the Syrian government insists that their Damascus offices undertake only political and informational activities. The most notable Palestinian rejectionist groups in Syria are the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS). Syria also continued to permit Iranian resupply, via Damascus, of Hizballah in Lebanon.

Question for you, Kalle – how long is a nation to be expected to tolerate attack by terrorist proxy before holding the state sponsor of that terrorism to account? By your rationale, the US “unexpectedly attack(ed) another nation state” when it responded to 9/11 by taking on the Taliban regime of Afghanistan.

[quote=“Daniel Morris”]

Question for you, Kalle – how long is a nation to be expected to tolerate attack by terrorist proxy before holding the state sponsor of that terrorism to account? By your rationale, the US “unexpectedly attack(ed) another nation state” when it responded to 9/11 by taking on the Taliban regime of Afghanistan.

How long you think before we should attack Saudi Arabia?

Did Israel announce this plan in advance? No. The act may or may not have been justified, but it was certainly a bombshell, so to speak, for the leaders of the world. Continued Palestinian terrorism, however, is not.

Give me a break, please. Do palestinian bombers announce their targets before striking? Not if they want to be successfull

mulligan, give me a break with what our “great leader” must do. He already thinks he’s doing “God’s Work” by taking out all the middle east countries who won’t bend over for us.

Yeah, sorry, that’s not enough. What’s he done for me lately?

Somebody has to take a stand with the isreal thing. Somebody has to do something instead of wait and see, wait and see, on the road, off the road, on again…nope, off again, more attacks, off again. Where’s that fucking map again?

Look, be realistic. Our major interest in the Middle East is the oil. As long as we get all we need, and we can prevent the terrorists from killing us, we’re somewhat happy and don’t give a damn what happens. These folks have been killing each other for thousands of years. It would be nice if they would stop but that ain’t realpolitik.

Sharon said he would do something like this about a year ago. I’m not sure it was widely reported outside of Israel (I was in Israel at the time), but he told Assad that if there were more attacks from terrorists supported by Syria, the bombs would start to fall on Damascus.

To be honest, I thought at the time that it was bombast, especially as he didn’t follow up for a long time. He may have made other threats in the meantime that weren’t reported either.

I’m still not sure what to think about the whole thing, although I have to admit that there’s a part of me that’s very pleased about it. Assuming it was really a terrorist training camp, Israel’s taken out a bunch of terrorists without harming any civilians.


If it was a training camp, more power to 'em. But that seems pretty unlikely. I mean, the woman who killed 19 people on the weekend certainly wasn’t spirited away to Syria for a suicide-bomber-training weekend. No suicide bombers are trained, as they really don’t need to do anything other than try to get into a crowded area and press a button. This site might have been a storehouse for explosives destined for Hamas and Islamic Jihad, of course, although Israel is specifically describing it as a training center. So, who did it train? Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders? In what? They seem to be more political and organizational figures than anything else, and they wouldn’t need a secret base to be trained in those duties.

Personally, I think the bombing’s a desperate act by a government that really has no ideas how to deal with these attacks. It certainly isn’t going to stop Palestinians from lining up to die. Also, it’s a great way to make sure that the Iranians plow ahead full steam on their nuclear weapons program. And a good reason for Syria to get in on the act and get on the hotline to Teheran or Pyongyang. All this does is destabilize the region even more.

I see it as a “shit, we can’t stop it, lets threaten Syria with bombs, maybe they can stop it.” idea.

It isn’t going to stop training, of course; it probably costs $10 to build one of those camps. All I can think of is that its a warning to Syria.

Suicide bombers aren’t given job-training as such, but IIRC they generally do attend camps for indoctrination purposes. At the least, the people who tell bombers to bomb and give them the bombs attend camps to learn how to convince people that blowing themselves up is a good idea.

The guys who plan the attacks get training. It might seem simple to strap a bunch of explosives and waltz across the border to find a good spot to blow yourself up, but it’s not. Also, the attacks (especially the non-suicide ones) have been getting more sophisticated, which does indicate some passing down of knowledge.

Jason, I think you’re right that it’s more of a warning to Syria to stay out of Israeli affairs than an attempt to deal with the terrorism problem. Syria has been waging war by proxy for over a decade, and I guess Sharon just wanted to make it explicit.

I’m still on the fence about this. On the one hand, it’s not very helpful in dealing with Israel’s major problem, the Palestinians–I think Sharon could have been much more effective by dismantling some settlements than by attacking Syria. OTOH, Syria’s had a free ride to derail the peace process, and has had the benefits of a war with Israel (whatever they might be) without any consequences, and it’d be nice to see them stop or at least pay a price.


No, but you can still hardly call the attacks unexpected. If there had been no bombings in Israel for years, then yes, the situations might be comparable, but as it is there’s been what, at least a bombing a month?

the ridiculousness of the above statement isn’t deserving of an answer.

the ridiculousness of the above statement isn’t deserving of an answer.[/quote]
I won’t venture to be able to answer for Kalle, but since this is about international diplomatic response to events, there is a difference, quite aside from all talk of morality and justice.