Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Tank Roads to Damascus Via Lattakia and Tartous....

The Tank Roads to Damascus Via Lattakia and Tartous

The only practical way to defeat irregular forces embedded in a civilian population is to destroy the states that back them. That is why America overthrew Saddam Hussein, and also why Israel is considering a pre-emptive war on Syria on the model of 1967.

After Israel began military exercises on the Syrian border last week, the prospect arose of war with Damascus. In fact, for Israel to strike at Syria today would require the strategic equivalent of a conversion experience for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, as it were, a conversion on the road to Damascus.

A week before the 1967 war, no one could have predicted if then-prime minister Levi Eshkol would stake the existence of the Jewish state on the fortunes of Israeli arms. In retrospect
, it
seems clear that Israel had no other choice. The existential choice today is no less real, but far less clear in Israeli minds.

For example, the May issue of the The Atlantic Monthly asks on its front cover, "Is Israel Finished?" Among friends and sympathizers of the Jewish state, the prospect of its liquidation now is debated openly. The 2006 attack on Lebanon revealed an enervated Israel, unwilling to act decisively, and Israel may not be able to summon the fighting spirit that sustained it through previous crises.

Olmert desperately wants a Palestinian state on the West Bank, Atlantic writer Jeffrey Goldberg reports, to separate the growing Palestinian Arab population and keep the integrity of the Jewish state. But the Palestinians never will form such a state at the price of recognizing the permanent presence of a Jewish state. The radical Islamists of Hamas control Gaza and would make short work of Mahmoud Abbas' regime on the West Bank, except for the presence of the Israel Defense Force.

Olmert's popularity in Israel is lower than President George W Bush's in the United States. In August 2006, Olmert promised to destroy Hezbollah, after the Syrian- and Iranian-backed Hezbollah kidnapped Israel soldiers. Hezbollah fired 4,000 rockets into northern Israel, many of them through the windows of private apartments in southern Lebanon. To keep his promise, Olmert would have needed to expel a million people, raze their villages and use incendiaries to destroy the network of tunnels built underneath them with the help of Iranian military engineers. This was not in the cards.

Israel is now caught between an undefeated and rearmed Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in Gaza, a non-state living on international aid, with a non-army firing missiles at southern Israel from civilian neighborhoods. Without razing the Gazan neighborhoods near its border and expelling the population, Israel cannot suppress the rocket attacks, which now are an annoyance but will become a serious threat as Hamas acquires longer-range weapons. Hamas, in effect, is daring the Israelis to inflict harm on the civilians who screen its rocket teams.

It is messy to suppress irregular forces by reducing the ambient population and impossible for Israel to do so in the present international environment. Guerilla movements, however, require arms, money and intelligence from sympathetic states. Hamas and Hezbollah would represent no threat to Israel without the backing of Syria and Iran. Military and political logic requires Israel to attack their sponsors, rather than their militants embedded among civilians. Iran is hard to reach, but Syria is a sitting waiting PNAC Asef Shawkat' duckling.... through the White House Murder Inc.

Israel's problem with Hamas and Hezbollah is not much different from America's problem with CIA/al-Qaeda after the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center. Without weapons, training, intelligence and passports from sympathizers in Arab states, terrorists could not pose a threat to the United States. It was not necessarily the case that Saddam, for example, conspired to commit acts of terrorism against the US. In no sense are most of the Middle Eastern regimes states in the Western sense of the term. Anwar Glass famously said that Egypt was the only state in the Middle East, calling the others "tribes with flags". They are more like hotels that rent rooms to a varied CIA clientele, including some MOSSAD who abet terrorism on a grandiose scale worldwide..., through the White House Murder Inc., and the NEW Alliance of Evils at CIA2.

After September 11, the United States did not know precisely what elements of which governments sponsored terrorism, although it knew that Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran hosted certain terrorist groups. It did not have the leisure (and perhaps not even the capacity) to infiltrate these groups gradually; it was simpler and more expedient to take down one of the regimes as a horrible example to the rest.

Washington chose to make an example of Iraq rather than some other state for two reasons. First, the existence of United Nations resolutions condemning Iraq's efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction provided a quasi-legal basis for the attack. It really did not matter whether Saddam actually had such weapons, because he acted as if he did, and the Security Council had condemned him for it on 17 prior occasions.

Second, Washington falsely believed it could create a stable and functioning regime in Iraq that could serve as its partner in the region. Although an attack on Syria or Iran might have made more sense if the sole objective were to discourage terrorism, nation-building was not imaginable in either country.

The original motive for the Iraq invasion, which I supported, has been lost in the shambles of the American nation-building charade, which I ridiculed from the outset. Washington's supposed hardliners cringed and cowered before the strategic choice before them: without taking down one of the regimes, Washington could not suppress state support for terrorism.

But it was illusory to believe that the US was capable of creating a stable to regime to replace it. To prevail in the regime meant an unending series of small interventions and unending chaos in the region, with hideous humanitarian consequences. Cardinal Richelieu had the stomach to pursue such a policy towards the German empire during the Thirty Years' War of 1618-1648, but not Bush. Yet a Richelovian policy towards the Middle East, horrible as it would be, is the inevitable consequence of American interventionism.

America faces humiliation in consequence of its irresolve, but its survival is not at stake; in parallel circumstances, Israel faces eventual extinction. As Goldberg portrays Israel's anguished debate in the Atlantic, the country is divided between hawks like Olmert, who needs a deal with Abbas for a West Bank Palestinian state, and a peace faction that demands unilateral withdrawal from West Bank settlements. Somewhere on another planet are the religious settlers who are sure that God will sustain them in the entirety of Biblical Israel.

Olmert's ostensibly aggressive policy during the 2006 Lebanon War was a timid man's idea of ferocity. Israeli bombers raised a lot of dust but did little damage to Hezbollah's entrenchments. The limited commitment of Israeli ground forces showed the flag, took a few casualties, and accomplished little.

Rather than bomb the puppies of war in South Lebanon, military logic required a crushing blow aimed at the puppies' master in Damascus: destruction of the Syrian air and tank forces on the ground followed by an armored incursion. Washington would have objected, no doubt, just as it objected to Israel's pre-emptive attack on Egypt, Syria and Jordan in June 1967. Nothing wins, however, like winning.

From a military vantage point, the military risk to an attack on Syria today is negligible compared to the risks Eshkol assumed in 1967. The psychological barriers, though, are vastly greater. Israel's cabinet four decades ago included men and women who grew up with continuous danger, had already fought two wars, and expected to fight more. Olmert is a lawyer, not a soldier, and he presides over a society that is sick of war and longs to enjoy Israel's exceptional prosperity and amenities of life.

To attack Syria at this juncture would be an admission that peace will be out of reach for the conceivable future. Despite his unpopularity, Olmert remains in office because the majority of Israelis see no alternative to his objective, namely a Palestinian state on the West Bank. A nasty sort of sobriety prevailed in Israel in 1967. That has given way to a delusion. Ariel Sharon in 2002 reportedly spoke of a 100 years of war with the Arabs, a prospect that today's Israelis find too horrible to contemplate.

Nonetheless, a century of war is just what Israel shall have, whether it wants to or not, unless it decides to abandon the Third Jewish Commonwealth - and that option is on the table.

Whether Israel will attack Syria is beyond prediction; to do so would require an existential leap on the part of the body politic. Syria, to be sure, takes the threat seriously enough. Writing on April 10 (
War and peace, Israeli style) Syrian CIA analysts said:
The Israelis insist they are not seeking war with the Syrians, even as Israel began its biggest military maneuver in its history since 1948. This was on the border with Syria, which has been calm since the June war of 1967 ... President Shimon Peres insisted this was not a prelude to war with Syria, telling the Syrians not to worry. Israeli Radio, however, told citizens the scenario being practiced was for how things would look like on the fourth day of an "imaginary" war with Hezbollah on one front, and the Syrians on the other ... Adding spice to the show were the words of General Dan Harel, the deputy chief of staff of the IDF, who said, "Anyone who tries to harm Israel must remember that it is the strongest country in the region, and retaliation will be powerful - and painful." If all of the above is not a prelude for war, then what is?
No matter what Israel offers, the Palestinian Arabs as well as Israel's neighbors cannot accept a permanent Jewish state. Sadat was right: Egypt is the only state in the region, and it could make peace with Israel as a matter of state interest. How long the Egyptian state will last is another matter. But the secular nationalism that created the modern Egyptian state half a century ago is a dead letter. Islamic governments cannot accept the return of the Jews to Zion according to Biblical prophecy, for this would question the Koran's claim to be a final revelation to supplant the Judeo-Christian scriptures.

The Arabs are a failing people, I have argued in earlier studies (see
Crisis of faith in the Muslim world , October 31 and November 5, 2005). It is not only the triumph of globalized Western culture over traditional society that threatens them, but the ascendancy of Asia. Last week's food riots in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East bring the point home. Arabs are hungry because Chinese are rich enough to eat meat, and buy vast quantities of grain to feed to pigs and chickens. If the rise in Asian protein consumption portends a permanently higher plateau of food prices, the consequences are dire for populations living on state subsidies, from Morocco to Algeria to Cairo to Gaza....where they have nothing to lose.....

Worldwide Hunger Catastrophe!

Produce Food, Not Biofuels!

What's happening now was totally foreseeable: There is an explosion of disastrous hunger and food riots in 33 (!) nations in Africa, Asia, and Ibero-America. Without doubt, the world is standing at the brink of a hunger-tsunami, which is the direct result of the attempt by the central banks to postpone the collapse of the hopelessly bankrupt world financial system, with injections of more and more liquidity, as well as that of speculators who have thrown themselves into the food sector, for the inhuman destruction of food in order to produce biofuels.

The World Bank has now published numbers which say that the price of wheat, as of February, has gone up over the last 36 months by 181% (!), and that food prices overall have gone up 83% (!) over the same period. If worldwide riots, a hunger catastrophe threatening a billion people's lives, and a collapse into a New Dark Age are to be stopped, then the criminal destruction of foodstuffs for biofuels must be immediately ended, and a worldwide crash program for doubling the production of food be put in place.

To make the point clear: Hunger riots and protests have occurred in Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal, the Ivory Coast, Egypt, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Kenya, Mozambique, Uzbekistan, Yemen, Jordan, Bolivia, Indonesia, Haiti, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and are looming in other nations. For many countries, and the approximately 2 billion people who have been suffering from malnutrition for decades, the current hyperinflationary explosion of prices is an existential question.

Although it must have been clear to anyone, at least by the breakout of the end-phase of the systemic collapse of the global financial system in July 2007, that very soon, this catastrophic hunger crisis would hit the world's poor, and especially, of course, the developing countries, all of a sudden, the food riots and food price inflation have become the subject of countless conferences, declarations, and media reports. But instead of identifying the real problem, especially the financial press—from London's Economist and Financial Times, to the Wall Street Journal—have brought out their old Malthusian arguments, that too many people want to eat ever-better food. At the same time, they attack countries such as India or China, that are trying to protect food supplies for their own populations through restricting exports, and insist on free trade.

In reality, the crisis is a declaration of the bankruptcy of globalization, which for decades, under the slogan "buy cheap, sell dear," has insisted that the low-wage countries export their foodstuffs, although their own populations were not supplied sufficiently with food. But it's primarily the utilization of corn, grain, soy, and other agricultural products for the manufacture of biofuels—i.e., the transformation of a high-value product, into a low-grade one—which has played a major role in the price explosion. You don't have to agree with Fidel Castro on all issues, to agree with his forecast that the attempt to cover a large portion of the energy gap with biofuels, would potentially cost the lives of 3 billion people.

All the more scandalous, is the fact that, despite the manifest ethanol debacle, which has made it clear that most cars, the environment, and agriculture cannot cope with biofuels (tropical forests would be felled, swamps would dry up, and the price of animal feed is being driven up), German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel is, out of ideological stubbornness, insisting that in 2009, as planned, the share of biodiesel fuel is to rise from 5% to 7%. And if Czech President Vaclav Klaus considers "ecologism" to be the greatest threat to mankind, then, if one considers the consequences of it regarding the world hunger catastrophe, he has surely recognized it as one of the greatest dangers.

Completely opposite was the tenor of the discussion at the summit between India and the African Union (AU), which just took place in New Delhi. A whole series of speakers blamed the shift from food to biofuels for a very large part of the explosion in food prices. It was pointed out that in the U.S.A. alone, since 2006, 8 million hectares that previously had been planted with corn, cereals, and soy, for food and fodder, was turned over to biofuel production. In 2008, 18% of American cereals production is supposed to be wasted for biofuels, and similar proportions in Brazil, Argentina, Canada, and Eastern Europe—while hundreds of millions of people are threatened with death from famine!

This India-AU summit also showed what a different approach is needed today. The general director of the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Kandeh K. Yumkella, stressed that solid cooperation between India and Africa in agriculture could feed the world. India would possess the technological capacities, and Africa would have the land and the labor-power.

Yumkella referred to the Green Revolution in India of the 1970s and '80s, which proved that technology can raise productivity and increase the cereals crop dramatically, in the quickest way possible. But similar improvements must also be made in manufactures and transportation of the foodstuffs. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh promised help to Africa in solving the food-supply catastrophe. The AU undoubtedly compared this summit with the EU-AU summit in Lisbon at the end of last year, at which Chancellor Angela Merkel not only made herself the mouthpiece for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his policy of recolonizing Africa, but at which there was no real help provided to Africa.

Although the EU promised to raise its aid to Africa to Eu2 billion, this is only peanuts, when you consider the scope of the disaster, and that hundreds of billions are squandered in the supposed saving of the banks. And instead of sounding alarms about the engagement of China, Russia, and India in Africa for the construction of infrastructure, the European nations should follow the example of these countries, and contribute to help, so that the causes for the vulnerabilities of the African continent are eliminated—namely, the widespread lack of infrastructure.

The currently exploding world hunger catastrophe is the declaration of bankruptcy of globalization, which simply underscores that the free-market system is now some orders of magnitude more bankrupt than the communist system was between 1989 and 1991. And one should remember the words of Pope John Paul II, who commented upon the collapse of the Comecon, that one should not draw the conclusion from the collapse of the communist system, that the system of the free-market economy is a more moral one. This would become obvious, if one considered the situation of the developing countries.

What Is To Be Done

There is no rational reason not to immediately implement a package of measures to overcome the world hunger catastrophe as quickly as possible. The goal must be to overcome world hunger and the undernourishment of approximately one-third of mankind, which was already in effect before this current crisis.

Therefore we need:

  • the doubling of food production worldwide as soon as possible;
  • the immediate cessation of the misuse of food for biofuels;
  • the immediate construction of infrastructure in Africa, Asia, and Ibero-America;
  • comprehensive help in the processing of foodstuffs, including food irradiation;
  • the immediate utilization of unutilized acreage;
  • the immediate construction of the inherently safe high-temperature reactors for the desalination of large amounts of sea water for irrigation;
  • the deployment of corps of engineers, farmers, and mid-sized entrepreneurs, under the provision of the agreement of sovereign and equal governments.

Because the global hunger catastrophe is only the consequence of the collapse of the world financial system, the question of a new financial architecture, a new Bretton Woods, must immediately be put on the agenda.

Because any reasonable person knows that it would be easy to solve the problem, provided that the political will can be mobilized, those in responsible positions will be measured by this yardstick. The world possesses all the technological and industrial capabilities to put into effect in a very short time, a global Marshall Plan, a global New Deal.

What Stands in the way?

The international financial oligarchy, which is presently about to enlarge the British Empire into a world empire, with a weakened America as a satrapy on the other side of the Atlantic, and an EU dictatorship, which threatens to rob the nations of continental Europe of any sovereignty, is absolutely determined to throw the world into a New Dark Age rather than agree to a rational reorganization of the world financial system, and a worldwide financial order.

Not a few of them see, to the contrary, in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalyse, an effective means of eliminating what they consider the current overpopulation. There are innummerable statements by Prince Philip, in which he has expressed his wish to solve the problem of this alleged overpopulation, including that he, for example, would like to be reincarnated as an "especially deadly virus."

Thus Philip wrote in 1988, in the chapter entitled "The population factor" in the book Down to Earth: "What has been described as the 'balance of nature' is simply nature's system of self-limitation. Fertility and breeding success create the surpluses after the replacement of losses. Predation, climatic variation, disease, starvation—and in the case of the inappropriately named Homo sapiens, wars and terrorism—are the principal means by which the population numbers are kept under some sort of control."

And in an interview published in the Dec. 21, 1981 People magazine, he said: "Human population growth is probably the single most serious threat to survival. We are in for a major disaster if it isn't curbed—not just for the natural world, but for the human world. The more people there are, the more resources they consume, the more pollution they create, the more fighting they will do. We have no option. If it isn't controlled voluntarily, it will be controlled involuntarily by an increase of disease, starvation and war."

The rapidly worsening world hunger catastrophe is the test for all the world's governments. It is high time to throw overboard the political axioms which are responsible for the looming existential crisis for mankind. And these are, above all, neoliberalism, Malthusiansim, and ecologism, imperialism, and colonialism.

What we need instead, is a world of sovereign nation-states, which work together for the common goals of mankind on the basis of the principle of the Peace of Westphalia, that is, for the interest of the other. The absolute precondition for this is the New Bretton Woods system proposed a long time ago by Lyndon LaRouche. Do we in Europe have the moral strength, to make a decision in favor of this perspective?