Somewhere on A1A...

Monday, April 14, 2003

I wish the war drums regarding Syria were not starting to beat so loudly. Assad has more headlines than Saddam in the last couple of days. HaAretz and The Jerusalem Post both weigh in. The NY Times runs two articles today. This week's Forward and all of the major news networks and CNN have stories on their web sites. It's all a bit scary.

In October Senator Bob Graham argued that we should not make Saddam our top enemy while groups like Hezbollah were so strong and active. He was arguably correct, but the fact that Hezbollah remains largely unaffected by the fall of Saddam should scare us all. Israel is right to focus attention on the terrorist threat from the north, but it will be much more difficult for the US to take any real action. Instead, we are left to hope that our performance in Iraq coupled with our thinly veiled warnings to Assad, will get Syria to stop supporting Hezbollah terrorists. Fat chance.

Most Americans are assuming that the Arabs will see us for the caring, free people we are as we create a free Iraq. Most Americans are not ready for a long and difficult battle against a determined core of Islamofascist terrorists who are angered and humiliated by the US presence in the middle of their world. We are just beginning a long and painful process. Creating a free and tolerant Iraq or at least a truly democratic Iraq is the right thing to do, but we should not kid ourselves by thinking we'll do it in 6 months or a year, or even 5 years.

It will take a long time to convince the Arabs that we truly stand for freedom and do not want to impose our will on Iraq for selfish or imperial reasons. By threatening Syria we are not earning any good will from the Arabs. Let’s hope the threat of force is enough to get Assad to change his behavior… but I’m not betting on it.

Too many in the world are hoping America will fail. Too many in the world will work to make America fail… including some of our allies. The battle is just beginning and our true friends are few. The only way to win is to be certain that a free Middle East is the goal and to be strong in our pursuit of the goal.


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