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War, War, Beautiful War, As Far As the Eye Can See.

Reported by Marie Therese - June 8, 2007 -

Yesterday on Special Report, FOX News anchor Brit Hume asked a stunning, unsettling question - "Is another mideast war in the offing?"- referring not the war we all expect - the US attack on Iran - but to hostilities between Israel and Syria. Last summer we watched Israel decimate Lebanon. Now it seems that this summer's ritual bloodletting will move to Syria (and if George Bush has his way, to Iran as well). I feel like I'm watching some demented version of a modern-day Noh play, where emotionless, painted characters go through ancient, stylized movements leading to an inevitable and predetermined end, in this case, more loss of human life. Later in the show, Hume covered remarks made by the new War Czar, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, before the Senate Armed Service Committee. Lute was pessimistic about the Iraqi government's ability to hold up its end of the "surge" bargain, thus giving Bush a rationale for drawing down American forces sooner rather than later. With video.

After his initial zinger, Hume went on to say that "the two countries may be talking themselves into armed conflict as early as July."

FOX News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin noted that Israel has begun military urban warfare exercises, with soldiers practicing breaking down the doors of Syrian homes rather than Palestinian homes. "A series of Israeli war game exercises this week raised alarm bells in Damascus," Griffin said. "Israeli commandos stormed a mock Syrian village. It's the first time in years that the military built a Syrian rather than a Palestinian village to practice house to house fighting."

Griffins's report is confirmed by a January 22nd article in the Jerusalem Post, describing an IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) replica of an entire Arab city which they call the Urban Warfare Training Center.

From the Post article:

Around 500 structures were built for a maximum capacity of 5,000 residents. "Just like in every real city we built mosques, a Casba and even a refugee camp," said Lt.-Col Arik Moreh, the second in command of the Tactical Training City (TTC), part of the UTC, following a large urban warfare training exercise Monday morning.

Arab music was played in the background throughout the entire exercise, to get everyone in the mood.

In the center some of the houses' walls have holes, an imitation of those soldiers leave behind after breaking into houses and taking them over.

"This place was built as close as possible to reality. The density of the houses, the stores, a central plaza," said Moreh, adding that the exercise included mainly cadets from a commanders' course.

Griffin claimed that "escalating Syrian arms purchases" have disturbed the Israelis and precipitated these "war games". She then engaged in a typical bit of war mongering propaganda.

First, she said that there were "reports" that Syrian had "ordered" 50 Pantsyr S1E short-range gun and missile air defense systems from Russia. She did not offer any documentation for the "report," other than a statement by some guy named David Schenker from yet another think tank called "The Washington Institute" who said that the interesting thing about this sale is that it is being funded by Iran. (Surprise, surprise!) Schenker continued, claiming that "in exchange Iran will get 10 of these weapons."

Mr. Schenker offered no proof or documentation of his statement about Iran. However, because Schenker was dressed in a conservative dark suit and exuded confidence, the audience was supposed to believe his statement.

Aside: As it turns out David Schenker is employed by a front organization for a group of pro-Israeli hardliners. The think tank's full name is "The Washington Institute for Near East Policy" and its Board of Advisors includes Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Lawrence Eagleburger, R. James Woolsey, James Roche, George Schultz. Mort Zuckerman and Warren Christopher, among others. Although Winep started out as a bi-partisan, independent and therefore well-respected organization, since the advent of the Bush administration, it has lowered its standards and is now generally considered extremely pro-Israel.

From Le Monde Diplomatique, July 2003:

Winep had limited but significant connections to this circle [Jewish Institute for National Security (JINSA), American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Center for Security Policy (CSP) and Project for a New American Century (PNAC)] before [the Bush administration] assumed office. Richard Perle, the ideological father of the war against Iraq and until recently chair of the Defence Policy Board, was a member of the Jinsa board and also the Winep advisory board. His superior at the Pentagon, Deputy Secretary of Defence and fellow ultra-hawk Paul Wolfowitz, also sat on the Winep advisory board until he joined the Bush administration.

Winep has enhanced its credibility with the Bush administration by recently adding figures with solid neo-conservative credentials to its staff. Jonathan Schanzer, previously a research fellow at the Middle East Forum, is now a Soref fellow at Winep. The director of the Middle East Forum is Daniel Pipes, one of the loudest anti-Arab and anti-Muslim voices in the US. Pipes is now a Winep adjunct scholar. Max Abrahms, a Soref fellow specialising in Israeli security affairs, has been a columnist for National Review Online, a devoutly neo-conservative organ. Matthew Levitt, a senior fellow in terrorism studies and a former FBI analyst, also writes in the National Review Online, where he publicly supports counter-terrorism operations.

A Winep adjunct scholar, Joshua Muravchik, simultaneously works for the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Richard Perle’s home base. Michael Ledeen, holder of the AEI’s Freedom Chair, has formulated a doctrine that captures that institution’s ideological orientation: "Every 10 years or so, the US needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business" (6).

Winep’s opposition to the "road map" for Palestinian-Israeli peace clearly shows its con version to Likud-style thinking. Robert Sat loff objected to the road map on the grounds that it is based on "sham, even indecent, parallelism between Palestinian and Israeli behaviour". Muravchik endorsed Satloff’s views as "the most penetrating analysis" of the road map’s flaws (7).

During Jennifer Griffin's report for FOX News, she noted that Russia has denied that the Syrians have placed any orders for Pantsyrs. She then said that "US and Israeli intelligence have noticed Syrian troop movement near the Golan Heights and an unprecedented surge in Syrian arms purchases."

The whole tone and tenor of this report was built on the concept that war is a very real possibility. Only at the end, did Griffin suggest that perhaps the current tense situation would lead to renewed meetings between Israel and Syria - something that the Bush administration frowns on.

Noted historian Gabriel Kolko wrote the following as part of a concise, rational and well-written examination of the life-and-death issues facing the state of Israel today:

Making peace with Syria would be a crucial first step for Israel, and although the Palestinian problem would remain it would nonetheless vastly improve Israel’s security – and disprove the Bush’s Administration’s contention until very recently that negotiations with Syria or Iran on any Middle East question involves conceding to evil. The Israeli press reported in great detail the secret 2004-05 Israel-Syria negotiations, which were very advanced and involved major Syrian concessions – especially on water and Syrian neutrality in a host of political controversies with the Palestinians and Iranians. It also reported that Washington followed these talks closely and that it – especially Cheney’s office – opposed bringing them to a successful conclusion. At the end of January many important members of Israel’s foreign policy establishment publicly urged reopening these talks.

Dick Cheney and others like him, who make their living from the oil and war industries, will do everything they can to downplay or sabotage any peace efforts between Israel and Syria because it does not fit into their narrow little world-view, one in which even the act of speaking with one's enemies is seen as betrayal. Look no farther than the most recent attempt on the part of Congress to craft compromise legislation on the thorny issue of immigration. The bill was brought down because - as South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham pointed out - some in the Congress have a vested interest in believing that compromise is a dirty word.

In a subsequent segment Brit Hume discussed the sobering testimony of Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, who has been selected to be the Bush administration's point man on Afghanistan and Iraq. He offered a negative assessment of the ability of the current Iraqi government to implement the changes required for the "surge" to succeed.


N.B. Post updated to re-do several sentences that were colloquial in nature and difficult to understand. - MT