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US Orders Syria to Do the Impossible

The Meddlesome Mr. Bolton

by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

Is there a person anywhere in the world who still thinks there is an ounce of sanity in the Bush administration? If so, let that person read John Bolton’s orders to Syria in the January 24 online edition of the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Bolton is Bush’s unconfirmed ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton, a neoconservative warmonger, has managed to get the UN Security Council on January 23 to instruct Syria to disband and disarm the Lebanese militias. Bolton says, "I hope in Damascus they read it very carefully and then comply."

How is Syria to meet this demand?

Last year Syria complied with US demands to withdraw its troops from Lebanon. As Syria has no military presence in Lebanon, it could not disarm a local police force, much less the Shia militias that defeated the Israeli army and drove it out of Lebanon and that have representatives in the Lebanese parliament.

After three years and unimaginable expense, the superpower American military has proved that it cannot disarm the recently formed Iraqi militias. Yet, the idiot Bolton thinks puny Syria can disarm the Lebanese militias that defeated the brutal Israeli army!

Syria was never in Lebanon as a conquerer or invader, as the US is in Iraq and Israel is in the West Bank and Golan Heights. Syria was invited into Lebanon by the Lebanese government for peace-keeping purposes, adding the weight of its military to indigenous militias in order to create stability where US, Palestinian and Israeli bungling had brought disorder and massive bloodshed.

Until they were withdrawn, the Syrian troops were a counterweight to the Shia militias. Now that the Shia crescent is spreading from Iran through Iraq to Lebanon, the stupid neoconservatives are confronted with the error of their ways. The Bush administration was trying to set Syria up for US attack by demanding that they withdraw from Lebanon. The neocons thought Syria would refuse and thereby become a target for demonization and invasion.

Alas, the Syrians departed. And now the problem is how to turn back the Shia advance, which is increasing in power inside Lebanon as well through the Hizbullah and Amal movements. Bolton’s solution is a ridiculous attempt to turn Syria into a neocon proxy and to set it at war with the militias. Otherwise, Bolton intends to damn Syria for "noncompliance" and again threaten Syria with US invasion.

It will be interesting to see who Syria fears most, the militias that triumphed over Israeli military might or the US forces that have been defeated in Iraq.

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: pcroberts@postmark.net