Ray Close on the Israeli Sept. 6 Air Raid on Syria

This from Ray Close (ex-CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia)

Dear Friends:

More thoughts about the ongoing mystery surrounding the Israeli air raid on Syria of September 6, 2007:

I still believe that the final truth, whenever it is revealed, will prove to be a major embarrassment for both the Bush administration and the Israelis — and possibly some Arabs. There MUST have been a colossal screw-up by some or all of those who planned, approved and implemented the action.  I can think of no other plausible explanation for Bush's angry and petulant refusal to give the White House press corps a polite and informative reply to their repeated questions — and for the administration's apparent failure so far to brief many of the key members of the appropriate committees of Congress —— of either party.  If it could be represented as a necessity, and as the successful treatment of a real and imminent threat to the vital national interests of either the United States or Israel, then why the hell not step up and explain your actions and the reasons that justified it?

As an aside:  I hope the rumors are false that the Jordanians, Egyptians and Saudis all approved of the Israeli raid when they were (allegedly) briefed in advance (possibly by Dick Cheney in person, without the knowledge of Condi Rice and Bob Gates) that it was coming. How foolish it would have been for any Arab government to approve such an Israeli action, because they should all know from sad experience that sooner or later the secret would leak out, to their acute distress. 

In my mind, the biggest question remains the degree of American involvement in the planning and implementation of the raid.  Even if the target was really the beginnings of a nuclear weapons plant, the justification for preemptive military action would be very weak, considering the fact that it would be many years before we could justifiably claim that Syria posed an imminent nuclear threat to Israel.  Much more important, in the full measure of things, is the damage that another unjustified preemptive attack would do to the critical objective of fortifying the weak and wobbling system of international rules and controls to prevent widescale proliferation of nuclear weapons.  Today, destroying a pathetically crude and ill-advised Syrian attempt to begin a nuclear program might impress some people as striking a blow for freedom, but it would in fact be a major defeat for the larger goal of supporting civilized implementation of an international rule of law.  If George Bush and Dick Cheney have helped to undermine that vitally important overarching objective by involving America in another unjustified and unwarranted violation of international law in this case, then they will have done us all a disservice of major historical importance. 

(By the way, if the goal was to send a warning signal to Iran, then that message has been thoroughly obscured in the fog of Foggy Bottom.  Yesterday, in speaking of the Israeli raid, Condi Rice said archly:  "Iran, take note!"  Take note of WHAT, Madam Secretary?  If your own Senate Foreign Relations Committee has not been given a coherent explanation of what happened, how to you expect Ahmedinajad to know what you're talking about? Are you saying that if Iran misbehaves, we will send the Israeli Air Force to teach them a lesson? What does that tell the world about the quality of the American president's world leadership role?)

One cannot minimize the fact that American collusion with Israel in such an offensive act would be a disastrous blow to our relationships with our few remaining Arab friends.  We got away with that many years ago at the time of the Israeli attack on the Iraqi nuclear facility at Osirak (which, we should be reminded, the United States officially condemned as illegal at the time), but today it's a different Middle East, and we have no reserve of goodwill capital to fall back on.  How would the Egyptian, Jordanian and Saudi governments, for example, explain and justify such action today by its so-called US ally?

Finally, we might all hold out some hope that the Bush administration's refusal to be transparent on this issue is because they attach a higher priority to keeping alive the prospects of a constructive peace conference on Palestine-Israel scheduled to be held sometime next month at Annapolis. 

However, if that is the case, then it tells us three very significant things:

     1.  The Israeli leadership attaches a higher priority to restoring the credibility of its military dominance over its neighbors than it does to supporting American diplomatic efforts to advance the peace process — on which Israel's real security ultimately depends;

     2.  The (supposedly) most powerful and influential leader is the whole world is unable or unwilling to persuade the leader of tiny little Israel that reaching a viable peace settlement in the region deserves a higher priority than obliterating an empty building hundreds of miles from anywhere in the remote Syrian desert.  George Bush, in other words, lacks the political courage and the moral stature to say to his Israeli friend:  "Cool it, Ehud.  I have more important problems to deal with right now.  Don't ask for my help in undertaking a spectacular diversion of strictly minor significance, for your personal political benefit, just at a time when I am involved in much more critical and delicate undertakings."

     3.  The Bush administration is too cowardly to admit to the American people and to the world the truth of the two points just mentioned above.

Ray Close

Comments (48)


1. Gliker said:

Or maybe not.

We are all just speculating, from both sides of this ‘war’.

Arabists, like Ray, want the raid to be a collosal failure and Pro Israelis are dreaming of Entebbe II to enhance an image of invulnerability.

Neither is probably true.

No one knows, not me, not Joshua, not Ray Close and not any countless webzines & newspapers who have speculated.

But it is fun to speculate.

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October 28th, 2007, 7:06 pm

 

2. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Ray Close forgets one very large and inconvenient detail that explains all of Bush’s actions: The agreement with North Korea on dismantling their nuclear facilities by the end of the year.

And he is absolutely not correct about congress leaders from both sides not being briefed. They have been briefed and have expressed doubts about the North Korean deal because of it:
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/25/washington/25weapons.html?ref=world

The Bush administration is juggling many balls at the same time and best compromise at this stage is remaining low key. Pushing forward the facts of the Israeli attack would sabotage the North Korea deal.

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October 28th, 2007, 7:23 pm

 

3. majedkhaldoun said:

George Bush refusal to discuss the issue ,proves that the facts will embarrass both Israel and USA

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October 28th, 2007, 8:11 pm

 

4. T said:

There are those who know. And its not that difficult, the news even trickled down to the streets of Beirut. But it wouldnt justify a preemptive strike- while claiming the site had the gravity of a nuke plant might be able to squeak by and mollify allies.
US quiet on the affair? Because it was a joint US-Israeli attack? Or was it just dual-citizen pilots? We know the planes ultimately originated w/ US of course, but it is much more than that.
As 6 of the Minot Airforce Base pilot/loaders in that Barksdale nuclear missile flight fiasco died in accidents shortly after that incident was leaked to the press, it is unlikely that any conscience-stricken US pilots in this operation will ever open their mouths, had they ever been so inclined.
But any real info can always be wiped away with a FEMA-style press conference w/ FEMA “reporters” in the audience. Tacitly admitting that our press corp is about the same caliber! Governments then, like people “ooze self-betrayal”. This whole saga is a farce.

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October 28th, 2007, 9:20 pm

 

5. Observer said:

North Korea just grounded its military aircraft for lack of fuel. They have the nuclear card and the large conventional army card to play with and both if used in any military confrontation would spell the end of the countryand the regime. If the building is NK nuclear reactor plant given or sold to Syria, then how is bombing it going to scuttle the negotiations is beyond me. How would the leaking of the information scuttle it or even officially bragging about it scuttle it. The North can walk away from the talks and so what, the six party talks have been going on for some years and they can go on for a few more. This is a fiasco, and I believe the reason for the secrecy is mainly not to embarrass the three stooges: Abdallah I & II and La Vache qui Rit Hosni.

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October 28th, 2007, 11:32 pm

 

6. norman said:

I wonder if Syria is staying silent waiting for Israel and the US to claim that it was a nuclear instilation , then and only then will let the IAEA in to show the world stupid they were.

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October 29th, 2007, 12:10 am

 

7. why-discuss said:

Norman
I wonder if Syria is staying silent waiting for Israel and the US to claim that it was a nuclear instilation , then and only then will let the IAEA in to show the world stupid they were.

Excellent point. The Syrians seems to be playing smarter than the Olmert’s and Bush’s pathetic administrations.

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October 29th, 2007, 1:02 am

 

8. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Wow! Denial is changing to delusion. It makes a lot of sense for Syria to try to acquire a nuclear weapon. Why can’t you believe the facts in front of you?

What will Syria show the IAEA, the cleaned site? Very helpful that will be.

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October 29th, 2007, 1:38 am

 

9. Morgan said:

Although we still have to speculate as to the facts, the passage of almost eight weeks without any conclusive version of what happened is a strong indication that whatever US/Israel wanted to get out of this exercise, they didn’t succeed. At best, they’ve been able to make unsubstantiated claims, which they’ve had to leak through third parties.

Such leaking is the behaviour of organisations that want to be able to distance themselves if the issue subsequently goes pear-shaped – which it now appears to be doing, with recent news that far from being a recent construction, the site appears in Geo-eye imagery taken in 2003. Independent imagery that doesn’t confirm the preferred version of events could be very unhelpful, raising lots of questions about who knew what when (and if they say they didn’t know, were they asleep or are they lying?)

Problem is, USA has got a lot of credibility to make up after the Iraq intelligence debacles. Unless they can produce rock-solid, independently-verifiable evidence of something amiss on this issue, they’ll only add to the international community’s scepticism.

Syria might well have had something it would prefer not to talk about at this site, but if a policy of “ambiguity” is good enough for Israel and accepted by the USA, how can they expect to have their calls for Syria to tell all taken seriously?

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October 29th, 2007, 2:00 am

 

10. why-discuss said:

AIG

Why can’t you believe the facts in front of you?

Facts? what facts? are you joking? Awkward apologies of pathetic Olmert to the turks, old satellite stuff and elucubrations of the US media. Of course UN experts are all dummies for Israel, they only believe in NY times Judith Miller alike!
The only fact I see is Israel’s paranoia of nuclear development in ennemies countries that can threat its suprematie and existence.
Violence leads to more violence: It seems that the only cure is that Israel should make more efforts and sacrifices toward peace and not toward provocations.

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October 29th, 2007, 4:11 am

 

11. abraham said:

I can’t disagree with anything Ray Close writes, but for one thing: it’s not that George Bush is too timid to tell Olmert to cut it out (though he is a cowardly mule) it’s that he wants Israel to be doing these things, and perhaps he’s even ordering them to do them.

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October 29th, 2007, 11:34 am

 

12. abraham said:

Hahaha, there goes AIG with his “facts” again.

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October 29th, 2007, 11:37 am

 

13. Laurie King-Irani said:

Thanks Ray Close for interesting and informed analysis.

It’s all a further chapter in what Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch aptly termed the Bush Administration’s global jihad on international law and multilateral institutions just after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

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October 29th, 2007, 2:05 pm

 

14. Zenobia said:

AIG seems to lack any imagination in answering his own question about why Syria would not volunteer to have a tour of the site.
there are so many reasons, internally political, psychological, geo-political, reasons that in no way point to a conclusion of their guilt.

none of us knows what the reality is, of course. but…. it would shock me..if the Syrian gov’t spontaneously said come on in!….. even if the site was nothing other than a warehouse. It would be utterly and completely out of character. and the Syrian citizens would disrespect their leaders for submitting to the Israelis and Americans putting them in this position.

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October 29th, 2007, 2:28 pm

 

15. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Zenobia,
If the site were a hospital, would the Syrian government have invited journalists to inspect it?

I can imagine many things but I limit my imagination to what a rational player like Asad would do that is in his best interest. If pride was the Asad motivation, he would have retaliated to Israel’s attack.

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October 29th, 2007, 2:44 pm

 

16. IsraeliGuy said:

********
“If pride was the Asad motivation, he would have retaliated to Israel’s attack.”
********

AIG, Assad can still retaliate and it won’t surprise me if he will.

Bear in mind that a retaliation doesn’t necessarily mean an all out war or even a limited military strike on Israel.

He can also retaliate through terrorism in Israel or abroad: Israeli embassies, Jewish institutions, airliners, cruise ships, etc.

These types of attacks take time to plan an execute.

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October 29th, 2007, 3:00 pm

 

17. Zenobia said:

AIG.
of course if it were a hospital- they would exploit that as something to publicize.

but the bombing of a warehouse…wouldn’t have the same impact at all.

and the point is we dont’ know what it was.

If it were in the capability of the Syrians to strike back, i am sure they would consider that or just do it. But they are not suicidal. and they know perfectly well that biting the bait and starting an actual war with Israel- would lead to even more humiliation when they got clobbered.

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October 29th, 2007, 3:50 pm

 

18. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Zenobia,

A civillian warehouse would have had an impact as it would show Israel as aggressors and prove that the Israeli/US intelligence is wrong. It would hurt Israel’s and the US credibility immensely and make the case against attacking Iran very strong.

Look, you have to be consistent with the pride argument. If they are driven by pride, they would retaliate even if it is against their interests. However, if they can swallow their pride, then it would be strange that they did not act in their own interests and invite journalists to the site. Unless of course it is a nuclear site. Which is why I believe it is.

Asad is not driven by pride. He manipulates Arab pride to stay in power but he himself is very flexible and will do what he needs to keep the regime afloat.

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October 29th, 2007, 4:02 pm

 

19. SimoHurtta said:

If the site were a hospital, would the Syrian government have invited journalists to inspect it?

AIG would Israel bomb hospitals? If not, your question is stupid, even you obviously seem to be thinking that it is a clever argument.

By the way in modern hospitals are used radioactive materials in several treatments.

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October 29th, 2007, 4:19 pm

 

20. why-discuss said:

AIG

If they are driven by pride, they would retaliate even if it is against their interests.

Bashar is proud but not suicidal. Sometimes aggressive-passivity is a wiser response to overt aggresivity.

Following your logic, is Israel not proud enough after being allegedly threatened by Ahamadinejad to reply to this by bombing Iran??? Realistic men in Israel know it would be suicidal. But you seem to adhere to the primitive eye for a eye concept. It looks that for you revenge does not embarass itself with killing innocents… Great philosophy of life!

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October 29th, 2007, 4:49 pm

 

21. Alex said:

AIG,

It has been few days we did not quote wikipedia’s defense mechanisms page.

Don’t worry, I won’t do that now : )

But I want to offer a suggestion that might make it easier to understand how Bashar (or anyone else who is rational enough) takes complex decisions.

Look at Decision theory, which is sometimes a conscious process and sometimes not so conscious, where one evaluates many options before one picks his optimal decision. It is a way to estimate your expected utility from each decision option you might take… like mathematical expectation in business decisions.

Notice that there are many options. You seem to usually consider the extreme options only… for example: to retaliate or not. There might be other options in between.

Notice also that probability of success in reaching our desired goals play a major role in determining the most attractive decision. When complex decision are taken, we need to take into account these probabilities which vary from one decision to the other.

Since these days you are thinking about Syria’s decision to not take journalists on a tour of the bombed area, try to put yourself in Bashar’s shoes … estimate all the relevant probabilities of achieving your desired outcomes … and you will know which option (of many options) Bashar decided to take.

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October 29th, 2007, 5:10 pm

 

22. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Why,
If the international community does not stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, Israel will attack Iran. I am sure of it. It is not suicidal and is something Israel must do. So I really don’t understand your example. Are you implying that if Iran now shot a missile at Israel, Israel would not retaliate because it would be “suicidal”? It may be “suicidal” but not for Israel.

The bottom line though is that Asad is not about pride, he is about survival of the regime.

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October 29th, 2007, 5:15 pm

 

23. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

I am very familiar with decision theory.

It seems to me that following an attack you can do one of two things: retaliate or not. Now, retaliation may take many forms but that is another matter.

And my analysis is based on comparing the two decision trees I think Asad would have for the case that the site is nuclear and for the case that it isn’t. Now, knowing what his actual decisions were (cleaning the site, not bringing journalist) my conclusion is that the site is a nuclear one since his actions are much more compatible with the nuclear site decision tree.

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October 29th, 2007, 5:25 pm

 

24. Alex said:

AIG … Why’s example is relevant .. but the probabilities of success in Israel/Iran’s case and in Syria/Israel’s case are different.

Again, it is not about “Suicide” … or any other extremes.

Use probabilities and you won’t have that many disagreements with others here.

In the case of Bashar’s two decision trees (in case of nuclear/not nuclear) … I would like to suggest that YOUR DECISION to conclude it was nuclear was taken to a large extent because you are trying to maximize the utility that suits you… which in this case is: proving that Israel is moral and right in its decisions (to bomb Syria in this case)

YOu and I are not neutral enough to estimate Bashar’s decision tree.

Otherwise, I really don’t think you went through the exercise of examining Bashar’s earlier decision … to supposedly decide to start a nuclear weapons program given how unlikely that Syria has the money or technical skills or the need to develop such weapons.

And you did not look at the major negative utility function .. the one that comes from the fact that Israeli satellites WILL catch the facility and Israel WILL bomb it … there is certainty associated with this factor and that means it is a dominant factor in Bashar’s early decision to built or not to built a nuclear weapons factory.

Let me ask you this question:

Since you and IG and the rest of Israelis are sure Iran will use its nuclear weapons agaist Israel … why should Syria go through the trouble???

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October 29th, 2007, 5:26 pm

 

25. IsraeliGuy said:

Alex, is it possible that my comment to this post is stuck in the anti spam filter?

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October 29th, 2007, 5:30 pm

 

26. Alex said:

IG,

I released it.

It was.

SimoHurrta too. Your comment is now above.

By the way, from my observations, I think that the following factors can increase the probability that your comments might be considered SPAM by that filter:

1) if your email is bogus… like bbb@bbbb.com
2) if you use many links and html code in your message .. I do, and so does Simohurrta.
3) if you use a lot of special formatting characters like:

********
———————-

all these can be found in advertising messages.

By the way … my comments are the ones that go to spam most often. It seems that spammers decided that their favorite “name” is Alex … half the SPAM messages are from “Alex”-like names … ALexbjx AlexYTS AlexKPR …

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October 29th, 2007, 5:39 pm

 

27. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Sim,
So Israel does not make mistakes does it? Of course it does.
If Israel would have attacked a meaningless warehouse, the Syrians would have exploited it just as they would have exploited the fact that Israel had mistakenly bombed a hospital.

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October 29th, 2007, 5:51 pm

 

28. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

You can suggest what you like but you are incorrect.
In my opinion your mistake is that you don’t take into consideration the huge utility for the regime of obtaining an a-bomb. That is why Asad decided to take the risks.

Israeli intelligence is not perfect and Asad hoped that Israel would not be decisive about attacking the site until it is too late.

For example, let’s say Israel knew about the reactor. If I would have said to Why-discuss that Israel would attack the Syrian reactor he would say that Israel would never do it because it is not suicidal or because it is afraid of Syrian and Iranian reaction. I think Asad underestimated the probability that Israel would act decisively. This case also exists now, I estimate that if sanctions don’t work there is a 95% chance that Iran will be attacked. What is your estimate or Why’s?

As for technical expertise and money. Clearly, Iran and Syria are working together and most of the funding came from Iran and the expertise from North Korea. It all makes perfect sense.

You are thinking about the interests of Syria but these are very different than the interests of the regime. That is your mistake. It is Bashar’s decision trees that we should be looking at, not Syria’s.

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October 29th, 2007, 6:07 pm

 

29. Alex said:

AIG,

before I go back to work I will suggest one more thing (where you will tell me that I am worng)

Most of your estimates are biased.

How biased?

You assume that Bashar goes to work everyday only thinking anout these things: how can I steal more money from my country .. how can I put more political opponents in jail … how can I help Masshaal kill more Israelis, how can I ensure I stay in power.

This would be as good a foundation for understanding your enemy as an Arab thinking that Israeli prime ministers go to work everyday thinking: How can I kill more Arab Children and pregnant women … how can I uproot more olive trees, how can I convince the Americans to create conditions that lead to more civil wars in more Arab countries .. how can I build more settlements and confiscate more Arab lands … how can I humiliate Muslims and Arabs even more …

It takes a lot to estimate probabilities that others already estimates … you certainly can not do it if you are as emotionally involved as you obviously are in these questions.

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October 29th, 2007, 6:28 pm

 

30. Zenobia said:

AIG, yes Assad is thinking about staying in power.
but i would argue that this depends on him responding in a way that is both realistic AND doesn’t seem to be making any concessions or to be submitting to the West.

He could retaliate militarily, but this would be a disaster. He maintain face for the leadership…most by doing nothing and preventing outsiders from forcing an investigation. He seems to maintain the nations pride…(in a messed up way albeit) by being stubborn and non-cooperative.
this the syrian way. the public likes it.
it is not your or my idea of a response that is noble. but negative static uncooperation has remained the MO.
It seems to work best for the gov’t in terms of not getting destroyed and keeping the public subdued and content with defiance of the West.

I think the idea that Syria would venture to start a nuclear project because they underestimate the Israelis knowledge and will to act aggressively is absurd.
NOBODY underestimates the extremeness of the military actions of Israel after the summer war in Lebanon last year.

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October 29th, 2007, 6:33 pm

 

31. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Zenobia,

Yes, the Lebanese war did show that Nasrallah severely understimated how Israel would respond. But you forget one simple fact: the Syrian nuclear project was started in 2001-2003, after Israel left Lebanon and was not reacting to the frequent Hizballah provocations and way before the current war. Israel leaving Lebanon and its reaction to Hizballah between 2000 and the Lebanon war, caused both Nasrallah and Asad to underestimate Israel’s willingness to act decisively.

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October 29th, 2007, 6:41 pm

 

32. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

We have seen decades of Hafez+Bashar rule and know one thing: first and foremost they go to work each day thinking how to make sure the regime survives. All the other things you describe are just tools to reach their goal. And if this is a bias I have, it is a bias most Syria observers in the west have and also most Syrians I think. I would be happy to hear Syrian opinions on this. Is Bashar thinking about the welfare of Syrians or is his main interest staying in power?

The Israeli prime minister goes to work each day thinking: How do I make sure I get re-elected? That is his main goal. But since we get to choose him, it is often the case that what gets him re-elected is him doing things that are good for us. And if he does not, we fire him.

See the difference?

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October 29th, 2007, 6:50 pm

 

33. Alex said:

So … you are saying that in 2003 Prime mister Sharon gave the Arabs the impression he is soft and sweet? … he will see satellite images of Syria’s nuclear weapons facilities and he would be too weak to respond?

Prime minister Sharon??

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October 29th, 2007, 6:51 pm

 

34. Alex said:

And yes I see the difference .. Israel good / Syria bad.

But you posed another question which should show you what I was trying to explain to you earlier. Your question was:

Is Bashar thinking about the welfare of Syrians or is his main interest staying in power?

The right answer is probably … both! … why do you always offer two extremes as the only possible choices??

And you should know, since you say that you are very familiar with decision theory that your two choices are not even independent! … Staying in power is often achieved through thinking about the welfare of the people… if your people are sufficiently happy (or content, or even not unhappy) then it is easier for you to stay in power.

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October 29th, 2007, 6:57 pm

 

35. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
No, Barak did in 2000 with the leaving of Lebanon and not reacting to the Hizballah provocations. Sharon was stuck with the Second Intifada and did not give Lebanon high priority. You see, both Nasrallah and Asad miscalculated based on their previous experience. Asad believed that Israel would not attack him while dealing with the second intifada and he was right. You must remember that 1000 Israeli civillians died in the second intifada and Sharon had his hands full.

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October 29th, 2007, 7:01 pm

 

36. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
Are you serious? In the case of the Asad’s staying in power meant putting the welfare of the population as a very low priority. Just compare how little Syria developed relative to Israel or to any other much less dictatorial country. In 48 Syria and Israel were equal. Now Israelis are 6-7 times on average richer than Syrians.

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October 29th, 2007, 7:07 pm

 

37. Zenobia said:

AIG,
i see your point, but i guess i just don’t agree with your suppositions and conclusions.
We are so far off in our interpretations of what has happened. You seem to imply that Israel has been too soft...withdrawing from Lebanon, not destroying Hezbollah (and in the process lots of Lebanese civilians).. and therefore… Nasrallah and Assad underestimate Israel’s potential responses…???
i can’t even imagine such a initial description.

In the end, I think we are both/or all just attempting mind reading…what these leaders are thinking about concsiously or unconsiously and what is foremost motivating them.

I could just as easily suggest that Olmert is motivated to get elected and those in Israel he must please…are in fact not motivated by desires that are in the best interest of their own country.
Same goes for American politicians trying to get elected.
the fact that there are elections doesn’t mean that the leaders are by definition making good decisions. Maybe they are just pandering to the most extreme sentiments and manipulative elements in these ‘democratic’ countries.

oh well, we are still just mind reading. my favorite attempted mind read is Dickless Cheney. It is a bit scary to imagine what is in that man’s head.

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October 29th, 2007, 7:11 pm

 

38. Alex said:

AIG … Sharon was in power in 2003 when Syria supposedly decided to risk building nuclear weapons … what does Lebanon have to do with it?

Would Syria think that Sharon would be too weak to attack its nuclear facilities? … would Syria think that Sharon is easy?

and for your second point … Did Syria have the Untied states as a backer for all those years?? .. is Israel paying for the 30 billions of weapons that America will give you in the coming few years? .. did America ever boycott you and stop European companies form selling you spare parts for your civilian airlines?

There are many reasons why Syria is not as rich as Israel today. One of them is that the regime was not ALWAYS thinking of its people’s welfare (as you suggested) … but there are many other reasons .. the main one is that the regime is doing what most Syrians want it to do … to maintain Syria’s strong role it plays in regional conflicts. To keep Syria strong … as Zenobia suggest .. this works well with teh Syrian people .. they want it this way, even if America boycotts Syria … it is the American administration that loses the support of the Syrian people and the regime gets more popular.

Anyway, that is the way I see it. We will have a discussion topic on Creative Forum in few days to discuss Syria’s regional role and if Syrians really want Syria to play a major role or not.

I any of you (including IG and AIG) want to write his opinion … you are all welcome. 500-2000 words per post.

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October 29th, 2007, 7:16 pm

 

39. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Zenobia,

You said:
you seem to imply that Israel has been too soft…withdrawing from Lebanon

No, I was saying how this was interpreted not whether it was right or wrong. I thought at the time that it was right. Now I am not sure.

Many Arabs are interpreting the 2006 war in Lebanon as a victory for Hizballah and a proof that Israel is weak. This is just another example of underestimating Israel that leads to incorrect decisions.

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October 29th, 2007, 7:17 pm

 

40. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,

Sharon was busy with the intifada and that was why Asad took his chances. After 2000 Israel looked weak. It left Lebanon, it didn’t react to Hizballah provocations, it suffered economically from technology down turn and it was hit by a wave of suicide bombings that killed 1000 civillians. So Asad wanted to take the opportunity to develop an a-bomb.

The Russians backed the Syrians for many many years as well as their Arab brothers that gave the Syrians money. It is about even if not more with what Israel got from the US.

What is Bashar’s economic track record? It is just as dismal as the one of Hafez.

What regional conflicts? Can you list them? Syria has not fired a shot in anger at Israel since 1973. Syria just destabilizes its neighbors. Is that taking part in regional conflicts? Do you really believe that this is what Syrians support? Amazing.

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October 29th, 2007, 7:27 pm

 

41. Zenobia said:

AIG,
i think it is just misleading to open up such huge issues as trying to say why Israelis have money.
yes, Syria was modeled for thirty years on a soviet economic system and the priorities not being the economic well being of the people. no mystery here.
but…as for Israel…. well….initially…the survival of the fittest… gave rise to this country….and they came with money and incredible motivations…..and it is no doubt a special country with very educated and resourceful people.
but billions of dollars in military aid….coming as a gift from good old USA….does help…. so you don’t have to siphon off resources from the people into weapons.

i think i am done.
this is getting very tiring, indeed. we see the world from very different angles …clearly.

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October 29th, 2007, 7:27 pm

 

42. IsraeliGuy said:

AIG, like you, I thought that Israel’s pullout from Lebanon was the right move and by the way, I still do.

Israel’s biggest mistake was not responding to Hizbollah’s attacks seriously in the early years (especially in 2000, when Barak was in power).

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October 29th, 2007, 7:29 pm

 

43. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Zenobia,
Let me assure you that Israel is a very average country with average people and that most Israelis like my grandparents came without a cent to Israel. Please visit us in Israel and see that we are not special at all.

The only reason Israel is developed is because it is a democracy.

Take North Korea and South Korea. Same people exactly. All the difference is the regimes. Are the Russians less resourceful or intelligent than the Americans? No. It is just the way they were ruled.

Democracy means development. That is the only reason Israel is more developed than its Arab neigbors. All the rest is just excuses.

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October 29th, 2007, 7:33 pm

 

44. Zenobia said:

“The Russians backed the Syrians for many many years as well as their Arab brothers that gave the Syrians money. It is about even if not more with what Israel got from the US.”

i really am finished, but i just have to respond to this.

are you joking?????? Russia was going through crushing economic failure for a long time. I don’t think they were providing Syria with billions year after year.
do we have actual number here?
this is not very interesting….but it is an astounding comparison.

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October 29th, 2007, 7:39 pm

 

45. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Did you know that Russia forgave Syria $11 Billion dollars in loans and that it gave Syria tons of free weapons? The Arabs have given the Syrians billions. I will try to find the data. If anyone has it, please post it.

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October 29th, 2007, 8:12 pm

 

46. Alex said:

AIG

You are welcome to find the data on the billions that the USSR gave Syria (in semi-useful weapons)

But I suggest there is no need. Do you think Syria cost Russia 1.6 Trillions?

Economist tallies swelling cost of Israel to US

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October 29th, 2007, 8:42 pm

 

47. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Alex,
The guy was totally wrong wasn’t he? Israel is able to pay the guaranteed loans so his estimates are way of mark. All the rest of his math is ridiculous also. He includes the payments to Egypt as being given to Israel.

Read the article carefully, since 1973 the US has given Israel 240 billion. Not a small amount, but very far from 1.6 trillion and really insignificant realtive to what the Arabs got from oil.

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October 29th, 2007, 9:00 pm

 

48. abraham said:

AIG has effectively turned into the Bill O’Reilly of this blog:

“I’m right, you’re not, so shut up before I cut your mic.”

Too bad AIG can’t actually cut anyone’s mic off here though.

It is safe to assume that you can change the channel now. I’m pretty tired of the AIG show.

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October 29th, 2007, 10:08 pm

 

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