Sunday, September 23, 2007

Syrian Nukes

"North Korea may be cooperating with Syria on some sort of nuclear facility in Syria, according to new intelligence the United States has gathered over the past six months, sources said. The evidence, said to come primarily from Israel, includes dramatic satellite imagery that led some U.S. officials to believe that the facility could be used to produce material for nuclear weapons."

- N. Korea, Syria May Be at Work on Nuclear Facility, By Glenn Kessler. Washington Post, September 13, 2007
"This story is nonsense"
- Joseph Cirincione

Hogwash. I don't buy any of this. An absolute waste, we are absolutely going down the wrong track.

Syria In Their Sights: The neocons plan their next “cakewalk.” by Robert Dreyfuss. The American Conservative, January 16, 2006.

Missed Opportunities: Cooperation Confrontation in the U.S. – Syrian Relationship,” David Lesch. The Century Foundation, 9/5/2007 (PDF)


" Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions. Jordan has challenged Syria's regional ambitions recently by suggesting the restoration of the Hashemites in Iraq. This has triggered a Jordanian-Syrian rivalry to which Asad has responded by stepping up efforts to destabilize the Hashemite Kingdom, including using infiltrations. Syria recently signaled that it and Iran might prefer a weak, but barely surviving Saddam, if only to undermine and humiliate Jordan in its efforts to remove Saddam.

But Syria enters this conflict with potential weaknesses: Damascus is too preoccupied with dealing with the threatened new regional equation to permit distractions of the Lebanese flank. And Damascus fears that the 'natural axis' with Israel on one side, central Iraq and Turkey on the other, and Jordan, in the center would squeeze and detach Syria from the Saudi Peninsula. For Syria, this could be the prelude to a redrawing of the map of the Middle East which would threaten Syria's territorial integrity.

Since Iraq's future could affect the strategic balance in the Middle East profoundly, it would be understandable that Israel has an interest in supporting the Hashemites in their efforts to redefine Iraq, including such measures as: visiting Jordan as the first official state visit, even before a visit to the United States, of the new Netanyahu government; supporting King Hussein by providing him with some tangible security measures to protect his regime against Syrian subversion; encouraging — through influence in the U.S. business community — investment in Jordan to structurally shift Jordan’s economy away from dependence on Iraq; and diverting Syria’s attention by using Lebanese opposition elements to destabilize Syrian control of Lebanon.

Most important, it is understandable that Israel has an interest supporting diplomatically, militarily and operationally Turkey’s and Jordan’s actions against Syria, such as securing tribal alliances with Arab tribes that cross into Syrian territory and are hostile to the Syrian ruling elite.

King Hussein may have ideas for Israel in bringing its Lebanon problem under control. The predominantly Shia population of southern Lebanon has been tied for centuries to the Shia leadership in Najf, Iraq rather than Iran. Were the Hashemites to control Iraq, they could use their influence over Najf to help Israel wean the south Lebanese Shia away from Hizballah, Iran, and Syria. Shia retain strong ties to the Hashemites: the Shia venerate foremost the Prophet’s family, the direct descendants of which — and in whose veins the blood of the Prophet flows — is King Hussein."

- A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm

Ron Paul on the drug war

This is a 1988 clip of Ron Paul appearing on the Morton Downey Jr. Show. An audience member challenges him on his drug war policies, hilarity ensues.

Israel Lobby Documentary

The Dutch documentary program "Tegenlicht" about the Israel lobby in the USA and it's influence on US Foreign Policy. April 2007

Part one

Part two

Part three

Part four

Part five

Greenspan on Daily Show

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Interview with Stephen Gaghan

This interview with Stephen Gaghan is highly recommended. Gaghan wrote and directed the film Syriana, while Bourbon and Lawndarts has mixed thoughts about the film, we did enjoy the hell out of it. In researching for the screenplay, Gaghan hooked up with one of Bourbon and Lawndarts’ idols, Robert Baer, and joined him in traveling around the world. This interview with Charlie Rose does not offer mile-deep scholarly analysis of the Middle East, but does give a mile-wide view. Gaghan talks about experiences in the souk’s of Beirut where he met with Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, talks with Gucci Gulch policy-wonks and realpolitik with London oil traders. Enjoy!

A Second Look at the Saudis

Great work by this guy, I haven’t read all of it, but his research parallels mine:

A Second Look at the Saudis