Tuesday, December 07, 2010

7-Dec-10: Look, up in the sky -- no, don't bother

You would have to search hard to find any news channel covering the fact that a Qassam rocket fired by the jihadists of Gaza exploded in the fields just south of Ashkelon yesterday (Monday). Ynet mentions it but it's buried deep inside the site. Fortunately, no injuries or damage were reported but this, of course, was not the intention of the rocket-firing thugs.

Since we're speaking of the intentions of the terrorists, it's timely to mention that the terrorist forces of Hezbollah, arrayed right across Israel's tense border with Lebanon as we write this, are now reliably thought to be equipped with 40,000 to 50,000 rockets and missiles. This report says they can now easily hit Tel-Aviv. In effect this means they can choose to hit any target within Israel.

A WikiLeaks piece from yesterday says Bashir al-Assad, the Syrian president, was "reprimanded" by US officials for supplying deadly weaponry to the Shiite terror group Hezbollah a week after assuring them he would not. (Oh the shock/horror!) In February 2010, Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, wrote to the Syrian:
"In our meetings last week it was stated that Syria is not transferring any 'new' missiles to Lebanese Hezbollah... We are aware, however, of current Syrian efforts to supply Hezbollah with ballistic missiles. I must stress that this activity is of deep concern to my government, and we strongly caution you against such a serious escalation."
Despite this "deep concern", Syria's foreign ministry promptly rejected the allegations and now, 9 months later, Pentagon officials say the flow of deadly weapons to Hezbollah is continuing with no signs of restraint from any quarter.

How does all of this square with the Obama administration's special efforts to engage Hezbollah and the Syrian regime as part of the president's attempts to foster a wider peace in the Middle East? A syndicated article from AFP yesterday offers an answer, under a telling headline: "Cables reveal US flailing as arms traffic cop".

So when does US policy stop being termed flailing and starts being called failing? Which it certainly is.

No one likes being wrong. But here's the point. If you're sitting in Washington and you're wrong, life goes on. On the other if, like us, you sit and live and work in Jerusalem or Herzliya, and the US is wrong in how it sizes up Syria and its grotesquely-over-armed Hezbollah proxies, then it's we who pay a steep price. As the New York Times notes:
Israeli officials told American officials in November 2009 that if war broke out, they assumed that Hezbollah would try to launch 400 to 600 rockets at day and sustain the attacks for at least two months.
But it's actually a good deal worse:
Break the Silence on Syria's Nuclear Program - Graham Allison and Olli Heinonen (Wall Street Journal): The U.S. has joined other major powers in a dangerous conspiracy of silence on Syria's nuclear program. Syria foreswore nuclear weapons when it ratified the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in 1969... yet Syria was able to secretly buy a nuclear reactor from North Korea. If Israel had not bombed the Al-Kibar reactor site in September 2007, it would be producing plutonium by now for Syria's first nuclear bomb. Since November 2008, nine IAEA reports (the latest released last month) have documented Syria's noncompliance with its requests for more details about its nuclear program.
And now this:
Possible Syrian Nuke Facility Identified by Satellite - Yaakov Katz
A compound in western Syria with buildings and hundreds of missile-shaped items has been identified as functionally related to a nuclear reactor Israel destroyed northeast of Damascus in 2007. Satellite footage of the site in Masyaf was obtained by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security. Several years ago, a military base near Masyaf was mentioned as a possible hiding place for weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein might have sent to Syria before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. ISIS head David Albright told the Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the site could be a military storage facility. "We have identified one site and learned the approximate locations of three other sites as well," Albright said. (Jerusalem Post)
The frightening thing is, as the torrent of Wikileaks demonstrates, that politicians in all the relevant places including Washington almost certainly know this even if we did not. And yet this awareness does not translate into effective action.

The price of inaction and going round in circles keeps rising. And meanwhile the steady drumbeat of falling rockets on Israeli soil goes entirely un-noticed.

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