Thursday, February 24, 2005

# Posted 2:23 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

GUARDIAN SAYS ISRAEL RESPONSIBLE FOR TSUNAMI, AIDS, AND GLOBAL WARMING: Just kidding. But everyone's favorite London tabloid has published a column by Patrick Seale which seriously suggests that Israel was responsible for the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister.

That's right. Arik Sharon supposedly told the Mossad to murder an extremely popular and influential individual known for his pro-Western, pro-business, and anti-Syrian views. "Why?", you might ask. Here's why:
Israel's ambition has long been to weaken Syria, sever its strategic alliance with Iran and destroy Hizbullah. Israel has great experience at "targeted assassinations" - not only in the Palestinian territories but across the Middle East. Over the years, it has sent hit teams to kill opponents in Beirut, Tunis, Malta, Amman and Damascus.
I put the word "opponents" in boldface because Israel does not kill its friends. I also put the word "opponents" in boldface because those whom Israel targets for death are not simply opponents, but rather terrorists who have murdered innocent civilians or have instructed their subordinates to do so.

Even though I often question Israel's decision to conduct targeted killings, there is a clear moral logic that governs Israeli behavior. Thus, it is ridiculous and offensive to suggest that Israel would murder one of its friends in order to embarrass the Syrian government. That sort of accusation is only a few steps removed from the allegation, common in the Arab press, that the Mossad was responsible for 9/11.

By the way, it is worth taking note of the mental gymnastics that Patrick Seale must put himself through in order to explain why Israel, and not Syria, is the prime suspect in Hariri's murder:
If Syria killed Rafik Hariri, Lebanon's former prime minister and mastermind of its revival after the civil war, it must be judged an act of political suicide. Syria is already under great international pressure from the US, France and Israel. To kill Hariri at this critical moment would be to destroy Syria's reputation once and for all and hand its enemies a weapon with which to deliver the blow that could finally destabilise the Damascus regime, and even possibly bring it down.

So attributing responsibility for the murder to Syria is implausible.
I suppose it would also be implausible to suggest that Syria has been harboring Ba'athist insurgents from across the border in Iraq. After all, harboring such insurgents is tantamount to "political suicide" given that there are 135,000 American soldiers within striking distance of Damascus and a trigger-happy cowboy in the White House.

It is also good to know that Bashar Assad would never do anything that might "destroy Syria's reputation." Actually, I think the only thing Bashar could do to undermine Syria's reputation would be to stop killing people.

Now, I admit that it seems foolish, from an American or Euorpean perspective, for Bashar to indulge in this sort of reckless provocation. Yet he would hardly be the first dictator whose arrogance and total disregard for others brought about his own downfall.
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