McCain’s ‘crusader’ logic concerns Syria

By Sami Moubayed

As Puplished at PP

“……More recently, editorials have started appearing in the Syrian press, questioning whether Obama would actually be good for the Arabs, especially after his high-profile visit to Israel in which he declared his support for Tel Aviv. The selection of Joe Biden as his running mate also caused many Syrians to frown, associating him with the famous plan to partition Iraq into Shi’ite, Sunni and Kurdish zones.

Many Syrians have started rethinking. They fear that Obama, because of his Muslim origins, will work relentlessly to prove his “Americanism” by being more radical than Bush. Some have even began bracing themselves for a McCain victory, thinking that the retired Vietnam officer would have more courage to take serious initiatives in the Middle East, especially related to the Arab-Israeli peace process [COMMENT: Arab wishful thinking, again!].

Sadly, however, archiving is poor in the Arab world, and those who are now banking on a McCain victory fail to read his comments and career before running for the 2008 presidential elections. In 1992, McCain appeared on Larry King Live and gave two reasons why the US should involve itself militarily in the Middle East. One was because America was a “Judeo-Christian nation” (which, to the Muslim world, sounds like the Crusades).

The other was, “so long as the world’s energy resources came from that part of the world”…….”

# posted by Tony : 4:52 AM



Same shit, different pile . Arabs should bet on themselves.

I read the part of the Article as puplished by PP Anal-sist, who avoided puplishing the full article, in order to mock the Syrian “wishful thinking”, about reaching a deal with the US, to sell Iran, Palestine, and Hezbullah.

Do you expect the PP Anal-sist, mocking Syria day and night to tell his readers about Assaad:

  • the “outwardly attractive man” who “projected an aura of confidence and the satisfaction of a general who had just achieved a decisive victory”. McCain 1984
  • the“tough negotiator (who has) a great deal of mystique, tremendous stamina, and a lot of charm. All in all, he is a man of substance, and at his age [then 44], he will be a leader to be reckoned with in this part of the world. This man really has elements of genius – without any question!” Richard Nixon 1974,
  • “I invited the Syrian leader to come and visit me in Washington, but he replied that he had no desire ever to visit the United States. …I spent hours debating with Assad and listening to his analysis of events in the Middle East … he seemed to speak like a modern Saladin – as though it was his obligation to rid the region of foreign presence while preserving Damascus as the focal point of modern Arab unity.” Jimmy Carter.
  • “I was impressed by his [Assad’s] intelligence and almost total recall for detailed events going back more than 20 years.” Bill Clinton
  • “Ambassador Edward Djerejian …..informed prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who said, “You will be dealing with the smartest man in the Middle East.” Rabin then warned against what he called a “loophole” in what the Americans were offering to Syria, because if there were any, “Hafez al-Assad will drive a truck through it”.

Do you expect the PP Anal-sist, mocking Syria day and night to tell his readers about Syria before Assad?

PP ignored this part of the artcle. Read it carefully and see how history repeat it self.

“Was Syria anti-American to start with? That is the question Syrians should explain to McCain when and if he becomes president. Only briefly, in 1963-1970, could the Syrian government be described as anti-American. After a tug-of-war between the US and Great Britain in 1949-1954, carried out by proxy through allies like Saudi Arabia and Iraq, Syria began charting its own course, with real democracy, in 1954.

During the elections of 1955, the ballots brought a communist into the Syrian parliament. Terror overtook the US State Department. It expressed fear “at the drift towards a leftist, anti-US position in Syria”. The US ambassador to Syria added, “If the present trend continues, there is strong possibility that a communist-dominated Syria will emerge, threatening the peace and stability of the area, and endangering the achievement of our objectives in the Near East.”

The US began talking of regime change in Damascus, and even financed two failed coups in the late 1950s, prompting the Syrians to expel a number of US diplomats. The US responded by expelling Syrian ambassador Farid Zayn al-Din from Washington. As a result, anti-Americanism soured and demonstrators stormed the US Embassy and the home of the ambassador.

Why would Syria – in the 1950s and today – support a superpower that was relentlessly trying to bring down its government? On the other hand, why would it turn down the friendship of another superpower – the USSR in the 1950s and Iran today – that was expressing unconditional military, political and economic support to the Syrians?

As early as 1956, the USSR gave Syria 400 million Syrian pounds (US$8 million) for oil extraction, and oversaw the supply of arms worth 20 million British pounds ($34 million), through Egypt. Trade with the Eastern bloc back then was at $19 million per year.

The US commented, after watching Syria snuggle up to the Russians, “Internal medicine will not do; surgery is required for the cancerous growth [of communism] in Syria.”

The US began to accuse Syria of meddling in the affairs of its neighbors, and destabilizing Lebanon. The parallel between 1955-1958 and 2005-2008 is haunting; bombs would explode in Beirut, and everybody would blame it on the Syrians. The US encouraged its regional allies to take action against Syria, saying that it would support any covert or overt anti-Syrian activity under Article 51 of the UN charter: self-defense.

Turkey moved its troops to the Syrian border, with US encouragement, and repeatedly violated Syrian airspace. The result, instead of a u-turn, was more Syrian-Soviet friendship. The formal US policy became to minimize contact with the Syrian government, now that the US ambassador was out of Damascus, and to support and fund the Syrian opposition. Records from the US put the amount paid to ambitious officers wanting to overthrow the regime at $3 million.

The Aleppo deputy in parliament, and former prime minister Maarouf al-Dawalibi, threatened to hold a plebiscite in Syria to show the US that the Russians were more popular than the Americans, because the latter were held responsible “for the Palestine tragedy”. The New York Times retaliated by describing him as “the most outspoken anti-American leader in the Arab world”.

At this stage, president Shukri al-Quwatli came out, for the first time in Syrian history, and described the US as “an enemy”, in July 1957. It was the Americans who had removed him from office in 1949, promoting, as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Egypt in 2005, “stability over democracy”.

What else could Quwatli do? The Americans were financing revolution in Syria. They were calling on Syria’s neighbors to invade and topple the regime. They were levying accusations of regional adventurism against the Syrians. All of this was being done to a country that was never – in principal – anti-American.

Concerning the dilemma in Syrian-US relations, former secretary of state John Foster Dulles wrote in late 1957: “Efforts to persuade moderate Arab leaders to take an overt hard line towards Syria have failed. What alternatives do we have? Force is ruled out. Clandestine activity would not succeed. A hard line from the West would only drive Syria closer to the Soviet bloc.”

McCain was in his 20s then, studying at the Naval Academy at Annapolis. He was busy practicing as a lightweight boxer, earning a reputation as someone who loved history and literature, hated mathematics, and more importantly, stood up for people who were bullied.

Syria was bulled in 1955-1958, but it is doubtful if McCain was overly concerned with the small Mediterranean country then. Given all of the above, McCain should visit Damascus again with an open mind, as he did in 1984, to see that both good things and bad things don’t change that quickly in the Middle East.

And Arabs in general and Syrians in particular should think twice before betting on McCain.

Sami Moubayed is a Syrian political analyst.”

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