Don't Panic! April 23 2003

Your war questions answered

Why are we so miffed at Syria now?

In mid-March, the following classified ad appeared in the Rogue Reader, the official newsletter of the International Association of Outlaw, Rogue & Evil Nations:

Single Superpower seeks swarthy, unlikeable rogue nation to fill 'Axis of Evil' vacancy. Must have language with alphabet we can't read, possess WMDs and be easily demonized. Moustaches a plus.

I'm not sure who faxed Syria's resume to the White House, but it looks like they've got the job.

On March 28, Secretary of Defense (and, since last year's policy change, Offense as well) Rumsfeld pitched a public fit about Syria selling night vision goggles to Iraqi forces. He said that its government would be held "accountable" if the sales continued. If Syria isn't sure what it means when Donald Rumsfeld decides to hold you accountable, they might wanna ask the Iraqi leaders to whom they've given shelter recently. They can also ask the Jihadists who they let pass through Syria on their way to spending fundamentalist Spring Break fighting us in Iraq. Some of them are probably back in Syria after wisely getting the hell out of Iraq.

The Bush administration has responded to Syria's attempts at Axis-quality evil by turning up the heat on them by talking about them in the same language it used last year building up to war in Iraq. We keep putting out messages about how we don't have any plans to invade Syria — as sure a sign as any that we're at least looking at the possibility.

Bush's homies have gone out of their way recently to remind the press that Syria supports terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas and that its military occupies neighboring Lebanon. Syria doesn't deny supporting those groups. But they don't consider them terrorists. They consider them freedom fighters trying to liberate Arab lands from Israel.

With characteristic eloquence, Bush himself topped it all off recently by telling reporters that he's concerned about Syria's weapons of mass destruction. "I think that we believe that there are chemical weapons in Syria," he said.

Bush is right to think that we believe they have chemical weapons. I think I believe that they've been developing them since the early 1970s to counter Israel's nuclear weapons arsenal. Israel admits nothing, but we think we believe that they have about 300 nuclear missile warheads and bombs. To deliver its chemical weapons, Syria has Scud missiles which we think we believe they got from North Korea (Axis of Evil, Class of 2002).

We've recently suggested that Syria should get rid of its chemical weapons as part of an effort to make the entire region WMD-free. Rather than directly telling us to fuck off, they've decided to do it in a far more subtle and clever way — they're calling our bluff. "Sure, we wanna make the Middle East WMD-free," they say. "That means Israel, too." We know and they know that Israel won't give up its nukes (at least that's what I think that I know). Syria knows that as long as we tolerate Israel's WMDs that we have no moral standing to complain about their countermeasures. Unlike Saddam, who used his chemicals on his own people, Syria can rightfully claim that it has them only for defense.

So are we gonna invade them? Probably not. We likely just wanna pressure them to cough up the Iraqi leaders they're hiding and behave a little better. First of all, they're not really a direct threat to us. Unlike with Iraq, we don't have a long list of international legal infractions with which to justify an attack. Besides, we're already committed to rebuilding Iraq and Afghanistan, so we don't really want to have to occupy a third country — particularly one without oil.


More By This Writer


Monday July 2, 2012 10:14 am EDT
Fourth of July has devolved into a mindless national block party. Here's what we should do about it. | more...


Wednesday September 7, 2011 04:30 am EDT
Ten years later, a TV terrorpalooza rings hollow | more...


Tuesday September 7, 2010 09:11 am EDT
In the last-ever 'Don't Panic' column, we talk foreign policy writing cliches. | more...


Thursday August 26, 2010 02:42 pm EDT
The Iraq war is over in the same way that daytime is over if you close your curtains. | more...


Tuesday August 24, 2010 12:04 am EDT
Maybe Google Translator should add a Slang-to-English option, too? | more...
Search for more by Andisheh Nouraee

[Admin link: Don't Panic! April 23 2003]

Spider for Don't Panic! April 23 2003