August 25, 2009 (Farid Ghadry Opinion – The Media Line) — The risks of failed negotiations with Assad will embolden Iran further. Calculating those risks cannot be left to the pro-Assad advisors in the US whose agenda may not be in the best interests of Israel and definitely not in the best interests of Syria or Syrians.
In military strategy, the Economy of Force is the concept of employing concentrated firepower against a central target in order to avoid opening a new secondary front with minimum firepower.
The US is employing this concept in Iraq today against its enemies. By avoiding opening a low-level, non-military secondary front against the Assad regime, the western community has chosen to acquiesce to Assad’s terror.
With a secondary front, in Assad’s own backyard, countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and the US can effectively defuse the continued pressure he is leveling against the Arab countries and the Jewish State. A weaker Assad also means a weaker Iran.
Take for example the visit last week to Damascus by CENTCOM to talk about Syria sealing its borders and preventing old Iraqi Ba’athists from continued acts of terror. What sounds familiar about this visit? This is the umpteen time the US sends a military delegation, or a Secretary of State, or a National Security Advisor, or a Congressional fact finding mission since April of 2003 to discuss with Assad his assistance in preventing the training and smuggling of terrorists. After six years of trying, you would think someone in the Executive Branch would write off these visits as failures.
Even when he deceives by showing compliance, Assad gives so little and replaces his losses immediately by re-creating the people or re-inventing the methods. In fact, he already has replaced the Iraqi Ba’athists he may be willing to give up in return for more US concessions. The strange fact is that the people who understand Syria in the Obama administration are all pro-Assad, anti-Syria figures calling themselves “realists”. Realists when it comes to protecting Arab violent dictators and subjecting their people to continued oppression but deniers when it comes to understanding the root causes of 9/11 and how Islamic extremists find in hopeless Arab youth an endless fountain of supply.
Take Israel during the last administration. When threatened, its government used to send signals and warnings to Assad, ahead of time, to stand down.
Nothing could be more helpful to Assad’s survival instinct than to be told by a foe what its intention are. Furthermore, playing defense with Assad, whether the killing of Mughnieyeh or the destruction of the Deir el-Zour nuclear reactor, only increases his offensive postures. When Turkey played offense in 1998 by amassing its soldiers on Syria’s border, Assad became a lamb. When was the last time the US or Israel played offense against Assad?
Assad’s Achilles’ heels are many; yet, they either go invisible to very smart people or are intentionally avoided in the hope of seeing Hafez in Baschar. The production of the Ba’ath Party, having its roots in the Nazi Party, is able to churn out violent men and prêt-à-porter terrorists faster than Israel can kill them in Gaza or the US can destroy them in Iraq.
Israelis should ask themselves the question: Are we better off today, security wise, than 9 years ago when Assad came to power? Before you answer, remember that Assad has been harboring Palestinian terrorists, arming Hezbollah, and teaching Mughnieyeh’s tactics to a long list of terrorists long before the liberation of Iraq. Assad has been playing with our lives while we play by slapping him on his hand. How does Israel benefit if the Golan Heights are secured but rockets rain on Israel from all the other directions?
Low level operations against the interests of Assad will go a long way in derailing his tactical superiority at display every time a new delegation visits Syria. Begging Assad on behalf of Iraqis or Israeli kidnapped soldiers or asking Assad to play ball when his own survival rests on confrontation and resistance only leads to failed policies.
As a dictator, Assad has outlasted Bush and will outlast Obama and whomever comes after. Time will always be on his side. By the time a US administration figures the futility of its diplomacy, another one is ushered in with the belief that its own diplomacy will succeed where others have failed. Assad just keeps churning out one meeting after another, one process after another, one hopeless visit after another waiting for the next diplomatic genius to take him on the Assad Ferris Wheel ride. Meanwhile generations of oppressed Arab youth remain ignorant, uneducated, clenching to extremist religious beliefs that turn them into real threats against our own backward societies and the advanced societies of others.
The west should think clandestine civil disobedience the way Assad clandestinely arms Hezbollah, Hamas, and terror against four of his neighbors. The west should think oil installations the way Assad thinks rockets on Sderot and Ashkelon. The west should think regime change in Syria the way he thinks his proxies should destroy Israel. Think Assad the beggar instead of leaving our fate to few advisors still enamored by the legacy of his father.