On Sunday, it was reported (barely) by the New York Times that, allegedly, a Special Forces operation was carried out by four American choppers and on-the-ground commandos within Syria‘s borders. They destroyed a terrorist haven in Kabul, a town that borders Syria and Iraq. Syria claimed that it was a “construction” zone. Intelligence indicated that the only thing Syria was constructing was a tunnel to funnel Iraqi insurgents from Syria. American officials at first denying the news, finally acknowledged that the attack was aimed at Badaran Turki Hishan al-Mazidih, an Iraqi who smuggled fighters into Iraq from Syria. Good news: he was killed in the operation.
Angered by America‘s impunity, the Syrians asked for a charge d’affaires, an envoy when there is no ambassador to talk to, they shut down an American school. Recall, we don’t negotiate with terrorists. America has not returned the call. Bravo. Now, angered further, on October 30th, AP Reuters recently reported that Syria is shutting down the embassy in Damascus. Now it’s going to be even harder to talk.
The Washington Post applauded the United States, claiming “If Sunday’s raid, which targeted a senior al-Qaeda operative, serves only to put Mr. Assad on notice that the United States, too, is no longer prepared to respect the sovereignty of a criminal regime, it will have been worthwhile.” The juice was certainly worth the squeeze. However, Robert Dreyfuss of the Nation believes that once again the Bush Administration has overstepped its reaches. He claims that this tactic is just a new addendum to the Bush Doctrine and another disregard for international law. (Remember recently America launched drones and rockets into Pakistan.) But although the Bush Doctrine has too often lead to mistakes, the Bush Amendment (if I can coin that term) has pushed America in the right direction. While, the Bush Doctrine condones unilateral attacks by America as preemptive measures. This retaliation on terrorists in Syria is simply tit-for-tat and nothing like preemption. Terrorists within Syria struck first.
But the Bush Amendment can certainly fall under the umbrella of the Bush Doctrine which has stipulated that if you pal around with terrorists you’re going to get clamped. As Bush states on November 6th 2001, “No group or nation should mistake America‘s intentions: We will not rest until terrorist groups of global reach have been found, have been stopped, and have been defeated.” In fact, the first Bush Doctrine, outlined in the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism, made a vague goal: the eradication of terrorism, but the Bush Amendment has made our tactics a little more clear and pragmatic. In essence, you’re judged by the company you keep (Side note: the new National Strategy for Combating Terrorism published in September of 2006 revises the Bush Doctrine on many key points especially multilateralism, cultural sensitivity, roots of terrorism, and nation building.)
While crossing national lines might infringe on Syria‘s sovereignty, can they (or Pakistan) really complain. America might go in with choppers, but Syria has been trafficking weapons and fighters across Iraq‘s border. Those in glass houses should not throw stones. Now, maybe if this was Ethiopia and Somalia, America would not be as aggressive or responsive. But America is Iraq‘s protectorate, its body guard, and its bulletproof vest, and its going to protect itself and the Iraqi people. As the new bush doctrine sates, “Working with committed partners across the globe [Iraq], we continue to use a broad range of tolls at home and aboard o take the fight to the terrorist, deny them entry to the United States, hinder their movement across international borders, and establish protective measures to further reduce our vulnerability to attack.”
Finally, might is right. America has the firepower and they’re going to use it. What good is it to be a beacon of light without the will to light up the world? America is not afraid to ruffle the leaves, cross lines, and impede on national sovereignty. And the U.S. should. Sometimes having the guts to pull the trigger means breaking the rules. There are many problems and terrorism leads to making difficult decisions; sometimes you need to cross that line.