Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Before We Bury Syria

The terrorist attack on the U. S. Embassy in Syria looks like a one day story. But perhaps we should think about it a little longer.

Syrian guards stopped four terrorists from entering the U. S. Embassy compound. According to the Fox web site, there are usually thirty Syrian guards outside the embassy and a contingent of Marines inside. So, if the terrorists had entered the compound, they probably would have been killed quickly anyway.

So, why attack the American embassy? There must have been easier targets in Damascus for Syria's homegrown al-Qaeda group. Why not the Saudi, Egyptian, or Jordanian embassies? Why not Hezbollah offices?

To answer this question, it is useful to think about what would have happened if the Syrian defense of the American Embassy had been half-hearted or cowardly. Of course, the answer is that there would have been plenty of speculation among the American right over whether Syria had sponsored or planned the terrorist attack and increased pressure to launch an invasion of Syria despite the deteriorating situation in Iraq. There are a lot of reasons to think that the al-Qaeda group in Syria would have welcomed such an invasion. Like the American invasion of Iraq, an invasion of Syria would have removed a secular Arab regime and led to a rapid growth of Islamist attitudes among the Syrian population. Even better from the view of the terrorists, an American invasion of Syria would have been likely to help al-Qaeda recruiting and lead to more terrorist incidents in the future.

The American invasion of Iraq has given global terrorism such a lift that it looks like the terrorists are seeking an encore in Syria.

Fortunately, the terrorist attack failed. Unfortunately, the terrorists were probably correct in thinking that the Bush administration could be manipulated into another disastrous invasion.

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