Once again, Israel has demonstrated a commendable sense of self-preservation, and shown the way forward on how to deal with the world’s principal current center of violence by its example and professional military execution. It has also highlighted the torpor of much of the rest of the blowzy, sluggish world. Of course this latest massive shipment of missiles from Iran to Syria destined for Hezbollah and for delivery against the civilian population of Israel had to be intercepted. The contemptible farce that has gone on in what were, in a more pretentious but hopeful era, called the chancelleries of the world is a disgrace. The White House and the State Department, at time of writing, are still trying to pretend it didn’t happen, like a thoughtful host after a guest was unable to suppress a digestive or colonic perturbation, but it is not Israel that has embarrassed itself; it is the fraternity of the silent.
The reproachful are beneath contempt. There can have been few more preposterous charades of foreign ministers standing on their presumed dignity in recent years than the deputy foreign minister of Syria solemnly announcing to the nodding and docile CNN interviewer that the Israeli action was a “declaration of war,” and that Israel was assisting terrorists, including al-Qaeda (as if Hezbollah, to whom Syria was shipping the missiles destroyed by Israel, were a Boy Scout Jamboree). Syria has technically been at war with Israel for 65 years, as it has never acknowledged the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, as it was created by the United Nations. Syria has been identified by the United States and other countries as a terror-exporting country for many years. It invaded and occupied much of Lebanon for decades and murdered the democratically elected leader of that country, and has been in a brutal civil war for over two years, in which over 30,000 people have been killed. The latest episode in this cycle has been the use of sarin nerve gas by the Syrian government against dissidents two weeks ago. It does not lie in the mouth of a spokesman for the bloodstained Assad regime to accuse the democratic government of Israel, a society of laws and respecter of individual human rights, of lawlessness.
Syria has for many years been a witless conduit for the apparatus of terror to facilitate Iran’s assault on Israel and its cultivation of the most extreme genocidal anti-Semites and pseudo-Islamic zealots. As the 89 percent of Syrians who are not members of the governing Alawites have progressively abandoned the Assad reign of terror and bribery, the Syrian government’s dependence on Iran has steadily increased. The ghastly wreckage of the Assad regime would implode and be trampled and destroyed and its leaders executed by their countrymen in a trice if Iranian support were removed. The Syrian government exists exclusively as a tottering satrap of the demented Iranian theocracy, which apart from the lunatic reality show in Pyongyang has few rivals as the world’s most uniformly reprehensible functioning government.
As the Syrian drama has unfolded, and degenerated into a struggle between the surrogates of the Iranians and the Saudis, the West has been as impotent as it was during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s. No sane person asked for or would recommend the intervention of Western ground forces in Syria. But it has been demeaning to witness the spectacle of the gradual demise of official and unofficial Western deference to the Assads, from Hillary Clinton’s infamous reference to Assad as “a reformer” and the pilgrimages to Damascus of Barbara Walters and the correspondent of Vogue magazine, to the present tongue-tied agonizing about going beyond humanitarian aid to more effective assistance. It is an understandable and a good thing that President Obama does not want to replicate the Libyan fiasco: stating solemnly that Qaddafi must go but declining to lift a finger to assist in the accomplishment of that result (until the British and French did).