In his April 12, 2018 column Bret Stephens writes:
On Saturday I took my family to have a closer look at Syria.
This was on the Golan Heights, from a roadside promontory overlooking the abandoned Syrian town of Quneitra. The border is very green at this time of year, a serene patchwork of orchards and grassland, and it was hard to impress on our kids that hell on earth was visible in the quiet distance.
But I wanted them to see it — to know that Syria is a place, not an abstraction; that the agonies of its people are near, not far; that we should not look away. Later that day, in a suburb of Damascus, Syrian forces apparently again gassed their own people.
It’s fortunate for Israel that it did not bargain the Heights away during the ill-fated peace processes of the 1990s: Had it done so, ISIS, Hezbollah or Iran might in time have trained their guns on Israeli towns below. The strategy of withdrawal-for-peace has not been vindicated in recent years, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or Gaza. It’s a point Donald Trump obviously missed when he insisted last week on U.S. withdrawal from Syria, likely encouraging the apparent chemical attack he now threatens to punish.
As a well compensated New York Times columnist and a former writer for The Wall Street Journal , not to speak of his assuming the editorship at The Jerusalem Post at age 28. Mr. Stephens credentials as a propagandist/apologist for a Zionism that has exhausted the Holocaust shibboleth, and become what Hannah Arendt called a Sparta, shares with his readers a family outing, that would remain outside the realm of possibility for all but the most privileged.
Out of this moralizing travelogue, he constructs a wobbly rhetorical frame, about the evils of ISIS, Hezbollah, Iran and their threat to the very existence of his actual ‘homeland’. This no repetition of the Anti-Semitic trope of divided loyalty, but of Mr. Stephens’ singular loyalty to the Zionist state. An outrageously polemical statement, that contravenes bourgeois political respectability? I’m not an employee of the American Corporate Media!
Mr. Stephens, later in his polemic, asserts this in regards to a possible Trump led intervention in Syria, and other targets in Iran, that would guarantee World War III:
Nothing that has happened in the intervening five years has changed my view about this. If we are serious about restoring an international norm against the use of chemical weapons, then the penalty for violating the norm must be severe. And if we are serious about confronting Iran, Syria remains the most important battlefield. An extended U.S. air campaign to destroy Tehran’s military assets in the country would send the message that we will not tolerate its attempt to colonize Syria and threaten its neighbors. It could also help avert the looming war on Israel’s north and persuade Russia that its adventure in Syria won’t pay long-term results, especially if Assad is gone.
Mr. Stephens ends what is, in effect, a call for World War III, in true bellicose Neo-Conservative moral self-congratulation. Nothing else will slake this man’s appetite, for using American power, to vindicate the collapsed moral/political exceptionalism of Zionism, that has fulfilled Arendt’s prediction of a New Sparta! Nothing will be enough for this ideologue.
None of this will solve Syria’s problems. But it can begin to solve the problems Syria has caused for us — as a violator of moral norms, a threat to our regional allies, and an opportunity for our most dedicated enemies. There’s a new national security adviser in the White House, and a final chance for American initiative in this devastated land.