Reuel Marc Gerecht, the Wall Street Journal’s always available advocate of “let us reason together before we bomb Iran,” is now urging an immediate US surrogate attack on Syria by “unleashing the CIA.” Gerecht, a former CIA officer who served in Istanbul and Paris, once described the Agency disparagingly as a mixture of Monty Python and Big Brother, so it is particularly ironic that now he wants to go about unleashing it. He apparently hopes that the Big Brother component will prevail because Monty Python would no doubt prefer to execute a silly walk.
Gerecht, who currently perches at the neocon Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, argues that unless there is a “muscular CIA operation” to arm the rebels with “paralyzing weaponry” and other support that would provide them with a military advantage there will be between 200,000 and 4.5 million deaths in Syria. The numbers appear to be plucked out of the ethosphere and it should also be noted that Gerecht’s knowledge of paralyzing weapons and their deployment is limited as he never served in the US military.
The call for a humanitarian intervention in Syria comes oddly from Gerecht, who has never hesitated to call for the killing of any Iranian civilians who might get in the way of a US/Israeli assault, using inter alia the argument that Iranians have “terrorism in their DNA.” It also ignores the dismal record of various US interventions over the past fifty years and conveniently avoids the subject of blowback. The operation would be eerily reminiscent of the support for insurgents in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation, an initiative that drove the Russians out to be sure, but also produced chaos in Afghanistan and created al-Qaeda. The situation in Syria is somewhat similar, at least in terms of potential downside, as Assad’s departure would create a power vacuum and no one really knows who the rebels are and what they represent.
But perhaps Gerecht is not really thinking about what is good for Syria and the Syrian people at all. He is a former employee of Doug Feith’s Pentagon Office of Special Plans that produced the disastrous war against Iraq and is also a close friend and associate of Richard Perle, who, together with Feith, drafted the 1996 proposal “A Clean Break”, which recommended specific policies to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “A Clean Break” endorsed encouraging Arab states hostile to Israel to splinter along tribal and ethnic lines, similar to what has been happening in Iraq. What could be better than a replacing a unified and hostile Syria with a chaotic civil war in which Alawites, Sunnis, and Shia are at each others’ throats while the Christian minority frantically looks for a way out? The Washington based Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), which was founded by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), apparently agrees, noting that the disruption caused by the Arab Spring has actually been good for Israel in strategic terms.