Thursday, July 12, 2007

Winds of War

Why is there nothing in our media about this? Michael Totten reports that Syria has moved into Lebanon:

A few days ago Lebanese daily newspaper Al Mustaqbal quietly reported a limited Syrian invasion of Lebanon:

"Syrian troops on Thursday reportedly have penetrated three kilometers into Lebanese territories, taking up positions in the mountains near Yanta in east Lebanon's Bekaa Valley.

"The daily Al Mustaqbal, citing sources who confirmed the cross-border penetration, did not say when the procedure in the Fahs Hill overlooking Deir al-Ashaer in the Rashaya province took place.

"The sources said Syrian troops, backed by bulldozers, were fortifying positions "in more than one area" along the Lebanese border, erecting earth mounds and digging "hundreds" of trenches and individual bunkers."

Totten then adds the following:

If Israel sent the IDF three kilometers into Lebanon and started digging trenches and building bunkers it would make news all over the world. But Syria does it and everyone shrugs. Hardly anyone even knows it happened at all.

Syria can, apparently, get away with just about anything. I could hardly blame Assad at this point if he believes, after such an astonishing non-response, that he can reconquer Beirut. So far he can kill and terrorize and invade and destroy with impunity, at least up to a point. What is that point? Has anyone in the U.S., Israel, the Arab League, the European Union, or the United Nations even considered the question?

Meanwhile, the Syrian government is evacuating its citizens from Lebanon in advance of...something they expect to happen after July 15, 2007.

What could that "something" be? A coup in Beirut? An attack by Hezbollah into Israel? Could Israel allow either of these to occur without responding, and if they respond will the Israel-haters in European capitals blame them for taking action?

At least we know the answer to that last question.


Why Europe and Not Us

Matthew Schofield explains why Europe, and not America, seems to be the target of so many recent terror attacks. He writes:

When emergency workers spotted the bomb-laden car a week ago in London's crowded West End, it was clear that for the fourth straight year, the city was being targeted for a major terrorist attack.

Yet Britain isn't the Great Satan to al-Qaida extremists. Most terrorism experts agree that for al-Qaida operatives and sympathizers, the preferred villain is the United States.

So why do attacks keep happening in Britain? And why, since Sept. 11, 2001, has America avoided another assault?

Karl-Heinz Kamp, security policy coordinator at Germany's Konrad Adenauer research center, said it is easy to understand why.

"The U.S. has a historical advantage; America is still the land of opportunity to the whole world. The people moving there believe the American dream of social mobility," he said. "In Europe, we've historically treated our immigrants as hired help, and waited for them to finish the work they arrived for and go home."

Bob Ayers, a security and terrorism expert with London's Chatham House, a foreign policy research center, said that because immigrants to the U.S. can become Americans, the nation has a huge advantage in avoiding homegrown al-Qaida terrorists. Europeans encourage immigrants to retain their native cultures, causing them to be ostracized more readily.

"The Islamic population in the United States is better assimilated into the general population, whereas here, in Germany, in France, they're very much on the outside looking in," Ayers said. "When people get disaffected, sadly, there's not much loyalty to country in that sort of situation."

Experts, noting that success against terrorism can be temporary, agree that there are other reasons.

The U.S. is geographically more separate from the Middle East, the home of much Islamic fundamentalism. Beyond that, especially since 9-11, the U.S. has cracked down on travel and new-resident visas, making it hard for terrorists from outside to get into the country.

Magnus Ranstorp, chief scientist at the Swedish National Defense College, said U.S. efforts to track down everything involved in terrorism, particularly funding, have made it very difficult to operate in America.

"The United States is so difficult to crack, they have to have established operatives living inside the country to be effective," he said. "To date, they haven't shown themselves. The truth is, while it's not the al-Qaida Great Satan, Europe is a much easier place to move around."

Yet experts agree that British security services are very professional and, as Ayers noted, "getting better and better at what they do with all the practice they've had since July 2005," when suicide bombers hit London's transit system.

There's more so you might want to read the whole piece. It's not long.

We wonder, though, if the much maligned NSA "eavesdropping" program and the Patriot act are not also largely responsible for the fact that we have not been hit since 9/11. Whatever one thinks of George Bush, the Democrats' claim that we are less safe now than we were on 9/12 is utter nonsense. If, at the end of his term, there have been no further attacks on our homeland, the Bush administration will deserve an enormous amount of credit and gratitude from the American people.