Neo-con Plans for Syria
The best way to understand neoconservative plans for Syria is by following David Wurmser, who is Vice-president Dick Cheney's adviser on Syrian policy. A pro-Likud ideologue, he is an advocate of pre-emptive war against Syria and Hezbollah, a position favored by other neocons, such as Douglas Feith, John Bolton, Richard Perle and Eliot Abrams.
David Wurmser has participated in several key reports outlining the neoconservative agenda in the Middle East. See the IRC. In 1996 he helped write a report for Israel's Likud party that urged Israel to break off then-ongoing peace initiatives. The report, which was titled "A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm" and was published by the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (an Israeli- and DC-based think tank) advised then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "to work closely with Turkey and Jordan to contain, destabilize, and roll-back" regional threats, help overthrow Saddam Hussein, and strike "Syrian military targets in Lebanon" and possibly in Syria proper. Coauthors of the report included Richard Perle, Meyrav Wurmser, and Douglas Feith.
In 2000, Wurmser worked on a strategy document published by Daniel Pipe's Middle East Forum and Ziad Abdelnour's U.S. Committee for a Free Lebanon that advocated a wider U.S. role in Lebanon. The study, "Ending Syria's Occupation of Lebanon: The U.S. Role?" called for the United States to force Syria from Lebanon and to disarm it of its alleged weapons of mass destruction. It also argued that "Syrian rule in Lebanon stands in direct opposition to American ideals" and criticized the United States for engaging rather than confronting the regime. Among the documents signers were several soon-to-be Bush administration figures, including Elliott Abrams, Douglas Feith, Michael Rubin, and Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky. Other signers included Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, and Frank Gaffney.
Richard Perle has been a leading advocate of action against Syria. He said he "hope(d)" the United States would itself take action against Damascus, particularly if it turned out that Syria was acting as a financial or recruiting base for the insurgency in Iraq.
"Syria is itself a terrorist organisation," he asserted, insisting that Washington would not find it difficult to send troops to Damascus despite its commitment in Iraq. "Syria is militarily very weak," added Perle. See the revealing article by Jim Lobe, "The Wurmser Turns". He outlines Wurmser's argument as follows:
[To remake the Middle East, Wurmser] called for ousting Saddam Hussein and installing a Hashemite leader in Baghdad. From that point, the strategy would be largely focused on Syria and, at the least, to reducing its influence in Lebanon.
Among other steps, the report called for Israeli sponsorship of attacks on Syrian territory by "Israeli proxy forces" based in Lebanon and "striking Syrian military targets in Lebanon, and should that prove insufficient, striking at select targets in Syria proper."
"Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, even rolling back Syria," the report argued, to create a "natural axis" between Israel, Jordan, a Hashemite Iraq and Turkey that "would squeeze and detach Syria from the Saudi Peninsula."
During the latter part of the 1990s, he wrote frequently to support a joint U.S.-Israeli effort to undermine then-President Hafez Assad in hopes of destroying Ba'athist rule and hastening the creation of a new order in the Levant to be dominated by "tribal, familial and clan unions under limited governments."
While at the American Enterprise Institute in 1999, Wurmser wrote a book-length screed against Iraq and Syria, Tyranny's Ally: America's Failure to Defeat Saddam Hussein, with a foreword by Richard Perle. The book was financed by bingo magnate and Temple Mount Zealots funder Irving Moskowitz.
More recently Wurmser worked in the Pentagon intelligence unit set up by Under Sec Douglas Feith after the Sept 11 attacks to search for links between terrorist groups and host countries. James Risen of the NYTimes wrote in April that Wurmser, Feith and Michael Maloof, a former journalist, culled classified material, often uncorroborated CIA data, uncovering what Maloof calls 'tons of raw intelligence' that two were 'stunned' to find was not mentioned in CIA's finished reports; unit saw new alliances among Islamic terrorists such as Shiites and Sunnis and secular Arab regimes and gave senior Bush administration figures conclusions connecting Iraq and Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Some intelligence experts charge unit had secret agenda to justify war and was staffed with people handpicked by conservatives like Richard N Perle to justify preordained conclusions; Patrick Lang says those brought in were not analysts but people who would deliver desired opinions; chart showing links between Feith, Maloof, third group member David Wurmser and Richard Perle, Stephen A Cambone, Iraqi exile figure Ahmad Chalabi and top officials briefed by unit: John R Bolton, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, CIA Dir George Tenet, national security adviser Stephen J Hadley and Vice Pres Cheney's aide I Lewis Libby (M)
In April 2003, Feith's group drew up contingency plans for a war on Syria which were nixxed by Bush, according to Guardian reporter Julian Borger.
In the past few weeks, the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, ordered contingency plans for a war on Syria to be reviewed following the fall of Baghdad.
Meanwhile, his undersecretary for policy, Doug Feith, and William Luti, the head of the Pentagon's office of special plans, were asked to put together a briefing paper on the case for war against Syria, outlining its role in supplying weapons to Saddam Hussein, its links with Middle East terrorist groups and its allegedly advanced chemical weapons programme.