The road to Damascus

From Joe Conason’s Salon blog:

With our war enthusiasts agitating the world into a fearful froth over Syria, now might be a good time for sober consideration of the Assad regime. Neoconservatives itch for “confrontation” with Iraq’s western neighbor (from a safe personal distance, as usual). A fine example of this latest genre, written by Iran-contra character Michael Ledeen, can be found in the Spectator. After repeating the Rumsfeld alarms about Syria’s involvement with Saddam and chemical weapons, Ledeen levels the ultimate accusation against Damascus: “They are an integral part of the terror network that produced 11 September.”

The insinuation that Syria had some role in al-Qaida’s attack on the United States is entirely false. To manipulate public opinion, the hawks are fabricating a case that ignores certain complicated and inconvenient facts. Certainly Syria remains a repressive Baathist dictatorship, where the previous regime committed terrible crimes such as the 1982 Hama massacre. What the neocon ideologues don’t mention, however, is that since Sept. 11, Syria has provided invaluable aid to the United States in the war against al-Qaida — and that repaying such assistance with confrontation risks undermining the real war on terror around the world.