With Amy Goodman
"The Syrian government has condemned a deadly US military raid near the Iraqi border as “terrorist aggression.” The Bush administration has remained mum, stoking fears it could be trying to provoke further conflict in its remaining months in office. We speak to Robert Dreyfuss of The Nation magazine and University of Oklahoma professor Joshua Landis......
ROBERT DREYFUSS: Well, you know, part of the problem, of course, is that there are conflicting reports about what happened and what didn’t happen. But it appears, at least, that this was not just an air raid, but this was actually a raid involving commandos and helicopters, something like the attack, I would say, that happened on September 3rd, the one and only time that we know about in Afghanistan where American forces crossed into Pakistan and conducted an on-the-ground raid inside Pakistan.
In both of these cases, they seem to be the logical expression of a decision that was made over the summer by the President, allowing US Special Operations Forces to conduct these cross-border or hot-pursuit raids into countries—in Pakistan’s case, an ally, and in Syria’s case, an adversary, I guess—to conduct these cross-border raids against people who the United States decided that it didn’t like, based on intelligence. We have, you know, extremely aggressive intelligence methods and surveillance and drone aircraft and everything else that watch these people, sometimes for hours or days at a time. And it, in turn, raises the question now of whether the United States might consider similar raids into Iran, which is in—over the past two years, has been increasingly blamed by the United States for supporting militant activity by especially Shiites in Iraq, based in training camps and transit facilities and so forth, both outside Tehran and along the Iran-Iraq border.
I describe this as kind of a parallel doctrine to the Bush Doctrine, where you had earlier the Bush Doctrine that said we can conduct preventive military action against countries that, you know, we perceive to be possibly threatening. In this case now, we’re conducting Special Forces or commando attacks against bases or facilities in countries that we think are harboring people who are conducting attacks on American or allied forces. This is a very, very, very troubling thing. If you go back to the origins, the beginning of the so-called war on terrorism, this is what it was supposed to look like.
And last week, I went to see Mike Vickers, who commands the Special Operations Forces—not commands them, but he’s the Assistant Secretary of Defense. He described how that unit—that those forces have doubled pretty much under the Bush administration and are set for further expansion. And this is a huge tool that’s now been created that can be used in many, many situations, in many countries. He said they operate now in sixty countries. So, this is potentially a major escalation of the war on terrorism just at the declining days of the Bush administration.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And, Robert Dreyfuss, the impact within Iraq itself? I mean, obviously already, one of the sticking points in reaching an agreement with the Iraqi government over the retention of US forces in Iraq is the issue that the Iraqi government is now saying, “Well, we want this agreement to include that there will be no attacks on other countries by US forces on Iraqi soil.”
ROBERT DREYFUSS: Yeah. This pretty much, you know, puts the final nail in the coffin of the idea that the US and Iraq are going to come to some kind of Status of Forces Agreement. I’ve been saying for six months that there was no chance that this agreement could be signed, because of opposition inside Iraq.
The big irony here is that, only recently, Syria decided to send an ambassador to Iraq and, by the way, also send an ambassador to Lebanon, two major steps by Syria to try to build bridges both to its neighboring countries, but to the world at large. And this is a huge slap in the face to that effort.
The Iraqis now have protested the attack on Syria. They’ve promised the Syrians that they would conduct their own investigation and report to Damascus about what they find out. And this has created a nationalist backlash inside Iraq that I think is astonishingly bad for any effort by the Bush administration to try to conclude this agreement about what US forces can and can’t do from Iraq. Now, maybe that happened because they realize that it’s already too late for that agreement, and there won’t be any agreements. So it looks like that’s going back to the United Nations sometime next month......"