The Hot-Cold War in Syria

The Cold War of the previous century was not very cold. Just ask the citizens of Korea and Viet Nam. It was hot in those nations, indeed very hot. The USA and Co. and the USSR and Co. chose to go to war with each other. Of course, they preferred to fight a proxy war in someone else’s back yard.

In Korea and Vietnam, the Americans were committed to supporting the democratic side of the conflict, whereas the Soviets supported the communist side. Coincidentally, the geographic alignment repeated itself: South (democratic) against North (communist). In both scenarios, there was a gradual process of escalation. First, each super-power expressed support for its ally by declarations in the media. Then ensued funding of the ally, provision of armaments and military advisors, until in the last stage, soldiers were actually sent into battle.

It is safe to say that the USA and Co. represented the right side of the conflict. These communist dictatorships did not usher in an era of global peace and security, quite the contrary. This is evident, when we view North Korea, one of the last communist bastions, which not only terrorizes its own people, but the rest of the world, as well.  Thus, we can thank the USA for doing everything in its power to curb the influence of such regimes.

Much has been written about the civil war in Syria, and the fact that it is actually a twenty-first century expression of a cold-hot proxy war, once again raging between the USA and Russia. Each super-power has chosen its local ‘champion’ and is supporting it at this stage by providing both funds and armaments.

Considerable criticism has been directed at the government of Israel recently over its decision to stand against President Assad in the current conflict. The bombing of Syrian weapons storage facilities, followed by Netanyahu’s trip to Russia in an effort to convince Putin to stop providing arms to Assad’s government, have sent a clear message. We are the local ally of the USA in this conflict. In regard to the Syrian uprising, I think that Netanyahu has wisely crafted his policy.

At first glance, it does not seem logical for Israel to support the rebel forces in Syria, a piecemeal army comprised of Moslem factions, which oppose Israel and the Western values we hold dear, such as human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Furthermore, in recent years, a type of stable yet cold “peace” has existed between Israel and Syria. Nevertheless, we cannot ignore the fact that the Assad government is supported by Iran. If he defeats the rebels and remains in power, Iran’s footprint in our region will be significantly enlarged. It is unnecessary to expand on the negative implications of such a result.

The truth is that this discussion is an exercise in futility. Netnayahu has no choice. He cannot ask the US government to assure our security against the Iranian threat, and at the same time support Assad’s government, which is essentially an Iranian surrogate. In addition, Israel’s strong alliance with the USA, as viewed by our neighbors, contributes to our persona of strength and thus serves as a deterrent to our regional enemies.

Regardless of the fact that Bibi has lost altitude in recent polls because of his ‘flying bed’, he has clearly chosen his geo-political bedmates well, and he will remain true to these partners in order to protect the basic interests of the State of Israel.

About the Author
Calev Michael Myers is the Deputy President of the International Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists (IAJLJ) and serves as one of their Representatives before the UN in Geneva and New York. He is also a Senior Partner at Yehuda Raveh & Co. Law Offices (YR&Co.). The opinions expressed in Calev's blogs may not necessarily reflect the opinions of the IAJLJ or YR&Co.