Robert Fisk convinces himself that Israel has ‘dragged the West into Syrian war’


It seems that the ethically challenged British ‘journalist’ Robert Fisk wanted desperately to impute the worst motives to Israel in analyzing reports of up to a dozen IAF strikes over the last few days on advanced Syrian weapons to prevent their transfer to Hezbollah.  However, the weakness of his latest essay suggests that he may have found the case against Israel’s sober decision not to allow Iranian made Fateh-110 missiles to fall into the hands of the Shiite terror movement allied with Bashar al-Assad was simply too difficult.

File photo of the Iranian made Fateh 110 missile, which Israel reported targeted in raids into Syria over the weekend.

File photo of the Iranian made Fateh 110 missile, which Israel reportedly targeted in raids into Syria over the weekend.

Facts have not served much of an obstacle for Fisk in the past when desiring a particular conclusion to a story, and his May 5 piece in the Indy –  implicitly suggesting that Israel is dragging unwilling, ineffectual Western governments into foreign wars - seems to be no exception.

fisk

He begins by expressing skepticism over the ‘official’ reason for Israel’s reported raid on Bashar al-Assad’s weapons and military facilities:

The story is already familiar: the Israelis wanted to prevent a shipment of Iranian-made Fateh-110 missiles reaching Hezbollah in Lebanon;  they were being sent by the Syrian government. According, at least, to a ‘Western intelligence source’. Anonymous, of course. And it opens the old question: why when the Syrian regime is fighting for its life would it send advanced missiles out of Syria?

Well, for starters, Iran and Hezbollah have both backed President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war, a conflict, now in its third year, which has claimed over 70,000 lives and produced over one million refugees. But as fighting between forces loyal to the Assad regime and the rebels escalates,  Assad has a powerful interest in facilitating the delivery of advanced weapons to Hezbollah in case he loses his grip on power and it becomes more difficult for the regime to channel weapons from Iran directly to Damascus.

Additionally, some analysts have argued that an even more heavily armed Hezbollah could become a powerful ally for Assad if he is forced to leave Damascus and take refuge in the Hezbollah-controlled northern Bekaa Valley.

Later, Fisk gets to the central thesis of his polemic:

Much more important, however, is the salient fact that Israel has now intervened in the Syrian war.  It may say it was only aiming at weapons destined for the Hezbollah – but these were weapons also being used against rebel forces in Syria.  By diminishing the regime’s supply of these weapons, it is therefore helping the rebels overthrow Bashar al-Assad. And since Israel regards itself as a Western nation – best friend and best US military ally in the Middle East, etc, etc – this means that “we” are now involved in the war, directly and from the air. 

Fisk’s specious logic nearly “Fisks” itself, as his entire argument – that Israel has dragged the West into a foreign war – seems largely based on the following argument cum non-sequitur:

1. Israel has attacked arms caches in Syria

2. Israel regards itself as a Western nation.

3. Therefore, Israel has dragged the West into the Syrian war.

The Indy contributor offers nothing else to suggest that Israeli strikes to prevent the transfer of deadly weapons to Syria has any influence whatsoever on the current debate in the US, or within other Western nations, over whether to intervene militarily in the civil war.

Of course, in addition to the speciousness of his logic, Fisk is essentially parroting Assad talking points – which, notably, was also employed in a highly misleading headline chosen by a major UK news corporation - that Israel is acting in alliance with “Islamist terrorists” to overthrow the regime, a charge so unserious that even Guardian Middle East Editor Ian Black dismissed it as “lacking any evidence”.

Finally, Fisk complains thusly:

Let’s see if the US and the EU condemn Israel’s air attacks. I doubt it. Which would mean, if we are silent, that we approve of them.

However, Fisk’s suggestion that the US has been “silent” on the reported attacks is flatly untrue.

President Obama stated, after news of IAF strikes on Syria was first reported, that Israel was justified to guard “against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terror groups like Hezbollah” and suggested that there is considerable US-Israeli coordination regarding the threat of weapons transfers in Syria – a clear expression of support for Israel’s right to self-defense which was also echoed yesterday by UK foreign secretary William Hague.

One of the few places outside of the Syrian propaganda ministry where Israel’s decision to prevent Hezbollah – an Iranian backed illegal militia which occupies large swaths of Lebanon – from acquiring more deadly weaponry represents a ‘dangerous provocation’ which may ignite another Western war in the Mid-East is the mind of Robert Fisk.

23 comments on “Robert Fisk convinces himself that Israel has ‘dragged the West into Syrian war’

  1. Robert Fisk convinces himself that Israel has ‘dragged the West into Syrian war’

    Erm …. where exactly in the Fisk article is that quote?

    • Perhaps the headline gives you a hint:

      The truth is that after Israel’s air strikes, we are involved

      Also this little paragraph:

      And since Israel regards itself as a Western nation – best friend and best US military ally in the Middle East, etc, etc – this means that “we” are now involved in the war, directly and from the air.

      • Eh? Where does Fisk say that Israel has “dragged the West into Syrian war”?

            • “We are now militarily involved.”
              Paraphrasing this conclusion is allowed and implicitly meant.
              Admitted, it is not a citation.

              • “Paraphrasing this conclusion is allowed”

                Yes – as such absolutely. But putting quote marks around it implies it’s a direct citation. And it isn’t, is it?

                Funny how nobody else here can just acknowledge that, isn’t it.

                I can imagine the outrage here if a Guardian writer did something similar with an Israeli govt. non-quote …

  2. Adam, excellent fisking (if you excuse the pun). I read the article and my teeth began to grate almost immediately. I simply cannot stand Fisk’s whiny tone in all his columns, but particularly when he writes about Israel.

  3. More idiocy from Fisk:

    If the Syrian air force can use their MiGs so devastatingly – and at such civilian cost – against their enemies inside Syria, why couldn’t they have sent their jets to protect Damascus and attack the Israeli aircraft?

    Can’t the man read? It has been widely reported that the Israeli planes stayed within Lebanese airspace and fired from there precisely to avoid confronting the Syrian air force.

    Altogether he seems incapable of absorbing the fact that Israel wanted and needed to take out those missiles, irrespective of the fact that such a strike might aid one side or the other.

  4. The Independent has a very fine reputation regarding its staff members. Apart from Fisk there is the hero of the Guardinista left Johan Hari too…

  5. ” why when the Syrian regime is fighting for its life would it send advanced missiles out of Syria?”

    Actually, there are three simple answers to that question.

    1. Its payback to Hezbollah for their support of Assad
    2. These weapons are useless for fighting Al Queda and other Islamists engaged in a civil war
    3. He is hoping that Hezbollah would use them against Israel to distract world attention from his own problems.

    And, of course – his hatred for Israel means we would just as soon bring down the roof on his own head if he thought her could harm Israel.

    • Well, three possible answers.

      But where Fisk certainly does look silly is in his subsequent query: “If the Syrian air force can use their MiGs so devastatingly – and at such civilian cost – against their enemies inside Syria, why couldn’t they have sent their jets to protect Damascus and attack the Israeli aircraft?”

      a) It’s a stupid question.
      b) As Fisk bizarrely has no answer, does he have some wild & wacky theory to explain matters?

  6. Just wondering …

    … Iranian made Fateh-110 missiles … into the hands of the Shiite terror movement allied with Bashar al-Assad

    Could well be the case, of course – but on what basis does the author state this as fact?

    • Prenzlauerberg, you need to read at least ONE more news paper and blog before you out yourself as being out of depth.

  7. Fisk stopped being “us” when he moved to Lebanon. Fisk better have a grab bag at the ready. For when the Sunni’s win in Syria and ride over the pass into lebanon they will find pro Hezbollah propagandists such as him. And they will not treat him kindly.

  8. Pingback: Robert Fisk: Assad is winning … — State of Globe

  9. Pingback: Robert Fisk on Syria’s Civil War, Chemical Weapons “Theater” & Obama’s Backing of Israeli Strikes | Family Survival Protocol / Microcosm News

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