Several thousand Syrian demonstrators set the Danish and the Norwegian embassies on fire on Saturday to protest at the publishing of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad by European newspapers.
Chanting "God is Greatest," the protesters stormed the embassy; threw stones and shattered its windows; burned the national flag and replaced it with another flag reading "No God but Allah, Mohammad is His Prophet."
The protesters also set the Norwegian embassy ablaze. It was brought under control by firefighters. Police fired teargas to disperse the protesters and cordoned off the area.A security official at the scene said the Danish building, located at the upscale Abou Remaneh area, also housed the Chilean and the Swedish embassies. He had no further details.
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has also advised Norwegians to leave Syria. Norway has already pulled all aid workers and diplomats out of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip after protests there.
Admittedly, my first thought was a long string of obscenities. As I try to keep this a family-friendly blog, I'll refrain from publishing them for your perusal. This was almost immediately followed by me moving the electric heater into my room to try and ward off the sudden chills.
This act by the Syrian protestors is almost as bad as when the Iranians took over the embassy in Tehran back in 1979. The greater severity comes from the fact that it wasn't just one embassy involved, but a total of four, as the same building containing the Danish embassy also housed the embassies of (and therefore sovereign territory of) Chile and Sweden. The lesser severity comes from there being no reports of either fatalities or hostages being taken, for which I thank every single Deity ever known to humanity.
But this has to make me think... Does this act bring us closer to a point where we have to invade Syria? Not necessarily alone, mind you. This could easily be taken by certain segments of the European Union as falling under Section 6 of the North Atlantic Treaty, to whit:
on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America, on the Algerian Departments of France, on the territory of or on the Islands under the jurisdiction of any of the Parties in the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer;
on the forces, vessels, or aircraft of any of the Parties, when in or over these territories or any other area in Europe in which occupation forces of any of the Parties were stationed on the date when the Treaty entered into force or the Mediterranean Sea or the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer.
Violation of sovereign territory, of multiple signatory nations, in a city north of the Tropic of Cancer, located in the territory of a nation bordering on the Mediterranean Sea? Sounds like applicability under Section 6 could easily be determined to me. The only rub here is that this was not technically an "armed attack" which is diplomatically defined as being performed by the uniformed services of a nation. This was an angry mob, not the Syrian Army, that did this. Now, if Damascus does absolutely nothing to punish the offenders, then the argument could be made that event has been condoned by the Syrian government, whether formally or casually, thus making a case for it being an action effectively supported post facto by the Syrian government. And with that, the case for invoking Section 6 is brought back into the forefront.
(Ye gods, there have been times when I wondered why the hell I was an international relations geek. And times like this make me glad of it.)
These posts by The Flannel Avenger, Gus van Horn, and Mike N leave little to the imagination that certain segments of the American political spectrum are hoping, if not actively praying, for Syria (along with Iran and certain portions of Pakistan) (Okay, so I agree with the latter one.) to fall under active invasion. And that, as The Flannel Avenger wrote, "will have to be by admitting that we are, in fact, at war with Islamist countries." Which was immediately followed by this one, and one I have firm agreement with. Hence the separate block-quote and bolding.
Congress must approve a declaration of war that describes exactly why we are intervening.Any further American action in the Middle East, even one where we are brought in through treaty agreements unrelated to and predating the Armed Struggle Against Violent Extremism, cannot simply be entered into via a weaseling through the War Powers Resolution of 1973. (For those that missed it, see my analysis of the various WPR-related resolutions here.) Let Congress officially declare war. Period. Ad infinitum. Ad astra. Forever. World without end. Omayn. No more political sleight-of-hand and issue-dodging on behalf of the Bush Administration. Make it official.
And this is not simply limited to Syria. Let Tehran know that the moment the alledged geniuses in Foggy Bottom suspect that they actually possess an active nuclear weapon, the Congress should dedicate the entire power and strength of the United States towards the goal of beating them so badly that their great-grandchildren will be born with concussions. If Pakistan continues to waffle on the issue of capturing Osama bin Laden at all costs, let The People's Branch of the United States Government inform the world as a whole precisely what it is we are doing, and why we feel the need to do it.
Basically, what I'm getting at is this. All these hawks to the right of me want to see war, yet they don't press for the war itself. If you want it, the Syrian people just gave you the opportunity to demand that the Republican-controlled Congress, the very party a vast majority of hawks are represented by, either do this next one right or keep our boys and girls where they belong. Tell them, in the strongest words possible, to stand up and say, just like Shakespeare's Antony:
And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,So what's it going to be then, eh? Who else will pick up this gauntlet? Who else will challenge the hawks of the country to truly put their money where their mouths are?
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war;
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.