The left has been all over Bush for ordering the Syrian strike last weekend, believing it nothing more than a ploy to boost McCain's chances.
But there was apparently a very good reason for hitting that target when we did; a senior al-Qaeda leader was present and he may have either been killed or captured:
Abu Ghadiyain, the target of Sunday's Special Operations raid in Sukkariyeh --about 4-5 miles away from Syria's border with Iraq, was at one point in the custody of U.S. forces, the official said. However, another U.S. official from a separate agency said Monday that latest intelligence shows Ghadiyain was killed.
Ghadiyain was believed to be associated with the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, funneling combatants, arms and cash into the war-torn country.
Ninety percent of foreign fighters enter Iraq through Syria, according to U.S. intelligence estimates, bringing cash to Al Qaeda in Iraq's chief. They also are deadly — trained in bomb-making and willing to sacrifice themselves in suicide attacks.
If we have him in custody, obviously, we don't want to announce the fact given that any such proclamation would no doubt send his compatriots scurrying for cover. And if he's dead, why not make the enemy think we have him? We win either way.
This answers the question of "why now" when we've spent the last 5 years basically keeping a hands off posture to what was going on in Syria near the border. We have improved border security dramatically but we did little except jawbone the Syrians about allowing the terrorists to operate in their country in the first place.
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting response to Syria's caterwauling:
The Syrians have an interesting definition of unprovoked and a curious notion of sovereignty. Even before U.S. troops took Baghdad, then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld explicitly warned that Syria was shipping military equipment to help Saddam Hussein, including night-vision goggles and antitank weapons. Only days after Baghdad fell, Mr. Bush warned Damascus against becoming a safe haven for top Iraqi Baathist officials. "We expect cooperation," he said, "and I'm hopeful we'll receive cooperation." Siding with Secretary of State Colin Powell over Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Bush dispatched Mr. Powell to Damascus in a show of postinvasion diplomatic goodwill.
President Bashar al Assad did not reciprocate, and Damascus soon became the capital in exile from which the Sunni insurgency was financed, organized and directed. In late 2003, Cofer Black, the State Department's Counterterrorism Coordinator, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Syria "needs to do a lot more" to stop terrorist infiltration, but added that he "remained optimistic that continued engagement with Syria will one day lead to a change in Syrian behavior."
It didn't. The following May, Mr. Bush ordered the minimum possible sanctions on Damascus under the Syria Accountability Act of 2003. Though Damascus offered some token intelligence cooperation, it also turned Damascus International Airport into the central hub through which jihadists from Morocco to Saudi Arabia could reach Iraq. Insurgent leaders were brazen enough to hold meetings, in Damascus hotels, that were known both to Syrian and U.S. intelligence.
We've given the Syrians ample opportunity to comply with the simple, decent request that they stop assisting terrorists from entering Iraq. They ignored our request so we decided to protect our men and the Iraqi people by going in. It really is that simple and anyone who tries to complicate the situation is trying too hard.
It won't stop Syria from meddling in Iraq but at least it will slow down the trickle of foreign fighters who make it into Iraq.