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Willisms

« Quote Of The Day | WILLisms.com | The Gaza Coup And Magical Thinking »

Syrian Dog-And-Pony Show

One of the alleged 'faults' of the Bush administration is a lack of dialogue with our enemies, in particular Syria. What Bush's detractors don't understand is how pointless and unproductive such diplomacy really is, as Damascus Nancy Pelosi found to her chagrin earlier this year.

Had Pelosi done her homework (as she clearly had not, she was in way over her head) she would have realized that for generations now, Syria under Hafez Assad, and now under his son Bahsar Assad, has offered nothing but the official Ba'ath party line. The Syrians are so rigid in this doctrine, that they cling to it even when properly gaming the situation to their benefit dictates another course of action. For example, Nancy Pelosi bumbled her way into Damascus in an effort to jump start negotiations that Bush had allegedly neglected. Had the Syrians properly rewarded Pelosi with some small gesture - even, say, releasing some political prisoners or agreeing on paper to beef up their border security with Iraq - the Syrians could have caused a split in American diplomatic authority and gravely embarassed Bush. But they passed, because the Syrians are woefully unimaginative on such matters, and their entire focus is on Lebanon and how many Syrian opponents they can blow up. They know no other way, and nuance is not their strong suit.

As Anton Efendi makes clear, in reference to Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema's recent meaningless diplomacy with Syria:

Let's see: The British Nigel Scheinwald went and got nothing, then the German FM Frank Walter Steinmeier went and got nothing. They were then followed by Sen. Bill Nelson who got absolutely nothing. Actually check that: he got, in his words, "the usual dog-and-pony show" and "the standard party line." Then the EU's Javier Solana was sent on behalf of the EU, and guess what? He got nothing. The Saudis got nothing and since the Riyadh summit (where they told Bashar what was expected of him in no uncertain terms) they have not had any contact with the Syrians. The Egyptians got nothing. The Arab League's Amr Moussa got nothing. And so on and so forth.

Some will say, we should just talk anyway. What can it hurt?

It makes a mockery of diplomacy. It marks diplomacy as an empty gesture, talking for talking's sake, a way to keep the Harvard intenational relations grads busy. Both sides have to want to achieve something via diplomacy, and both sides must make an effort to at least put forth an image of doing so in good faith. Syria is so contemptuous of diplomacy, they don't even know how to take advantage of it to their own benefit.

To talk to such people just trivializes diplomacy. If the Syrians really want something from us, they know where to find us.

Posted by Ken McCracken · 14 June 2007 09:54 PM

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