Syria Ambassador To U.S. Says He Wants Dialogue On Iraq's Future
Syria’s ambassador to the U.S., Imad Moustapha, told the Wall Street Journal that Syria wants to engage with the U.S. on Iraq’s future.
Moustapha noted that Condoleeza Rice is the first Secretary of State since 1974 "to have no working relationship with Syria whatsoever.”
Three of Rice’s predecessors as secretaries of state — James Baker, Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell — have argued recently in favor of engaging Syria. Another former Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, shuttled between Damascus and Jerusalem to negotiate a truce between Israel and Hezbollah in 1996.
But, Moustapha said, Rice "won’t listen to her former colleagues. ... (S)he has made up her own mind: Engagement with the Syrians does not benefit."
Maybe it's not fair to blame Rice. She is only carrying out the Bush Administration (read: neocon) gameplan, which argues that diplomacy with a country with ties to terrorism is equal to appeasement.
The last we heard from the State Department on Syria was more tough talk -- which has worked so well with the "Axis of Evil" and would-be members like Syria. State Department Deputy Tom Casey said last month that the problem "is not what they say; the problem is what they do."
But only a fool would think that there is no benefit from a face-to-face conversation with the "enemy." Only a fool would think that by sitting down with Syria, we would not be able to talk tough -- that to sit with them would make the U.S. the equivalent of Neville Chamberlain's England.
As JABBS noted in July, the fact that the Bush Administration hasn't talked with Syria has had only negative effects. The U.S. has had no ability to set the terms on issues from "foreign fighters" crossing over the Syrian-Iraqi border to Syria's continued assistance of Hezbollah.
Syria is not to be commended for its ties to terrorism. But to look the other way -- as the Bush team has chosen to do -- is only hurting the long-term stability of the Middle East.