Carol Platt Liebau: "Talking" With Syria and Iraq

Monday, November 27, 2006

"Talking" With Syria and Iraq

This piece from The New York Times asserts that the Iraq Survey Group will urge the United States to "talk" with Iran and Syria as part of the effort to stabilize Iraq.

Well, we all know by now that James Baker has said, "[I]n my view it is not appeasement to talk to your enemies." And that certainly sounds very nice and broadminded.

The question, of course, is what does one talk to them about? Does Baker think there is some kind of golden ticket that will convince America's determined enemies to stop acting against American interests just like that? And what, exactly, is the purpose of elevating terrorists like Assad and Ahmadinejad to a position of equality by talking when -- not only are their goals diametrically opposed to ours -- but neither has any incentive whatsoever to help the US? Take Iran. What does it want -- the ability to build nukes? Oops. They're doing that anyway. Never mind.

But the ugly fact is that they're going to want something (that they can't already get anyway) in exchange for their "help" in Iraq. And sensing the terrified desperation that characterizes most of the press coverage of Iraq, they're likely to ask for something fairly significant. What then?

It strikes me that "talking" for its own sake is another example of the diplomatic mindset that puts process over results . . . an approach that's created many of the problems we're already confronting.

But it's also hard to feel too sorry for the Administration that has created this monster. According to the Times story:

“I think there is fear that anything [members of the Iraq Survey Group] say will seem like they are etched in stone tablets,” said a senior American diplomat. “It’s going to be hard for the president to argue that a group this distinguished, and this bipartisan, has got it wrong.”

Precisely. These commissions inevitably become nothing more than a club with which political opponents can beat the Adminstration -- remember the 9/11 commission?

If there's anyone I do feel sorry for, it's the brave Iraqis who took risks with their own lives (and their families') to stand against the terrorists who may well take over if the United States gives up any hope of victory in Iraq -- a position that seems quickly to be becoming the norm.


Blogger eLarson said...

It depends on what you tell your enemies.

Maybe it is a matter of telling them (not asking them) about supply lines leading from their respective countries into Iraq. And then telling them (not asking them) that they are going to disappear.

And then perhaps a mild "we'd appreciate your help in making that happen."

10:53 AM  

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