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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

More Sugar, Less Vinegar

posted by Jazz at 2/23/2005 01:55:00 PM

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The folks at the Independent Institute have put out the latest issue of The Lighthouse this week. It contains an interesting analysis on our country's current relations with both Syria and Iran, called Saber Rattling Against Syria. It's a good read all the way through, but here's some of the money quotes. (All bold emphasis mine.)

It is hypocritical for the administration to punish Syria for assassinating a former Lebanese prime minister (assuming the Syrians did it) when the U.S. led its own campaign to kill leaders of the Iraqi regime, including Saddam Hussein and his two sons. It is also duplicitous for the Bush administration to point the finger at Syria for having 14,000 troops in Lebanon, when the United States originally approved that troop presence and when it has 150,000 of its own troops occupying Iraq.

If odious regimes such as Syria are never rewarded for anything positive, they have no incentive to behave better. This does not mean holding them in a tight embrace or condoning their abysmal human rights practices. It does mean treating them with a wary pragmatism and not assuming all they do is evil.

I know that treasonous words like that might come as a shock to the more hawk minded in the crowd, but others might recognize it something we used to call "diplomacy." The article continues.

The Bush administration should follow its own lead and imitate its successful policy with Libya. The administration provided a powerful incentive for Muammar Qaddafi, Libya’s despotic strongman who also has been suspected of trying to kill a foreign leader, to give up his nuclear weapons program. It offered Qaddafi an end to international economic isolation in exchange for better behavior.

In contrast, Syria’s and Iran’s efforts at some cooperation with U.S. policies have been shot down in their infancy. In the case of Iran, the regime quit cooperating with the United States when it realized that the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan was more or less permanent. Furthermore, President Bush has actually declared that he would not ease relations even if the Iranians gave up their nuclear program. Why should those regimes improve their behavior if they feel that they can do nothing right and the goal posts keep moving back when they take a step, however tentative, in a positive direction? As unbelievable as it may seem, considering the Iraqi debacle, the military threats by the Bush administration against Iran and Syria closely resemble the pre-invasion threats the administration made against Iraq.

A little more sugar and a little less vinegar toward “rogue states” might give these countries an incentive for better behavior.

It's a great piece on peace, if you will. Remember that only this week, standing in Europe, Bush told the world that rumors that he was about to attack Iran were "ridiculous." Just to get it on the record, here's the full quote with no editing.

"This notion that the United States is getting ready to attack Iran is simply ridiculous."

Then, with no pause for breath, he turned around and immediately said:

"Having said that, all options are on the table."

I'm still willing to hold out hope and give Bush the benefit of the doubt and say that he might be serious. Time will tell, and with any luck, we'll be here to record it for you.