Monday, May 21, 2007

Big Daddy diplomacy

By Libby

You know until we invaded Iraq, I've mostly avoided talking about the Middle East, particularly Arab-Israeli politics, for most of life. I've never been able to make sense of how it works. For instance, I just don't get this.
The Bush administration has given Israel permission to discuss the future of the Golan Heights, security arrangements and Israeli-Syrian peace accords if it agrees to talks with Syria.

However, Washington has stipulated that Israel must not agree to any negotiations, even indirectly, on the United States' position, or on the future of Lebanon.

Furthermore, Israel must not make promises to Syria regarding U.S. policy. According to the new position, Washington will deal directly with Syria on these matters.
Why the hell should a soverign country need our permission to engage in its own diplomacy and why would they be negotiate on our behalf in the first place? We both have our own state departments and while we certainly share common interests, we hardly have the exact same set of concerns.

Not that this administration doesn't appear to need some help. Washington claims it will deal directly, but about what?
Syria's role in terrorism, the presence of terrorist organizations in Damascus and its involvement in smuggling weapons to Hezbollah and the Palestinian territories are currently issues which the U.S. is not discussing with Damascus.

Iran and its military connection with Syria is also not a topic that is open to discussion at present.
What does that leave to discuss? The weather? Shopping? Maybe the dinner menu? And of course our heavy handed edicts go both ways.
During a recent visit to Israel, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice responded forcefully when the issue of Assad's call for a resumption of negotiations with Israel was raised.

"It is best that you avoid even exploring this possibility," she said.
Am I the only one who's reminded of the politics of grammar school when you couldn't be Sally's friend if you wanted to be Jane's friend too, because Jane was mad at Sally? There was always that one manipulative, bossy kid in the group that instigated trouble but as I recall everyone got along fine when she was absent from school. How different is that really from these absurd machinations?
Rice intends to invite Syria as well as Palestinian representatives and Israel to an international summit on the Arab-Israeli conflict, according to a plan being drafted by the U.S. State Department.

If this occurs, the American position regarding possible talks between Israel and Syria will no longer be relevant.
The real question is why is it relevant in the first place? It seems to me the international community could go a long towards resolving the current turmoil by simply telling the White House to take a flying leap and ask America to call them when they get some grown-ups back in office.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

the US is desperately clinging to the pre 9/11 status quo of them as impartial arbitrater / gentle encourager of democracy. if it seems ridiculous it's because it is. The idea that something lasting or meaningful is going to come out of these anally retentive rulesets regarding dialogue is laughable.

1:01:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Lester - Everything they do is so arrogant and counterproductive you can almost only conclude they're fucking it up on purpose.

1:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:04:00 PM  
Blogger RR said...

In the bizzaro-world of Bush politics this makes sense: results don't matter - its all about the principled stand.

They just don't seem to understand their principles are idiotic.

4:42:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

RoR - I'm not sure you can call it principles. I think of it as more of a agenda but you certainly got the idiotic part right.

8:57:00 PM  

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