As Stubborn as Her Boss

Friday, December 15, 2006

As Stubborn as Her Boss

That's the only conclusion I can draw to sum up Condi Rice's reaction to the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. According to the Wash Post:
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday rejected a bipartisan panel's recommendation that the United States seek the help of Syria and Iran in Iraq, saying the "compensation" required by any deal might be too high. She argued that neither country should need incentives to foster stability in Iraq.
Hell, every country needs "incentives" to change its foreign policy in a significant way. The need to keep Persian Gulf oil flowing is one major incentive that has made the U.S. willing to commit thousands of troops and engage in constant diplomacy with nations in that region since the 1970s.
"If they have an interest in a stable Iraq, they will do it anyway," Rice said .... She said she did not want to trade away Lebanese sovereignty to Syria or allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon as a price for peace in Iraq.
I agree with that last point, but it's wrong to assume that these would be the only incentives that could entice Syria and Iran to exert a more stabilizing influence on Iraq.

If this is their quid pro quo, we can always say, "Well, at least we gave it a try" and walk away from the table. But what harm is there in simply sitting down with them?

When he was asked recently by NPR about the ISG's recommendation that the U.S. talk with Iran and Syria, former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson framed his response simply but eloquently. Even when Russia and the U.S. were the bitterest Cold War rivals, said Simpson, they always had a phone in Washington and Moscow that instantly connected the leaders of our two nations so they could discuss dicey issues.

His point: If we could talk then with Russia, surely we can talk now with Syria and Iran.

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