Across the Bay

Friday, October 13, 2006

Selling Nothing, at a Price

Never mind the regime's flaks. Anyone who keeps coming up with the bright idea that Assad wants "peace," and would solve it in "six months" and all that jazz should read this piece (make sure to read page 2):

[T]hey trade with vague promises and are sure to receive generous down payments from eager buyers. Yet in the bazaar only the stupid buyer pays for something he has yet to see.

This is something I've talked about before, but it's worth repeating, cause "processing" is a chronic disease. It never really goes away. It's worse than jock itch.

I will conclude with two lines from that post that fit this argument:

"[Assad] will try to induce Washington to pay him for allowing himself to be helped." That is because Assad wants a price for selling nothing. Remember, Assad's "cards" are his policy.

As for "exploring ideas," or as the regime's caricaturish ambassador put it, "brainstorming," ummm, let's not. For "Syria would gain 90 per cent of what it wants, just by being engaged." In fact, if you listen to the flaks, esp. the US-based ones, you'd quickly realize that this is the case and this is precisely what's being sought. The process is the end goal; selling nothing, at an ever increasing price (we went from "land for peace" and "Assad is obsessed with the Golan" [no better example of "utter bull"], to "acknowledging Syria's 'special role' in Lebanon." Wait, why just Lebanon, "Syria's role in the Middle East" [why not give him a slice of Iraq too, and the Palestinians while we're at it!]. If you, like the ridiculous Fred Kaplan, didn't immediately realize that you were being taken for a ride by dishonest flaks, then let Assad himself clarify it for you: "Were we to resolve our territorial dispute with Israel over the Golan Heights alone, we wouldn't achieve stability." But of course... We always knew it was never about the Golan, as Former French Defense Minister Alain Richard put it: "[O]ne of Syria's main assets is its domination over Lebanon. Consequentially, any settlement that would call into question its domination over Lebanon, even if it means regaining Syrian territory (from Israel), does not suit it.").

"[T]he bane of diplomacy is to substitute process for purpose. Diplomacy should not be confused with glibness."

Update: Ammar Abdulhamid discusses a related issue.

Addendum: Read this too, from Barry Rubin a few weeks ago. What it takes to hoodwink people and what the Syrians are really thinking when they talk about "peace."

I should continue to remind people that it was the Syrians who lobbied hard to make sure that any mention of "normalization" with Israel was removed from the Saudi plan in 2002.