Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 23, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

NO TALKS....Via Josh, Haaretz reports that Condoleezza Rice has told the Israelis to keep Syria in the deep freeze:

When Israeli officials asked Secretary Rice about the possibility of exploring the seriousness of Syria in its calls for peace talks, her response was unequivocal: Don't even think about it.

....Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has so far adopted the strict American position not to respond to the Syrian feelers.

On the other hand, at the Foreign Ministry and within the defense establishment, there is a greater degree of openness to the offers, and the overall view is that the door should not be closed entirely to the Syrians. Similarly, many believe that the Syrian offers should be tested for their sincerity.

Nope. Can't have that. Apparently the Bush administration view is not that making concessions would be too big a reward for Syria's bad behavior. It's not even that talks would be too big a reward. Nor is it that talks with the Israelis -- no Americans involved! -- would be too big a reward. No, the American position is that even exploratory talks would be a bridge too far. Stick that in your hookah and smoke it.

However, in more positive news, Haaretz also reports that 10,000 tons of apples will be delivered to Syria from the Golan Heights. What this has to do with the rest of the story I couldn't tell you.

Kevin Drum 1:21 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (46)

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Comments

Excellent post Kevin, I see you were way ahead of me. The foreign policy failings of the Bush Administration have gone past the point of incompetence and, at this point, constitute a willful refusal to act in the best interests of both the United States and the world.

Posted by: bmaz on February 23, 2007 at 1:44 AM | PERMALINK

I'm suspicious of this story. If the Israeli government were solidly convinced that talking to Syria would be in their national interest, they'd go for it and tell George Bush to stuff it. So, my guess is that the Israelis are divided (some want to talk to Syria, some don't) and the advocates of talking are trying to embarrass the other side by telling Ha'aretz that Condi is bossing Israel around (something that they know full well won't play well with the Israeli public, especially the left-wing Ha'aretz readership).

Posted by: Joe Buck on February 23, 2007 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

What this piece doesn't say is that 'secret' talks have been going on between Syria and Israel for a couple years. Haaretz reported on 1/17 of the progress made so far in the talks. A lot of progress! So this is even worse than it seems.
The US is demanding that a positive development that has already occurred be halted. How absymally stupid can this administration be?!!!!

Read about the terms of the principles that have been jointly approved by Israel and Syria so far here:

Israeli, Syrian representatives reach secret understandings/Haaretz

Posted by: nepeta on February 23, 2007 at 1:47 AM | PERMALINK

The foreign policy failings of the Bush Administration have gone past the point of incompetence and, at this point, constitute a willful refusal to act in the best interests of both the United States and the world.

Well put.

Kevin: Stick that in your hookah and smoke it.

Nice snark. More like this, please.

Posted by: yeah on February 23, 2007 at 1:55 AM | PERMALINK

However, in more positive news, Haaretz also reports that 10,000 tons of apples will be delivered to Syria from the Golan Heights. What this has to do with the rest of the story I couldn't tell you.

A message, clearly. "No, screw you, we're not talking. How d'you like THEM apples?"

Posted by: Lionel Hutz, attorney-at-law on February 23, 2007 at 2:08 AM | PERMALINK

Bushworld:

If we ignore stuff we don't like, it goes away!

Posted by: craigie on February 23, 2007 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

But as a partner in renditions and torture Syria's just peachy. Go figure...

Posted by: Steve in Sacto on February 23, 2007 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory is unhealthy for Israel. America's Empire is unhealthy for the US. And the ties between Israel and the US are unhealthy for both.

Posted by: unhealthy all round on February 23, 2007 at 2:42 AM | PERMALINK

Easily explained. East India Company envy! Simple.

We are all colonialists now.

Posted by: gregor on February 23, 2007 at 2:45 AM | PERMALINK

In regards to those apples....

While clearly on a different level than the grand diplomacy, these sorts of small-bore economic ties may be important in their own way. I remember visiting a kibbutz some months before Israel signed the peace deal with Jordan in 1994 (this was on a completely conventional vacation-tour type trip). And one of the kibbutz farmers mentioned that he sold bananas to buyers in Jordan. He gave the impression that they did so quietly, that it was something of a small taboo but not exactly illegal enough to be punished. Plus, Israeli bureaucats can be pretty corrupt, so maybe a customs person was bribed, I don't know...

But like I said, this was just before the peace deal. And I bet that kibbutz and others had been selling bananas in Jordan for a long while time before that. The apples are some sort of low-grade and totally positive indicator.

Posted by: fooder on February 23, 2007 at 3:28 AM | PERMALINK

Part of the fun of reading these theme threads based on such speculative information is the names some people give themselves. "Frequency Kenneth" is a great handle!

Posted by: mike cook on February 23, 2007 at 5:35 AM | PERMALINK

bush can send people to Syria to be tortured, but no way are we going to talk to them.

Posted by: merlallen on February 23, 2007 at 7:36 AM | PERMALINK

...the naive goofballs who want to talk with Iran's puppet (Syria)

Because, you know, if we talk to them we might catch TEH IZLAME!!!

Posted by: Wilbur on February 23, 2007 at 7:57 AM | PERMALINK

Suggested shorter version of this post:

Rice: "how do you like those apples?"

Posted by: BruceR on February 23, 2007 at 8:40 AM | PERMALINK

Another sign of Bush's mandate from God. You have no need to negotiate with demons. Madness, simply madness.

Posted by: Neal on February 23, 2007 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

So, the adminstration is more Likudnik than the Likudniks, now . . .

Posted by: rea on February 23, 2007 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Why is this surprising?

The conservative philosophy is unequivocal at this point: America can do any evil it wants, never has to apologize or compensate for it, never has to accept concessions for its bad behavior, never has to acknowledge the negative consequences of the evil that it does but rather is privileged to rationalize it away, and is authorized by God to insist that even the most superficial evils of any other country requires absolute surrender of that country's sovereignty to American conservative will.

It's the twin evils of arrogance and conceit on steroids and conservatives are suffused with these evils.

Posted by: Google_This on February 23, 2007 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

What liberals don't realize is that foreign policy is like a grand chess game, and everything has to be looked at at once. Would you put your queen in danger just to win a knight? No, concessions to Syria would violate our President's grand strategy.

Remember, the Persians invented chess, so they know what they are doing. They would be quick to take advantage if we made a wrong move.

Posted by: Al on February 23, 2007 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Well, if foreign policy is a chess game, we're instead playing solitaire while missing a half-dozen cards from the deck. It never come out right.

Posted by: Neal on February 23, 2007 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

By the way Al, who is the "queen" who is in jeopardy? Have you heard from Jeff again?

Posted by: Neal on February 23, 2007 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Remember, the Persians invented chess, so they know what they are doing. They would be quick to take advantage if we made a wrong move.

More coffe, Al. "The Persians" is supposed to mean Iran.

Even aside from that, this post is clearly from one the stupider Als.

Posted by: dj moonbat on February 23, 2007 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

America invented explosive nukes, so we should know what we're doing pretty soon.

I want to believe that the Bushies DO have some gambit in the works with Syria, and we don't want Israel upsetting our applecart.

(why apples? Any kumquat deliveries brewing?)

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on February 23, 2007 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe Haaretz misreported them. I was sure it was herrings, not apples.

Posted by: azizhp on February 23, 2007 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Well, It's like Dick Cheney said, "All options are on the table."

Well, all options except negotiations. Of course, without negotiating, what options are there, and how can they be achieved without negotiation?

Posted by: Joe Student on February 23, 2007 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

If Israel wanted talks they would conduct them. As near as I can tell, they always blame the lack of substantiative peace talks on someone else. The US scapegoat is a new one, but I guess Arafat is dead and Bush makes a good boogie man just about everywhere.

Haaretz also reports that 10,000 tons of apples will be delivered to Syria from the Golan Heights.

That's the same number sold last year (or year old news):

http://www.allbusiness.com/middle-east/israel/873898-1.html

Apparently Israeli apple growers have lost a big part of their market in the occupied territories due to closed checkpoints. They're dumping the apples through the UN to Syrian businessmen to Gulf States.

Posted by: B on February 23, 2007 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

In Kennedy's inaugural address, he said " Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate." Bush seems to have turned this around.

Posted by: Fred on February 23, 2007 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

So, a peace treaty between Israel and Syria, its only hostile neighbor and a key sponsor of Hezbollah, would be a "knight"? Good god, people!

Remember all the way back to, oh, I don't know, 2003, when the road to peace in Jeruselem was through Bahgdad? Yeah, I thought so. Now, apparently, it runs through Persia, because that's where all the good chess players are.

Who will free us from these nitwits?

Posted by: Jeff S. on February 23, 2007 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

Oh my God Al you are dumber than a post. "The Persians invented chess, so let's all have a circle jerk rather than talk to them." As I said previously, we negotiated a constitution with evil bastards who tore our country in half over their sacred right to own other people, and kept negotiating with them for another century while they denied a third of their population basic civil rights. If we can negotiate with them, we can negotiate with Iranians. Doing any less is pernicious, arrogant, counterproductive, and just plain stupid.

Posted by: dcbob on February 23, 2007 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Obviously, the Syrians have learned nothing from Kim Jong-il. George sure showed him not to mess around with the United States!

Posted by: josef on February 23, 2007 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Jeff S. asks: Who will free us from these nitwits?

Operation Yellow Elephant.

Posted by: dj moonbat on February 23, 2007 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter Bush Admin:
"We take ze money Lebowski!"

Posted by: kenga on February 23, 2007 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Why is it that everyone in the Bush administration fears that ANY action that might, in some strange way, appear as a "weakness" must be avoided at all costs?

Wouldn't it be a lot easier and cheaper if they just stuffed socks in their crotches or bought a Ferrari or two?

Posted by: Ranger Jay on February 23, 2007 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Hiya, Moonbat! How the hell are ya? OYE is one of those sites I have blogrolled that I should visit more often. As well as The Left Coaster. I really should visit y'all more often. For those who don't know, TLC is doing some really good work. :)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on February 23, 2007 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

I've been finding that the administration treats everything with a junior high school mentality.

Georgie had decided that he's not talking to Bashar for whatever petulant reason, so he doesn't want anybody talking to Bashar either, especially not Ehud, who's supposed to be his friend. That Ehud lives next door to Bashar doesn't matter; in fact, it makes it worse, because if Ehud was a real friend he'd stick with Georgie no matter what, just because that's what friends do, and Bashar is just a jerk, ya know? Ehud should just ignore Bashar, no matter what, not saying 'hey' over the fence!

Posted by: biggerbox on February 23, 2007 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Kindasleazy Rice, Bush and Cheney are frigging insane. They need to be removed from office and brought to justice as soon as is humanly possible!

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on February 23, 2007 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Who will free us from these nitwits?
Regime change begins at home . . .

Posted by: Dan S. on February 23, 2007 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

You know, talking to people doesn't just show everyone how weak you are—it also requires you to talk!
If they really engaged the world, the Bushies would be required to articulate their policies and then it would become clear that they have command over neither the English language nor American foreign policy.

So much easier to puff out their chests and scream.
And then there's Condi: A high-school principal suddenly put in charge of a nuclear submarine.
Worst. SecState. Ever!

Posted by: Kenji on February 23, 2007 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

It’s the Paris Hilton foreign policy: “We’re not talking to Syria – they know what they did.”

Posted by: fafner1 on February 23, 2007 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, if we were to talk, the Syrians could bring up their refugee problem that Bush caused. Lately, Syria has had to stop admitting Iraqis because they can't handle the influx
I could see the Syrians demanding economic aid for this catastrophe and the Bush regime losing points internationally when they denied it. I also remember when, after Colin Powell's presentation of false information to the UN, the Syrian ambassador spoke and refuted all Powell's data. Cheney hates being called out on his lies. Just ask Joe Wilson.
Remember when adults were in charge of American foreign policy? America's standing internationally was at its highest. Now, with Rice Bush and Cheney throwing hissy fits, we are at our lowest.

Posted by: Mike on February 23, 2007 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

dj moonbat:

Swell idea! Unfortunately, Operation Yellow Elephant hasn't had a single success to date. I wonder why?

Dan S.

Heh. Indeed.

Posted by: Jeff S. on February 23, 2007 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

So now it's f**k Syria after the country provided (es?) an extraordinary rendition destination (Hotel Torture), enhanced interrogation professionals courtesy of the Syrian secret service, Al - Mukhabarat(aka Damascus Steel) and recently convicted an al Qaida suspect, who "renditioned" into the hands of its world-renowned court system?

Posted by: tec19 on February 23, 2007 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

Better to send apples than Rice.

Posted by: stonevendor on February 23, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

In the hawk worldview, I thought the object of threatening the use of force was to bring recalcitrant nations to the bargaining table. That is, to use sticks or the threat of sticks rather than carrots (which, presumably, are the enticement of choice for wimpy liberals).

Yet, both Iran and Syria are indicating their willingness to talk. So, has the object of the threat not been at least somewhat accomplished? (To be sure, as Kevin said, Syria and Iran may not enter into the talks in good faith, but we can't know that prior to sitting down.)

It is beginning increasingly to look like the Bush administration believes in the threat and use of force for no other reason than force itself. Or, perhaps more charitably, that the administration is not threatening force to accomplish an objective, but the administration desires to actually use force--and nothing short of the use of force--to accomplish their objective even if it could be accomplished by other means.

This is a truly bizarre policy.

Posted by: JRP on February 23, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

Al made me laugh, again.

"our President's grand strategy" HA HA hahahahah HA HA HA.

Posted by: Cal Gal on February 23, 2007 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Fitzgerald: "There is a cloud over Dick Cheney"

Fitz, as in Patrick Fitzgerald, recently finished making a case against Dick Cheneys Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby for lying and obstructing justice in the governments investigation of who leaked the classified identity of a CIA NOC, Valarie Plame.

It seems, from evidence presented at trial, that the who that leaked is Scooter Libby under the direction of Dick Cheney but Fitz cant prove it yet because Libby is lying to protect the guilty parties.

In Fitzs closing argument he explained There is a cloud over Dick Cheney. Fitz has enough goods to question Cheneys actions in this public forum. THAT is NEWS.

If that son of bitch, Cheney, leaked classified info about a CIA NOC as an act of political retribution toward the CIA agents husband, Cheney must be impeached.

Fitz! is the supportive cry for the principled prosecutor who doggedly pursued the case, in spite of all the right wing propoganda that would have him quietly walk away. Fitz is a rather conservative guy but he believes in the rule of law not partisan favoritism and cronyism.

Posted by: Neil on February 23, 2007 at 11:48 PM | PERMALINK

Many of us used to think of Con-di as a bumbling but relatively (per the Admin.) well-meaning functionary. Now it seems she is a Cheney-esqe Svengali/Machiavelli. (Also, she encouraged Maliki to go ahead and execute Saddam on Eid.)

Posted by: Neil B. on February 24, 2007 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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