Political solutions are not properly presented on a dingy platter of empty diplomacy, especially when a reluctant administration only presents a pissed-on tray covered with the paper doily of dogmatic idealism.
It is true the al-Assad is more bitter enemy than best friend, and not undeservingly so. His interests and ours nearly always diverge. Yet Syria must be engaged in dialog, not in spite of its roles in Lebanon and Iraq, but because of them. This is not some banana republic-like "rogue" regime. The Assads have run Syria for decades. You'd have to be smoking some pretty cosmic Lebanese hash to think they are going anywhere.
Any diplomatic engagement must be viewed as a positive step. It's "a more practical approach," Ziad Haider, a Lebanese journalist, told the New York Times. Practical, he says, because it represents change, the prospect of a US foreign policy not "based on demands and ideology."
So thank you, Ms. Pelosi. It is a shame that the 2008 presidential candidates appear to be afraid to take the stand that you have taken here. I hope that in twenty months, when - God willing - we get back in the White House, we will be presenting attractive options to all the players in this seemingly intractable region.
Those who advocate the current paradigm of the silent treatment think that other countries quake to find themselves on our shit list. It's obvious to me that this policy prolongs distrust and potentially breeds more anger and resentment toward the United States, when we should be looking for ways to mitigate their powerful hatred. But more than resentment, I think they and the rest of the world are disappointed in the misguided policies we have allowed our government to pursue in our name. I know I am.
It is time to clean the idealistic crud from the diplomatic tray. I don't know what morsels of the diplomacy we proffer to the Syrians or Iranians they will find to their liking. What I do understand is that our commitment will be much better demonstrated by offers presented respectfully, on a gleaming silver tray, than by Bush's ridiculously parental tone in threatening to use the platter as a blunt object on our enemies' backsides. That's no offer at all.
If your cause is peace, your dogma must be dialog.