The trouble with policy wonks is that they think everybody is as knowledgeable and logical as they are despite all compelling evidence to the contrary. Eric Martin riffs on a Josh Landis piece about the “meeting” between the fabulous NeoCondi and Syrian foreign minister Walid Moualem in an attempt to analyze what might be going on.
The recent diplomatic thaw between the US and Syria may be a manifestation of a nascent strategy to de-link Syria from Iran (which would then, presumably, make it easier to isolate Hezbollah in Lebanon by eliminating Iran’s middleman). This reading is not made any less credible by the obvious empowerment of Iran in the region, and the perceived need to assemble and fortify an effective counterbalance. The question remains, however, what would the US offer Syria in return for its cooperation? The return of the Golan Heights, and the killing of the tribunal investigating Syria’s role in the Hariri assassination, are the two most obvious Syrian objectives.
This is all nonsense. There is no “thaw”, the US has no intention of offering Syria anything for their “co-operation” except calling off its potential invasion – maybe (there are three carrier groups off the Iranian coast, a stone’s throw from Syria) – and no one in the Bush Admin understands the concept of “counterbalance”, let alone is looking for a way to achieve it.
Landis isn’t much better, though he does at least hint that Condi offered, in fact, nothing, and quotes Iran’s foreign minister to that effect.
Mottaki was more honest. He explained that the US needs Iran more than Iran needs the US. The US had not prepared for the meeting properly and was not willing to discuss the an agenda important to Iran, comsequently Iran passed up the chance to talk to the Americans at the ministerial level.
Of course we hadn’t “prepared properly”. Since when has the fabulous NeoCondi prepared for anything properly?
Look, at some point it would be helpful if we stopped talking about these people as if they were sentient, rational human beings with knowledge, goals, and strategies for how to attain them. They are none of the three. They are not-very-bright ideologues who feature a deep-seated disdain for most foreigners and a heavy penchant for throwing their weight around. They know how to bully, they know how to threaten, and that pretty much exhausts a list of their negotiating tactics.