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Thursday, May 20, 2010

What's behind the debate over a US ambassador to Syria

Here's an interesting comment from Michael Young about whether a US ambassador should be sent to Syria.
The points of view on both sides conceal a far more significant problem. Undue focus on whether an ambassador should be sent to Damascus or not is secondary to the fact that the Obama administration is not really clear about how to bring about a change in Syrian behavior where it has demanded such change – namely Syria’s ending its destabilization of Iraq, its support for Hamas and Hizbullah, and its efforts to reassert its hegemony over Lebanon.

Naming an ambassador should only be a means of advancing policy. But because the policy is unclear, the appointment process has taken center stage. For the State Department to defend an ambassador as necessary to get Assad’s ear is ridiculous. In itself, the transmission of messages is not, and should not be, what justifies a significant political reversal, especially when the previous ambassador was pulled because the US assumed that Syria had ordered the assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister.

On the other hand, the Republicans, by making Ford the issue, have also confused matters. The sanctions they are demanding may be justified, but sanctions, like the dispatching of an ambassador, do not in themselves constitute policy; they are instruments of policy. What the Republicans (and Democrats) should be asking of the Obama administration is whether its engagement strategy with Syria has any chance of succeeding – and if not what must be done to ensure it succeeds – and whether American strategy is cohesive, so that a dialogue with Syria does not actually give it wider latitude to pursue those very aims that Washington is seeking to undermine.
Young goes on to argue that what the Syrians want is to use Hezbullah to 'require' that the Syrians return to Lebanon. Read the whole thing.

Obama's 'engagement' with Syria has no chance of succeeding. And Syria doesn't need to take over Lebanon again because Hezbullah is representing its interests anyway. The US should not be sending an ambassador to Syria.


At 12:39 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

And such a reward for Syrian hostility to the US is exactly the opposite of the message the Obama Administration should be sending to Damascus.

Congress should put the nomination on ice.


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