On Syria: A Question for Barack and Hillary

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syria_map.gif
George W. Bush certainly seems like he likes to strangle things. He’s been trying to strangle Cuba and Cuban-American families with tightened restrictions on family-related travel to emphasize how much every President of the United States since Eisenhower has tried (and failed) to undermine Fidel Castro’s government.
Now, Bush yesterday started to strangle Syria more tightly. Arguing that Syria is not doing enough to stop the movement of terrorists between Iraq and Syria, Bush issued an Executive Order increasing the number of Syrian officials whose financial assets can be held.
So — someone on the press beat with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, ask these two presidential hopefuls if they agree with the President’s action against Syria or not? If so, why? If not, what reasons would they as President use to undo our counter this action.
I’ll give you my answer. Bush’s move is reckless — and threatens to add further stress to a region that is wondering whether Bush’s initiative to achieve some kind of Israel/Palestine deal is real or contrived.
Syria must be a party to any arrangement with the broader Arab world — and thus far, Syria has been on the whole reasonably behaved with regard to Israel. When Israel attacked some warehouses that Seymour Hersh argues were not nuclear weapons related, Syria restrained itself from attacking back and did not unleash agents into Israel to create domestic strife.
But beyond that, I have no idea if terrorists are really moving between Iraq and Syria or not — but I do know that the Syrian government itself sees zero benefit to hosting insurgents or Islamic radicals in its country. The Syrian government is as worried about the impact of anti-government Islamist militancy within its borders as Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf states.
What I do know is that Syria is hosting more than 1.2 million refugees from Iraq and that the United Nations and Europe have been applauding and publicly commending Syria and Jordan, which has another million. This refugee problem is a function of the American invasion, and it’s simply outrageous that the United States would move to further punish Syria when it is carrying much of the load for our Middle East actions.
I really want to hear what Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would do in this case.

— Steve Clemons

Comments

52 comments on “On Syria: A Question for Barack and Hillary

  1. Mousa says:

    How long have the Syrians to wait to get Golan-
    heights complete back? The equation is clear: Golan
    heights back = peace.

    Reply

  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Thanks Don, for expending the time. I was just gonna call him a dissembling jackass, and move on.

    Reply

  3. DonS says:

    Dude: response to your comment point by point (my comments are in caps), from an average American guy who is hip to necons:
    “1. There’s a difference between scurrying for cover and leaving such highly emotional responses from those above (I’ll cite you POA since you were most recent) untouched, because clearly certain minds on this blog are convinced that the ME should be left alone to implode. Or perhaps it would be better if it exploded and shattered the world order with another Madrid, London or US attack. Would that convince any of you that intervention from the worlds only superpower is necessary? I’m not saying, by the way, that we got it right in Iraq; we screwed the pooch mightily on that one and will pay in dollars and blood for many years.”
    BASICALLY SAYS NOTHING
    “But the Iraqi people will see a better world, and sooner than had we left Saddam and his sons to their fiendish machinations.”
    BASICALLY SAYS NOTHING. OPINION ONLY. NO MEASURABLE METRICS EVEN SUGGESTED.
    “2. In my opinion, one of our greatest responsibilities as the US is to set a standard with our democratic processes. That’s not to say we have the best model or practices (better than most though), but I’ll take Cindy Sheehan (as irritating as she was) on the Crawford ranch voicing her disapproval over ex-PM Harriri being blown to purgatory in a 60 ft crater for similar political actions.”
    GRATUITOUS “ATTABOY” TO INGRATIATE.
    “3. I read a lot above about ME extremism, but look over the responses, and you’ll see a lot of tone suggesting extremist positions.”
    EXTREMISM IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER. IF NOT DELINIATED,IT IS MERELY AN UNSUBSTANTIATED ACCUSATION.
    “And while it is unnerving to read from so many Americans the kind of isolationist rhetoric that we cannot afford to endure any longer (globalization draws ever nearer), it is still amazing to me that if we transposed this blog and its comments to one of the autocratic ME regimes, most of us would have disappeared by now. That’s how they do things over there, sort of like the Middle Ages in Europe. It makes me appreciate my freedoms even more.”
    THE CHARGE OF ISOLATIONISM IS ARCHAIC. WE ARE IN A POSTMODERN –- ALBEIT NOT POST NEOCON –- WORLD. GLOBALIZATION IS A REALITY ACKNOWLEDGED BY MOST ON THIS BOARD. TO CALL A RATIONAL U.S.-CENTRIC FOREIGN POLICY, AT LEAST WHEN IT COMES TO CHALLENGING NEOCON INSPIRED MEDDLING IN THE ME, AS ISOLATIONIST, IS SIMPY REVEALING ONE’S OWN LACK OF SENSE AND OBJECTIVITY, AT BEST.
    “4. If any of you have ever worked towards an end that is from the start doomed to be manipulated by the powers that matter (like for instance setting up political organizations for Syrian expats outside Syria in order to gain a foothold with the moderate Syrian demographic and instill internal change, while flirting with the US to gain some sort of backing), then you’d understand that sometimes the end justifies the means. Our government here certainly understood that when Bin Laden and the Afghans were armed to disrupt Communist Russia, and Saddam placed in Iraq to quell the Iran situation. In real life (outside the cozy blogopshere), decisions like those are extremely difficult to make and almost always turn out differently than expected. Global politicking is complicated. We ended the Cold War only to find a small group of Muslims equipped with the knowledge, hatred and skill to take on the West head-on (1993 and 2001 are forever burned into my memory). We pacified (somewhat) the Iran debacle only to find a Baathist regime in Iraq (supported in full by a Baathist regime in Syria led by Hafez Assad) murdering its own population on a daily basis. Anyone here remember what happened in ’82 at Hama? A town voiced its disapproval of the government and was wiped out by Senior Assad
    A COMPELLING NARATIVE, ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE A SYRIAN. BUT U.S. INTERVENTIONIST TENDENCIES LIKELY DID MORE TO AGGRAVATE 9/11 THAN NOT. YOU ALSO NEGLECT THE COUNTERPRODUCTIVE ROLE THE US PLAYED IN, TOO OFTEN, BETTING ON THE WRONG SIDE, TURNING A BLIND EYE TO ‘ATROCITIES’ WHEN IT SUITED. THEY JUST HAPPENDED TO BE AGAINST THE ENEMY DE JOUR.
    “. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that the US has an obligation as a global leader in economy, politics and defense/war to protect the international community.
    ITS YOU. THE U.S. DIDN’T DO A HELL OF A LOT AGAINST POL POT, IN RWANDA, TIBET . . . YOU NAME IT. ITS JUST YOUR OX THAT’S BEING GORED THIS TIME. THE U.S. AS WORLD’S POLICEMAN IS A TIRED CLICHE.
    “ Idealistic yes; and in practice so much more complex when considering the kind of administrations we’ve seen, and the power of interest groups, including the Jewish Lobby. But if it was easy, then we’d all be happier than a Nebraska corn farmer in the middle of an afternoon rain shower.
    ALLUDING TO THE “JEWISH LOBBY” IS A NICE TOUCH. FYI, JEWS ARE NOT THE SAME AS ISRAELIS. I’M SURE YOU KNOW THAT.
    “5. For any history buffs, the Crusades were a good lesson in what to expect from religious extremists. And those were Christians, brainwashed by the Papacy to believe that forgiveness and heaven were at the bloodied end of a sword. Sound familiar? It’s happening every day in the ME, except the Children’s Crusade in 1212 looks like a day at the fair. The longer the world waits for this to resolve itself, the worse it will get. Have you seen a suicide bomber cartoon before? It is one of the most depressing things I’ve ever watched, matched only by the look on the 4 year old faces as they cheer the “freedom fighters” on.
    YOU’RE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT ON. EXCEPT NONE OF THIS MAKES IT THE RESPONSIBILITY OR THE POSSIBILITY OF THE U.S. TO SOMEHOW FIND A WAY OUT OF THIS QUAGMIRE. IN FACT, OUR INVOLVEMENT IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE. ONLY THE NEOCONS MAKE A PROFIT.
    “6. Does anyone here really think that Syria has no interest in disrupting Lebanon? It’s a classic Statue of Liberty play. Hit Lebanon with intelligence agents and political assassinations, while working with Iraqi insurgents, Iranian military and Saudi money behind the scenes to plan a regional conflict from which a power vacuum may arise. Touchdown.
    SAY MORE.
    “Steve, thanks for the blog. Gives all of us the opportunity to voice our opinion and bolsters the notion of freedom we all take for granted. If I don’t respond to anyone who responds to me, well it’s because I have a life in the real world, and this small computer screen makes my eyes hurt. Cheers.
    WE ALL HAVE LIVES, DUDE.
    PEACE.

    Reply

  4. arthurdecco says:

    Thank you for your post, ArabAmericanDude. It’s always heartening to have the opinions I hold about my polar-opposite-opponents confirmed by their own testimony.

    Reply

  5. ... says:

    poa – i appreciated the fact they didn’t hide under another name… that shows some integrity…

    Reply

  6. ArabAmericanDude says:

    1. There’s a difference between scurrying for cover and leaving such highly emotional responses from those above (I’ll cite you POA since you were most recent) untouched, because clearly certain minds on this blog are convinced that the ME should be left alone to implode. Or perhaps it would be better if it exploded and shattered the world order with another Madrid, London or US attack. Would that convince any of you that intervention from the world’s only superpower is necessary? I’m not saying, by the way, that we got it right in Iraq; we screwed the pooch mightily on that one and will pay in dollars and blood for many years. But the Iraqi people will see a better world, and sooner than had we left Saddam and his sons to their fiendish machinations.
    2. In my opinion, one of our greatest responsibilities as the US is to set a standard with our democratic processes. That’s not to say we have the best model or practices (better than most though), but I’ll take Cindy Sheehan (as irritating as she was) on the Crawford ranch voicing her disapproval over ex-PM Harriri being blown to purgatory in a 60 ft crater for similar political actions.
    3. I read a lot above about ME extremism, but look over the responses, and you’ll see a lot of tone suggesting extremist positions. And while it is unnerving to read from so many Americans the kind of isolationist rhetoric that we cannot afford to endure any longer (globalization draws ever nearer), it is still amazing to me that if we transposed this blog and its comments to one of the autocratic ME regimes, most of us would have disappeared by now. That’s how they do things over there, sort of like the Middle Ages in Europe. It makes me appreciate my freedoms even more.
    4. If any of you have ever worked towards an end that is from the start doomed to be manipulated by the powers that matter (like for instance setting up political organizations for Syrian expats outside Syria in order to gain a foothold with the moderate Syrian demographic and instill internal change, while flirting with the US to gain some sort of backing), then you’d understand that sometimes the end justifies the means. Our government here certainly understood that when Bin Laden and the Afghans were armed to disrupt Communist Russia, and Saddam placed in Iraq to quell the Iran situation. In real life (outside the cozy blogopshere), decisions like those are extremely difficult to make and almost always turn out differently than expected. Global politicking is complicated. We ended the Cold War only to find a small group of Muslims equipped with the knowledge, hatred and skill to take on the West head-on (1993 and 2001 are forever burned into my memory). We pacified (somewhat) the Iran debacle only to find a Baathist regime in Iraq (supported in full by a Baathist regime in Syria led by Hafez Assad) murdering its own population on a daily basis. Anyone here remember what happened in ’82 at Hama? A town voiced its disapproval of the government and was wiped out by Senior Assad. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel that the US has an obligation as a global leader in economy, politics and defense/war to protect the international community. Idealistic yes; and in practice so much more complex when considering the kind of administrations we’ve seen, and the power of interest groups, including the Jewish Lobby. But if it was easy, then we’d all be happier than a Nebraska corn farmer in the middle of an afternoon rain shower.
    5. For any history buffs, the Crusades were a good lesson in what to expect from religious extremists. And those were Christians, brainwashed by the Papacy to believe that forgiveness and heaven were at the bloodied end of a sword. Sound familiar? It’s happening every day in the ME, except the Children’s Crusade in 1212 looks like a day at the fair. The longer the world waits for this to resolve itself, the worse it will get. Have you seen a suicide bomber cartoon before? It is one of the most depressing things I’ve ever watched, matched only by the look on the 4 year old faces as they cheer the “freedom fighters” on.
    6. Does anyone here really think that Syria has no interest in disrupting Lebanon? It’s a classic Statue of Liberty play. Hit Lebanon with intelligence agents and political assassinations, while working with Iraqi insurgents, Iranian military and Saudi money behind the scenes to plan a regional conflict from which a power vacuum may arise. Touchdown.
    Steve, thanks for the blog. Gives all of us the opportunity to voice our opinion and bolsters the notion of freedom we all take for granted. If I don’t respond to anyone who responds to me, well it’s because I have a life in the real world, and this small computer screen makes my eyes hurt. Cheers.

    Reply

  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gee, I figured that when I logged on this evening Farid and Eli would have, by now, supplied us with nice concise and articulate rebuttals, informing us how wrong we are to judge them so harshly.
    But nope, it seems they scurried for cover. Why doesn’t that suprise me?

    Reply

  8. Kathleen says:

    Wolf, wolf, wolf… oh, you heard that already? Shit, so maybe the same old Pavlovian conditioning won’t work this time? Not to worry… we can just push the 9/11 bottom, again. That’ll teach you not to cower on cue.
    But whatever you do, don’t be too scared to shop till you drop, guys, we need that economy goosed, pronto.

    Reply

  9. Carroll says:

    To Carroll
    Your way of life in this country is connected to the harboring of terrorists and stopping rogue regimes like Saddam’s and now Assad and Ahmadinajead. Did you know that by year 2035, there will be 100 million Muslims in Europe? All escaping oppression, the one you seem to think it is not your problem. Fighting oppression is fighting for a way of life, yours and ours.
    Posted by Farid Ghadry at February 14, 2008 08:29 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Let’s get one thing straight..your way of life is not our way of life. Our current adm’s way of life is not even the American way of life. Your “we want to be a democracy just like you” crap is tiresome. Do you see anyone here living in France so they can lobby the French to overturn Bush&Co.? Why are you here, why aren’t you in Syria fighting the good fight? You want democracy handed to you on a silver platter courtesy of someone else’s blood and money?
    If enough people in Syria wanted democracy they would have it by their “own” actions. In case you haven’t noticed US “installed” democracy doesn’t last very long in the ME or anywhere else.
    My ancestors died establishing this democracy I suggest you go home and be willing to do the same instead of mincing about here with your whines and platitudes.
    In fact to get rid of you and other assorted hyphen parasites we may have to throw another revolution.
    That’s a war I would be in favor of.

    Reply

  10. pauline says:

    Watch Keith Olbermann last night on the latest FISA “threat”?
    “If the President seems to be throwing the baby out with the bathwater, it means we can safely conclude…there is no baby.
    Because if there were, sir, now that you have vetoed an extension of this eavesdropping, if some terrorist attack were to follow…
    You would not merely be guilty of siding with the terrorists…
    You would not merely be guilty of prioritizing the telecoms over the people…
    You would not merely be guilty of stupidity…
    You would not merely be guilty of treason, sir…
    You would be personally, and eternally, responsible.
    And if there is one thing we know about you, Mr. Bush, one thing that you have proved time and time again…it is that you are never responsible.
    As recently ago as 2006, we spoke words like these with trepidation.
    The idea that even the most cynical and untrustworthy of politicians in our history — George W. Bush — would use the literal form of terrorism against his own people — was dangerous territory. It seemed to tempt fate, to heighten fear.
    We will not fear any longer.
    We will not fear the international terrorists — we will thwart them.
    We will not fear the recognition of the manipulation of our yearning for safety — we will call it what it is: terrorism.
    We will not fear identifying the vulgar hypocrites in our government — we will name them.
    And we will not fear George W. Bush.
    Nor will we fear because George W. Bush wants us to fear.”
    see —
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rycAyA-F9s

    Reply

  11. DonS says:

    I’ll venture that the voters have been telling Hillary and Barack its ok to act like normal people who don’t love the smell of napalm in the morning. Whether they feel like its safe to start acting that way I’m less sure. You never can tell when you’ve gotta strap on them shootin irons and smoke a few Islamofascits for the folks back home.
    What has become fairly ingrained is the ability to gin up fear, the normal reaction to which is belligerancy — or in the case of the dems, endorsing Bush’s belligerancy. In this I disagree with those, including FireDogLake and Keith Olbermann who think that we’ve turned a corner. I don’t believe the temporary hold on the FISA legislation is much of a victory for sanity. Hope I’m wrong.
    http://firedoglake.com/2008/02/15/calling-the-presidents-fisa-bluff/
    The past 6 years of having the neocons and the media screaming fear at us constantly has taken its toll on the American psyche (from what I observe around me). They sold it like Kelloggs sold Corn Flakes.
    One step at a time to drive these cur back down. As Joe Wilson said on the FDL book salon, the neocons have to be pursued after they go to ground, not relent when their not in power. Go after them, discredit them, prosecute them and, in his colorful terms, drive awooden stake through their evil hearts.
    What’s that about the conditions for evil to prevail; simpy for good men to do nothing.

    Reply

  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Enjoy your last few days in the sun under the friendly Bush regime, because your time is over and you are about to be moved into the shadows”
    Gads, Kervick, have you not been paying attention??? Hell, Hillary is right down these guys alley, and I suspect Obama has more than a few alms and gallons of American blood he’ll cede over to them as well.
    I wish I had your optimism, but I stopped eating Peyote quite a few years back.

    Reply

  13. Dan Kervick says:

    Eli Lake and Farid Ghadry,
    Most Americans have grown tired of your Middle East wet dreams, and are no longer interested in manufacturing regime change in every Middle East country not named “Israel.” The debacle in Iraq has helped create a set of circumstance in which even most of your usual American patsies now recognize we need improved relationships with Iran and Syria to help restore order to Iraq and the Persian Gulf. You have only yourselves to blame for helping to create a situation in which realistic national security professionals will no longer be able to afford to pursue your pet projects – not if they want to keep their jobs.
    And we’ve all become a bit more sophisticated in identifying front groups like Farid’s. We’re not going to be taken on another ride by another Chalabi. With any luck, this country will now begin to get a foreign policy that actually serves the material and security interests of the American people, and not the small minority of neoconservative agitators and propagandists like yourselves.
    Enjoy your last few days in the sun under the friendly Bush regime, because your time is over and you are about to be moved into the shadows.

    Reply

  14. ... says:

    very interesting to know what types read steves threads…. i admire the wolfs not dressing up in sheeps clothing… of course when they dress up in sheeps clothing, it is harder to tell just who they are.. one can usually figure it out via the content…

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Perle and Abramoff. Gee, what a glowing testament to Ghadry’s credibility.
    The truly amazing thing, as Arthur pointed out, that Ghadry would want the US to meddle in the affairs of his own country, after watching what we have done to Iraq. I guess Ghadry won’t be satisfied with anything less than raw sewage in the streets, and a lung full of DU dust for all his country’s children.
    Or perhaps Ghadry has a better plan to land himself on the throne in Syria? After all, the Syrians will greet us on the streets as liberators, right Farid?
    Hmmmm, seems I’ve heard that one before…

    Reply

  16. PissedOffAmerican says:

    But Mike Ledeen Trusts Them
    post from The Newshoggers on 01 September 2007
    06:48:00 PM. © The Newshoggers
    By Cernig
    More Iran-War agitprop, from NRO.
    Rev Guards Base Uncovered in Syria [Michael Ledeen]
    I’ve been saying for some time that Syria is an Iranian colony, and that the defense pact the two signed several months ago was a serious matter. Now the Reform Party of Syria, which I trust, has just sent out the following:
    New IRGC base near Homs
    RPS News ? The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an Iranian government terrorist organization, is managing a new training base near the city of Homs located west of Syria and less than 50 km from Lebanon. The base is off-limits but intelligence delivered to RPS indicate that there is no Syrian presence at the base, which makes it a fully operational foreign base and the first of its kind in the country.
    It is believed that the base is armed with the second generation of the Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM) with a range of 2,100km able to hit major metropolises in the Middle East including Israel.
    The Reform Party of Syria….
    The reason Ledeen trusts them is because they are a construct of the neocons, in their entirety. The leader of the RPS is Farid Ghadry. He came up on my radar back in April because he was being cited (at NRO) as a source for reports that Nancy Pelosi’s “meddling” in Israeli/Syrian diplomacy at Israel’s request had “damaged the dissident movement in Syria”. Gadry’s SourceWatch entry is long, but here are the highlights:
    Ghadry;
    Shared an office with Jack Abramoff. Member of AIPAC and the Committee on the Present Danger. Speaker at JINSA. Met Chalabi in Richard Perle’s living room. Friend of Elizabeth Cheney. Launched his party at a meeting of the American Enterprise Institute. And as one Syrian observer wrote “Unknown in Syria, hated by Syria’s liberals, won’t work with anyone but himself, hasn’t seen Syria since he was in short pants, loved by the State Department – does the name Ahmed Chalabi come to mind?”
    “Trust us, we’re the neocons.”
    Read The Full Article:
    http://cernigsnewshog.blogspot.com/2007/09/but-mike-ledeen-trusts-them.html

    Reply

  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Grooming the next Ahmad Chalabi
    Richard Perle is again propping up regime-toppling Mideast dissidents who lack credibility.
    By Alan Weisman
    November 28, 2007
    ON A COLD MORNING last winter, I arrived at the home of Richard Perle outside Washington for a scheduled interview. I was about 10 minutes early, so I chose to shiver a bit on the front porch. Perle, the point man for the neoconservatives’ drive for regime change throughout the Middle East, had agreed to spend time me with for a book I was writing about his life and times. Just then, the front door opened and out stepped Perle and a robust young man who was obviously in a hurry.
    “Oh, Alan,” Perle said with some surprise. “I’d like you to meet . . . ” But I already knew who his guest was.
    “Yes, sir,” I said, extending my hand. “I recognize you from your photographs.”
    My, my, I thought. Mr. Perle is at it again.
    The exiting guest was Farid Ghadry, an exiled Syrian dissident who, like Perle, believes it’s past time to replace Syrian dictator Bashar Assad. Ghadry, who heads a Washington-based group called the Syrian Reform Party, hopes to be the man in charge one day in Damascus. When I met him, he had already been granted audiences with David Wurmser, Vice President Dick Cheney’s top Middle East advisor and Perle protege, and with Cheney’s daughter, Elizabeth, who headed the State Department’s Iran-Syria desk from 2005 until last June. I asked Wurmser about Ghadry. Was he another Ahmad Chalabi, the checkered Iraqi exile whom the United States backed as a Saddam Hussein replacement in Iraq?
    “He’s not asking for money, and we’re not advocating money for him,” Wurmser told me. “As for him wanting power, sure, he probably has an agenda. But it doesn’t matter. This is where you go back to the Soviet Union, because it’s the same question that we always work with, from Lech Walesa to Vaclav Havel: ‘Did they have an understanding of the malady and danger posed by the totalitarian regime in their country?’ ”
    The scenario of the U.S. backing exiles to aid in “democratizing” Middle Eastern countries is so appealing to Perle, Wurmser and their like-minded friends that they continue to pursue it despite past failures. Perle, of course, was the most prominent and aggressive advocate of Chalabi, dubbed the “Jay Gatsby of Iraq” for his social life and financial scandals, as the leader of a new Iraq. That effort collapsed when the Iraqi people, finally given a chance to vote in January 2005, did not award Chalabi’s party a single seat in the new parliament.
    Perle insists that his man, who has a new job with the Baghdad government, was the victim of a smear campaign led by the State Department and the CIA. The Chalabi experience has not muted Perle’s unabashed affection for dissidents. “I think the best way to bring about regime change,” he told me, “is to help decent people who are powerless without outside help.”
    People such as 32-year-old Amir Abbas Fakhravar, an Iranian dissident now living in exile in the United States. In a 2006 Washington Post Op-Ed article, Perle promoted Fakhravar as a heroic and inspirational figure around whom oppressed Iranians could rally, if only he were given America’s support. Fakhravar is president of the Iran Enterprise Institute, which takes its name and some of its financial support from the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute, of which Perle is a resident fellow. In the coming weeks, Fakhravar will be speaking at a conference in Palm Beach, Fla., on the subject of regime change in Tehran, addressing the Heritage Foundation in Washington and then heading to Rome to deliver a lecture on “Democracy in the Islamic World.” Just recently, he was the honored guest at DePaul University’s “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week,” where he was introduced as “the hero of our age.”
    His story, as he and his supporters tell it, could be a Hollywood script. Young, handsome, bold Iranian student leads the oppressed and downtrodden against the crushing tyranny of the mullahs, rising up, a la “Les Miserables.” He stands atop the barricades during student protests in Iran in 1999 and is then imprisoned and tortured. He communicates with the West from Tehran’s maximum-security Evin prison via a cellphone and escapes to freedom, with a shoot-to-kill order hanging over his head.
    Unfortunately, Fakhravar’s detractors, including some Iranian dissidents and exiles, insist that his story might as well be a Hollywood script. In a report last November in Mother Jones, Laura Rozen interviewed Iranian dissidents and journalists who cast doubt on Fakhravar’s story. They claim, for example, that in their experience, political prisoners at Evin weren’t allowed to use cellphones to communicate with the outside world. And, they say, he did not so much escape from prison, he simply went AWOL while on a kind of furlough that prisoners could sometimes arrange. As for other harrowing details, in reality he took a regular flight to Dubai (where he was met by Perle). Most important, Rozen’s sources told her, Fakhravar was never a major figure in the student uprising of 1999.
    Writing in Progressive magazine, Muhammad Sahimi, a chemical engineering professor at USC, lists Fakhravar among the exiles who have no credibility in Iran: “They are not even known there.” Although Amnesty International lists Fakhravar among those tortured by the Tehran regime, it uses the word “reportedly” to describe his ordeal.
    Perle insists that Fakhravar is being smeared by forces opposed to aggressive regime change. But the fundamental problem for Perle and like-minded others is that the men they are supporting lack the stature of their successful and illustrious predecessors, the Walesas and Havels. In the first place, Walesa and Havel did not operate in exile; they remained in their countries despite repeated imprisonment, government pressure and threats. There was never any question that they were recognized as the real thing — opposition leaders — by the throngs in the shipyards of Gdansk and St. Wenceslas Square. They may have had personal as well as altruistic ambitions and motives, but they were nothing if not authentic.
    Which brings us back to America’s Middle East wannabe heroes. Take Ghadry, an American-educated Arab with a passion for technology start-ups as well as saving Syria. Unfortunately for Perle, Ghadry is seen in many quarters as a front man for Israel. Not only is he a dues-paying member of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful Israeli lobby in Washington, but a recent column on his website, titled “Why I Admire Israel,” seems to play right into the hands of those who believe the Bush administration’s obsession with regime change in the Middle East is really all about protecting Israel. Did Perle, the savviest of Washington power players, believe that Ghadry’s tub-thumping for Tel Aviv would make him more popular in Syria?
    “No,” Perle replied. “I don’t. But he’s his own man. I don’t always understand what he’s doing and why he’s doing it.”
    So, in his quest for idealistic dissidents to do in the Middle East what the Walesas and Havels achieved in Eastern Europe, Perle and his acolytes have tapped the discredited Ahmad Chalabi for Iraq, the suspect Amir Abbas Fakhravar for Iran and the allegiance-challenged Fahrid Ghadry for Syria. They’re just not making heroes like they used to.
    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-weisman28nov28,0,102455.story?coll=la-opinion-rightrail

    Reply

  18. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Your way of life in this country is connected to the harboring of terrorists and stopping rogue regimes like Saddam’s and now Assad and Ahmadinajead.”
    Gee, I feel so much safer since Bush toppled Saddam’s “rogue” regime.
    When are you people going to stop peddling this bullshit, Farid?
    Would that be the “rogue regime” that this satanical ass Cheney and his scumsuckin’ comrad Rumsfeld armed with bio and chemical weaponry so they could use them against the Iranians?? Would this be the “rogue regime” that refused to tolerate or harbor Islamic radicalism? How “oppressed” do you think the Iraqi people felt pre 1991, before we gave Saddam a wink and a nod to go into Kuwait? How “oppressed” do you think they feel now, with this fucking castle of an embassy going up as a symbol of our no end in sight occupation?
    I’m with Carroll. Take your snake oil back to Syria, will you? Offer your own children, and your own treasure, to the slaughter Gods. I’m sick of funneling my hard earned tax dollars into your centuries old hatreds and feuds, and watching my nation’s children die at your behest. Fight your own God damned battles and wars, and leave us out of it.

    Reply

  19. NHQ says:

    “. . . harboring of terrorists . . . rogue regimes . . .100 million Muslims . . . fighting for a way of life, yours and ours. ”
    Too many messages invoking fear for me to assimilate. But Bush would surely approve. Cut him a check.
    OK, time out. Enough feeding the trolls.
    –Neocontroll HQ

    Reply

  20. arthurdecco says:

    All these posters claiming this and that about Syria.
    “They’re behind the assassinations in Lebanon.” (Care to offer any proof with that accusation? Can you even offer up a rationale why it would be in Syria’s interests to destabilize Lebanon by murdering their political opponents? Isn’t that Israel’s MO?)
    “They harbour terrorists.” (Uh huh – I’ve always believed one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.)
    “Syria promotes terrorism.” “ (Do you have a link to a believable source that supports your empty rhetoric? Supporting resistance movements focused on defending themselves from a shared, berserk enemy is NOT “promoting terrorism”? Dropping bombs on women and children IS.)
    Syria’s building an NUCLEAR BOMB!!!!!!!” (No, they’re not. Btw, did you know Israel has 200 of them? Nuclear bombs, I mean.)
    (Have you taken a peek over the border into Israel/Palestine lately? …Notice any war crimes, terrorism or flat-out murder going on anywhere? You know?…like in the IDF?…every single day?
    But this…oh my…Eli Lake’s first posted paragraph REALLY takes the cake: “First of all, the executive order against Syria “strangles” top regime apparats, who themselves “strangle,” I don’t know, Kurdish opposition figures, liberal newspaper editors, and anyone suspected of disloyalty in their police state. It is entirely different from an embargo.”
    And your post was entirely different from truth.
    You claim Syria’s leaders strangle Kurds, liberal newspaper editors and anyone suspected of disloyalty? Do you think us stupid?
    Liar.
    Disgusting Liar. Disgusting because what you’re trying to do with your lies is convince Americans to destroy Syria like Iraq has been destroyed, like Lebanon has been destroyed, like the Palestinians have been destroyed. Remember the stories that circulated about the Iraqis and those pathetic Kuwaiti incubator babies? You and your fellow travellers deal in the same quality of information. It probably all comes from the same place the baby stuff came from too, come to think of it.
    And as usual POA has nailed it AND you! “But there’s hope, for you’re protected by torturers, liars, warmongers, hatemongers, and AIPAC. God bless King Bush, and death to the ragheads.”
    What is WRONG with you shameless, lying people? What is so WRONG with you?

    Reply

  21. Farid Ghadry says:

    To Carroll
    Your way of life in this country is connected to the harboring of terrorists and stopping rogue regimes like Saddam’s and now Assad and Ahmadinajead. Did you know that by year 2035, there will be 100 million Muslims in Europe? All escaping oppression, the one you seem to think it is not your problem. Fighting oppression is fighting for a way of life, yours and ours.

    Reply

  22. digdug says:

    “Bush’s move is reckless”.
    Which of his moves hasn’t been reckless? Since the no-brainer of attacking Al Qaeda and their Taliban hosts immediately after 9/11, all of his moves have been reckless. Dangerously irresponsible and shortsighted. He (and his neocon ilk are the poster children for reckless and irresponsible).
    The refugee problem is really one of the ignored tragedies of our Iraq misadventure (our press is especially guilty here, as this is exactly the type of unexpected consequence they should be examining extensively). It is perhaps the preeminent example that the neoconservative agenda for remaking the Middle East was completely delusional and exhibited zero understanding of the realities of the region.

    Reply

  23. PissedOffAmerican says:

    BOO!!!!
    Boo, boo, and double BOO!!!!!
    Boo….boo….boo.
    Did I mention boo?
    Thats your lesson for the day kiddies. Now, run home and cower, the mean nasty terrists are gonna get you.
    But there’s hope, for you’re protected by torturers, liars, warmongers, hatemongers, and AIPAC. God bless King Bush, and death to the ragheads.

    Reply

  24. downtown says:

    Yes, you did say:
    “…so far does not create a dress code for Iran’s Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians – an echo of Nazi laws that required Jews, homosexuals, Gypsies, and communists to wear distinctive armbands and badges…”
    I thus stand corrected.
    As for Juan Cole, I think he’s been right on more issues than some of the people you make reference to on occasion. I recall one article you wrote mentioning Mr. Perle’s meetings with an Iranian dissident, appealing to the world to support Iranian freedom. Which is kind of ironic, considering the American contribution to one of the Middle East’s most seminal events – the CIA engineered overthrow of Mossadeq. But that’s a story for another thread.

    Reply

  25. Carroll says:

    Posted by Eli Lake at February 14, 2008 04:37 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Give it up Lake, we are all too familiar with you. But since you are here, here’s some good advice for you. Take your Chalabi clone buddy, Ghadry, and move to the ME. You to Israel and him to Syria. You can establish a chain of old folks home for neocons and email each other your plots instead of bothering us with them. We have seen them all already.
    At any rate we Americans are tired of exiles in waiting, hyphen-citizens, eager to be be rulers of their “former” homeland if only they can get the US to overthrow it for them, and foreign agents headquartering in the USA to crap in our yards, sleep with our prostitue politicans, steal our money, alienate us from our true friends and bray at your enemies from the saftey of our American yard like rabid chickens.
    Take your Israeli and neo “organizations”, your Freedom Watch, your Defense of Democracy, your Present Danger, your Free Iraq, your Free Iran and all your other assorted transparent crapola agenda orgs designed to suck out US money and might for your assorted tribes and true homelands and hit the road while you still have a head start.
    About RPS
    Written by Oubai Shahbandar
    Oct 14, 2006 at 06:16 AM
    Reform Party of Syria (RPS) is a US-based Syrian opposition party to the Assad regime that has emerged as a result of September 11.
    The party is governed by secular, peace committed American-Syrians, Euro-Syrians, and native Syrians who are determined to see that a “New Syria” is reborn that embraces real democratic and economic reforms
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Washington DC, September 7, 2007/RPS Press Release/ — The World Council of the Cedars Revolution (“WCCR”) and the Reform Party of Syria (“RPS”) condemn Representative Dennis Kucinich for his recent visit to Damascus and to Hezbollah controlled areas of Lebanon. Kucinich’s visit further strengthens the tyrannical rule of Bashar Assad and is aimed at returning the Syrian Army to Lebanon and further destabilizing the nascent Iraqi Democracy. Allowing Syria to serve as a peacekeeper in a regional multinational force would be akin to the fox guarding the hen house
    Biography of Farid Ghadry
    Written by Administrator
    Oct 26, 2006 at 12:57 AM
    As a native Syrian, an ex-Saudi Arabian, a reformist Sunni Muslim, and elected leader of the Reform Party of Syria, Farid Ghadry can speak about extreme Islam and terrorism from firsthand experience. His intimate knowledge of the people and the politics of the region have been gained through first hand experience.
    Mr. Ghadry was born in Aleppo in northern Syria and grew up between Aleppo, Damascus, Riyadh, and Beirut. He comes from a prominent Syrian family that included many politicians and civil servants.
    In 1982, Mr. Ghadry became a US citizen. Mr. Ghadry visited Dachau outside Munich at the age of 13 where he learned about the history of the Holocaust after being taught to hate Jews. Seeing Dachau was a life changing experience for him.
    At the age of 17, he was arrested by the Syrian intelligence in Zabadani, outside Damascus and imprisoned because he rebelled against the military police after an attempt to arrest him for civil disobedience. To this day, Mr. Ghadry is still pursued by the Syrian intelligence from this incident in 1971.
    At the age of 34, he was beaten with a cane by the Saudi religious police because he refused to pray in a Mosque in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
    All these experiences, and because of oppression in Arab countries, have given Mr. Ghadry the impetus to become more involved in changing the Middle East.
    His Vision for Syria
    Mr. Ghadry believes that Syria’s political system is a breeding ground for terrorism. Peaceful transition to democracy is the answer. Syria needs to strike peace with Israel supported fully by both the Syrian and the Israeli people. For Syria to succeed, it must become the beacon for tolerance and acceptance in the Arab world. Mr. Ghadry also champions economic and political reforms that can bring prosperity to offset against the rise of fanaticism and terrorism.
    His Vision for Reforming Islam
    Mr. Ghadry believes that because Damascus has a very important history as the capital of Sunni Islam, reformed Islam emanating from Damascus will have a great impact on the Levant region. Today, the most important three Islamic universities are educating extreme Islam to our youth. Mr. Ghadry advocates building an Islamic university in Damascus that can play an important role in easing the tensions between civilizations and providing young Muslims with an alternative interpretation of the Holy Koran; one that permits other religions to flourish side-by-side with Muslims.
    His Work
    Mr. Ghadry is a businessman. He has testified in the US Congress on extremism and freedom. He also spoke at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Johns Hopkins University (SAIS), Harvard University, University of Virginia, the European Parliament, the French Parliament, and the Belgian Senate. He is a member of the Committee on the Present Danger (www.fightingterror.org). He has written several articles and essays on Syria and the politics in the Levant. He is in the process of writing a book on Syria and his experiences as a political leader.
    Mr. Ghadry is married to Ahlam Ghadry (Druze – Lebanese). Together they have four children, Omar, Samer, Kristofer and Dahlia. He has served on several boards of companies and the Board of Trustees of Norwood School in Bethesda, MD. Ahlam is a Board Member of the Visiting Ladies at Children’s Hospital in Washington D.C.
    Articles
    “Why I Admire Israel”
    “Syria’s Terror Networks”
    “Islam is in Danger”
    “A Logical Imperative”
    “Israel Builds for Nobel Prizes, Arabs Destroy with Suicide Bombers”
    “Jihad and Ijtihad”
    “The Arab World is Abu Ghraib”
    Comments by Others
    “Farid Ghadry is a Syrian patriot, a defender of Arabs, and a proud Muslim. He wants the best for the peoples of the Middle East. He wants the people of the Middle East to live in freedom and democracy, with human rights guaranteed, and with abundant opportunity, hope and prosperity. For these reasons, he has been imprisoned in Lebanon by Syria, beaten in Saudi Arabia and denounced by the dictatorial regimes of many other countries. Those are all badges of honor for Mr. Ghadry, a brave and charismatic leader helping pave the way to a better future for a troubled region.”
    Clifford D. May, President, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
    “Gossip is he is the next president of Syria”
    John Loftus of the John Batchelor Talk Show on ABC Radio
    “Mr. Ghadry is one of the successful open minded businessmen the Arab world needs to help push forward the economic and political liberalization agenda, one of the most effective tools in fighting terrorism.
    ”Mouafac Harb, Executive Vice President of Middle East Television Network (Al-Hurra TV)
    “Farid Ghadry is a dedicated freedom fighter and a brave activist for democracy. Within the context of the modern Arab Middle East that makes him a revolutionary.
    “Peter Hannaford, Committee on the Present Danger
    1700 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. – Washington DC 20004 – USA
    Email: info@reformsyria.com
    1700 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. – Washington DC 20004 – USA
    Email: info@reformsyria.com
    1700 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. – Washington DC 20004 – USA
    Email: info@reformsyria.com

    Reply

  26. Eli Lake says:

    No, my anonymous friend. I wrote two articles about the incident. The first appearing on the web that broke the news that the sole Jewish representative in the Majlis had knocked down the story. The second based on an interview with the man who relayed this information, who said he believed the initial report was a trial balloon. Juan Cole speculated that the stories about his beloved Iranians were meant to be black propaganda. These are things he doesn’t know anything about, but this has never stopped him from cranking out amusing and outlandish commentary.

    Reply

  27. downtown says:

    Excuse me, but was not Mr. Lake one of the people who pushed the canard of Iranian Jews being forced to wear yellow stars? The NY SUN is a megaphone for Israel’s most right wing policies. Being a regular at “Atlas Shrugged” does not inspire much confidence. There is a plethora of information and articles available via simple Google search. Mr. Lake has been closely allied with people who have been so spectacularly wrong about Iraq.

    Reply

  28. Noah Pollak says:

    This has to be the most contrived post I’ve read in days. Eli covered the basics. I’ll add the following: You say that “Syria has been on the whole reasonably behaved with regard to Israel.” Syria hosts the headquarters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Damascus and uses its territory to transfer arms, money, and terrorists to Hezbollah, which in case you hadn’t heard is interested in annihilating the Jews. Syria is in partnership with Iran in spreading terrorism to every part of the region possible, and most certainly has much American blood on its hands in the form of being the the Grand Central Station for jihadists heading to Iraq.
    If this is good behavior, what would bad behavior look like?
    Contrived is actually the most polite thing I can say about this post.

    Reply

  29. karenk says:

    Thanks to … for the link. Now, how to get George Bush to check it out, considering he hates all that pesky readin’ stuff!!

    Reply

  30. NHQ says:

    ” . . .Why would you write about Syria’s steadfast opposition to Islamic militancy the day after Imadh Mugniyah’s body was found . . . .”
    Equally, why would Bush promulgate an executive order on the same date if not to manipulate opinion, particularly American opinion? Is Bush the sane one here???

    Reply

  31. Eli Lake says:

    This is, no offense, an insane thing to write. First of all, the executive order against Syria “strangles” top regime apparats, who themselves “strangle,” I don’t know, Kurdish opposition figures, liberal newspaper editors, and anyone suspected of disloyalty in their police state. It is entirely different from an embargo.
    Second. Why would you write about Syria’s steadfast opposition to Islamic militancy the day after Imadh Mugniyah’s body was found exploded in Damascus? Also, Syria has clearly had a hand in assassinating Lebanese politicians pushing for political independence, trying to win back through terror what lost in the 2005 Cedar revolution. For this, one would think people of conscience would be wary of “embracing” them. Finally, Syria has been forcing in some cases Iraqis to travel back to Iraq, the conditions of Iraqi refugees in Syria, according to the reports of people on the ground, are quite wretched. They did for years allow the facilitation of suicide bombers and other terrorists into Iraq.
    Engagement in and of itself is not good or bad. But sanctions aimed at a regime (not its people) that seeks to dominate its neighbor; hosts one of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists not to mention Khalled Meshall, and has brazenly tried to sabotage the government that replaced Saddam Hussein, well forgive if I don’t weep for the wives of the Baathist generals, whose bank accounts are frozen.

    Reply

  32. Ajaz says:

    Bush has never been serious about peace in the Middle East. If he has his way he would like start another war before his term ends.
    Instead of diplomacy and a peaceful settlement between Israelis & Palestinians, Syrians & Israelis and Lebanese & Israelis, Bush has always opted for agrression and that has made the prospect of a future settlement even more difficult. The recent Lebanon Israel war may have come to an end sooner had Bush/Condi/Cheney not insisted that Israel needs more time. More time for what, more deaths on both sides? Bush’s policy in the Mid East has been nothing but an unmitigated disaster.

    Reply

  33. JohnH says:

    I would like to hear what Hillary and Obama would do, too. However, I fully understand why their responses will likely be evasive. Realistically, any truly enlightened response would be met by a ferocious attack on the part of the entrenched foreign policy establishment, led by AIPAC, neocons and their megaphones, hired pens in the media. In a close race for the nomination, this wave of bad PR and rampant charges of ‘naivete’ could doom the candidacy of anyone enlightened enough to not tow the party line.
    Sadly, this is why candidates avoid specifics in general. Why risk ruining your career before you even get the power to make decisions like this?
    And it’s why the public is left unsatisfied, reading tea leaves from a candidate’s personal history and legislative track record instead of having real substance. And it’s why Hillary and Bill’s baggage weigh so heavily today, together with Hillary’s total absence of legislative accomplishment, which cast serious doubts about her “experience” and her claims to being able to get the job done on her own merits.

    Reply

  34. karenk says:

    My initial reaction to this was yes,GWB’s actions are reckless-the man has no sense of empathy and seems incapable of constructive diplomacy. Then I read the last entry- Farid’s and I’m reminded that, at the same time, the Assad regime should not be blindly trusted. Trust has to be built by talking with people negotiating step by step and seeing if bargians are kept. We need to remain on guard in our dealings with the Syrians, but we do in fact, need to deal with them. And in a far less, as was written here- “hamhanded” way.(I liked that one)

    Reply

  35. ... says:

    NHQ – more of the same stooges with the same agenda… good find..

    Reply

  36. NHQ says:

    Axe meet grinder.
    Funding source please.
    Home address: 1700 Pennsylvania Ave. Hmmmmm.

    Reply

  37. Farid Ghadry says:

    I was taken by surprise when I came upon your Blog. As a Syrian, I can tell you for a fact that Syria supports extremism and terrorism, which explains the reason this administration has been increasing the pressure against the Assad regime. The fact that Mughniyeh was killed in Syria makes your comments seem totally unrealistic. Do not let your judgment of one administration or another fog the ugly realities of the Assad regime. All things aside.

    Reply

  38. ... says:

    NHQ – it takes a lot to erase the brainwashing.. bushs latest move just reinforce it..

    Reply

  39. NHQ says:

    why is it some folks insist on being oh so punctilious about Syria’s faults and behaviors . . . as if the log in Bush’s/U.S. own eye is somehow irrelevant . . . when we discuss the mideast in a realistic context?
    Same old same old.
    — NEOCONTROLL HQ

    Reply

  40. retr2327 says:

    Well, I won’t claim to have any idea what the right answer is here, but if the question of Syria’s alleged good or bad behavior is going to be discussed, wouldn’t you have to include its alleged repeated involvement in assassinations inside Lebanon?

    Reply

  41. pauline says:

    Picture bush at a WH press podium looking so-oo-oo serious because right now the House hasn’t yet submitted to his fear tactics of what could happen to this great country if the House doesn’t bow down like the august body of senators and pass his FISA bill. (which grants immunity to bush, cheney and the telecoms who spied on innocent Americans with no court order.)
    “Things Will Be Fine”
    By Paul Kiel – February 14, 2008, 10:18AM
    The dreaded hour is nigh upon us!
    You heard President Bush yesterday, didn’t you? The “lives of countless Americans” are in the balance!
    That’s because this Saturday, the administration’s sweeping surveillance bill, the Protect America Act, lapses. Several American cities are sure to be in flames by Monday.
    That, at least, was the idea behind the administration’s vintage surveillance squeeze play. House Dems were supposed to be in such an alarmist tizzy that they’d have no choice but to accede to the Senate’s version of the surveillance bill. Faced with the terrible choice of exposing the American populace to imminent danger or simply letting a couple telcos off the hook for doing what the President told them to do, the choice was supposed to be clear. The failure of an effort to extend the law for 21 more days yesterday in the House should have closed the deal.
    But if more people start thinking like Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), maybe that won’t pan out. When the Protect America Act lapses and the old FISA law kicks back into effect, he says, we won’t be any more vulnerable. “Things will be fine.�
    Or, as The New York Times explains:
    The lapsing of the deadline would have little practical effect on intelligence gathering. Intelligence officials would be able to intercept communications from Qaeda members or other identified terrorist groups for a year after the initial eavesdropping authorization for that particular group.
    If a new terrorist group is identified after Saturday, intelligence officials would not be able to use the broadened eavesdropping authority. They would be able to seek a warrant under the more restrictive standards in place for three decades through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
    Apparently the necessary fear hasn’t quite set in. The Wall Street Journal reports that House and Senate negotiations “are expected to stretch past Saturday.” Don’t they know what’s at stake?
    from —
    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/02/things_will_be_fine.php#more

    Reply

  42. Robert M says:

    I think they need to stoop to Syria’s level. It can be done on the Iraqi border as over flights in pursuit of AQ.

    Reply

  43. jim miller says:

    Steve,
    jsonline.com has 10 approximately 4 minute videos up of their interview yesterday with Obama…granted these sessions do not contain repeated inquizative jabs, yet this format defintiely provides more policy fruit than a glitzy debate….
    with love from the heartland…..
    P.S. Also please note the pictures of the clinton schills braving the cold with their “we deserve debate signs….”

    Reply

  44. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Hillary…..”Let me check with Kohr on this, and I’ll get back to you.”
    Obama…….”I have great hope we can resolve this situation. And we can.”

    Reply

  45. Sheldon says:

    “The Syrian government sees zero benefit in hosting insurgents or radicals”? What do you mean?Mughniya, for one, was killed in Damascus. There are thousands like him there, are there not? Please explain.

    Reply

  46. DrDave says:

    Steve:
    We also know that Syria and Israel have been secretly negotiating–for years–to end their state of war and with it, Israel’s occupation of the Golan Heights. One has to wonder whether Bush’s ham-handed move here is being done in consideration of the negotiations or despite them.

    Reply

  47. Tom A says:

    Is it a realist move, a “neocon” move, or an electoral strategy to assist McCain by arousing public enmity at yet another perceived enemy to American-style democracy? It’s a real question which requires serious investigation. A realist move, as Steve points out, would recognize the role countries like Syria play in creating stability after the U.S. invasion of Iraq which might very well have destabilized the whole region.

    Reply

  48. Mr.Murder says:

    Divide and conquer.
    Isolate Syria.
    Neocon policy.
    If the policy for engagement and normalization is that important for Syria, why not more so Iran?
    IBM had its Asian regional HQ in Iran during the hostage crisis. Nary a stone was thrown their windows, or a flag burned on their sidewalk.
    Around the corner from the US embassy, no less.

    Reply

  49. DonS says:

    So Steve, is this exec order a bone head “neocon” move or a bone head “realist” move. Or is it just that Bush personally hasn’t swaggered enough lately?
    I wouldn’t expect Hillary or Barack to differentiate themselves. I’d be thrilled and surprised if they did.

    Reply

  50. john somer says:

    Steve, do you consider it normal that Syria has no embassy in Beirut and refuses to open one ? To me, it means that Syria does not recognize Lebanon as an independent and sovereign country

    Reply

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