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Sens. John Kerry and Chuck Hagel: It's Time to Talk to Syria [View All]

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jun-05-08 04:58 PM
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Sens. John Kerry and Chuck Hagel: It's Time to Talk to Syria
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It's Time to Talk to Syria
By JOHN KERRY and CHUCK HAGEL
June 5, 2008; Page A19


After Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1991, President George H.W. Bush did the improbable and convinced Syrian President Hafez Assad to join an American-led coalition against a fellow Baathist regime.

Today, these leaders' sons have another chance for a diplomatic breakthrough that could redefine the strategic landscape in the Middle East.

The recent announcement of peace negotiations between Israel and Syria through Turkey, and the agreement between the Lebanese factions in Qatar both apparently without meaningful U.S. involvement should serve as a wake-up call that our policy of nonengagement has isolated us more than the Syrians. These developments also help create new opportunities and increased leverage that we can only exploit through substantive dialogue with Syria.

Syria's leaders have always made cold calculations in the name of self-preservation, and history shows that intensive diplomacy can pay off. Secretary of State James Baker made more than a dozen trips to Syria before Operation Desert Storm, and remember President Assad's price: U.S. support for Syrian dialogue with Israel. The ultimate challenge moving Syria away from its marriage of convenience with Iran will certainly not happen overnight. But it's telling that Iran lobbied Syria not to negotiate with Israel and that Syria decided to proceed regardless.

To support Israel and isolate Iran, President George W. Bush should offer direct support for the Israeli-Syrian initiative. Promoting peace between our ally and its neighbors has always been a bipartisan cornerstone of our foreign policy. Syria views peace talks with Israel as part of a broader rapprochement with America, and its strong desire for U.S. involvement can work to our advantage. We know that high level, direct talks will require a sustained and credible American role, just as they did in 2000, when President Bill Clinton met repeatedly with Mr. Assad in bringing Syria and Israel to the brink of a deal. With so much at stake, it's in our interests to come to the table again.

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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121262346490946859.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries
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