Every once in a while you can read something in a major newspaper that is not drivel. David Ignatius takes a look at the recent talks between Israel and Syria and concludes there may be some there there.
What's going on between Syria and Israel? Are the indirect peace negotiations through Turkish mediators that were announced last month for real? I've been talking with sources on all sides, and they present an upbeat view of a peace process that has taken many people (including top Bush administration officials) by surprise.
As with any secret diplomatic initiative, this one is surrounded by mysteries and riddles. So I'll examine the Syria-Israel dialogue as a series of puzzles and offer my best guesses about what's happening:
(1) How did these negotiations begin?
The channel opened in the fall of 2006, just after the summer war in Lebanon that had made both Damascus and Tel Aviv nervous about the destabilizing role of Hezbollah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon. Syria proposed indirect "proximity" talks and insisted on Turkey, a rare friend of both countries, as intermediary.
I am a firm believer that you must take advantage of opportunities to disarm your enemies. This involves negotiations, talk, diplomacy all that. Unlike the Obama, I would have my gun out under the table and would apply a whole lot of that "trust, but verify" stuff, but talk I definitely would. In this case the Israelis have a chance to peel Syria away from Iran and toward Turkey, that would be a huge gain for the region. And in a perfect representation of my iron fist in a velvet glove, the Syrians come to the table less than a year after the Israelis punched them dead in the mouth, taking out their nuke plant.
The problem the left has is they believe they can simply talk their way through problems with the evil tyrants around the world like they were in group therapy. "Can't everyone, just take a few prozac and chill out?" Sorry kids but as I have said before, without the credible threat of violence diplomacy is just formalized lying in formal wear.