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Syriana

According to Haaretz:  The Bush administration has given Israel permission to discuss the future of the Golan Heights, security arrangements and Israeli-Syrian peace accords if it agrees to talks with Syria. However, Washington has stipulated that Israel must not agree … Read More

By / May 21, 2007

According to Haaretz

The Bush administration has given Israel permission to discuss the future of the Golan Heights, security arrangements and Israeli-Syrian peace accords if it agrees to talks with Syria. However, Washington has stipulated that Israel must not agree to any negotiations, even indirectly, on the United States' position, or on the future of Lebanon. Furthermore, Israel must not make promises to Syria regarding U.S. policy. According to the new position, Washington will deal directly with Syria on these matters.

Cue sniggers from Matt Yglesias: "[I]f I were an Israeli and I woke up to read in my morning paper…that my government was getting "permission" from the United States to conduct diplomacy with an adjacent country I might worry that something had gone awry in the US-Israeli special friendship." 

Is it not clear from the last two paragraphs in the above extract that "permission" is actually a warning to Israel not to presume to negotiate with the imprimatur of the United States?  Why might that be?  Because Bashar al-Assad is still suborning jihadists in Iraq and thus responsible for the death of countless American soliders; because he still must answer for the assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005 and Pierre Gemayel in 2006; and because Washington has rightly declared solidarity with the Siniora government, which is now being targeted for destruction by both Hezbollah and Al Qaeda.

Cheap points can be scored on almost any day of the week against a Tweedledum/Tweedledee arrangement that supposedly exists between the U.S. and Israel. But it's worth keeping in mind that the Israeli government turned against the war in Iraq long before the American public did; and that when it comes to protecting joint U.S.-Iraqi interests in the Middle East, well, there's a new "special relationship," both more exigent and more threatened, that has assumed centerstage.

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