Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Engagement "Myth"

Today's reading assignment, from Joel Himelfarb of the Washington Times, at Opinion He reminds us that successive U.S. administrations have "engaged" both Syria and Iran since the late 1970s, without much success. In fact, Damascus and Tehran have often responded to American overtures with actions that undercut our interests in the region.

Cases in point: Syrian complicity in the 1982 assassination of Lebanese leader Pierre Gemayel (which followed intensive U.S. diplomacy aimed at ending that country's civil war), and the 1979 seizure of our embassy in Tehran, which followed talks in Algiers between National Security Advisor Zbignew Brzezinski and Iranian Prime Minister Mehdi Barzagan.

Mr. Himelbarb's last paragraph sums it up nicely:

"Based on the historical record, the advocates of U.S. engagement with these regimes are delusional. The record, from Carter to Bush II, strongly suggests that neither regime has any interest in cooperating with us in Iraq, and are more likely than not to view the Carter-Brzezinski-Hagel approach as a demonstration of American weakness."

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