Commentary Magazine


Contentions

How’s Syrian Engagement Going?

No matter how many trips John Kerry makes to Syria (could it be because he makes so many trips?), we haven’t been able to extract a smidgen of cooperation from the Syrian despot or weaken the bond between Iran and Syria. Here’s the latest:

Syria defied Western pressure on Sunday over its support for the militant group Hezbollah and said it would not act as a policeman for Israel to prevent weapons from reaching the Lebanese Shi’ite movement.

“Did Israel ever stop arming itself, did it stop instigating violence or making military maneuvers,” Foreign Minister Walid Moallem said after meeting his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle. “Why are arms forbidden to Arabs and allowed to Israel?”

The answer is because Israel is a democracy that does not foment terrorism, saddle up to aggressive regimes, or brutalize its own people. But that’s not the sort of  answer any U.S. official is going to give these days. And it is further evidence that engagement has given the Syrians not pause but encouragement to defy the U.S. We are perceived as weak, desperate, unreliable, and in retreat in the region.

It seems that no amount of evidence — not defiance by Syria in this latest incident, not Scud sales, not chummy press conferences with Assad and Ahmadinejad in perfect harmony, not the continued trampling of human rights — will convince the Obama brain trust that our current policy is horribly misguided. They have their own game plan, and they aren’t about to let reality get in the way.