Thursday, May 03, 2007

# Posted 11:04 AM by Taylor Owen  

WHY NOW?: I certainly think that US-Syria-Iran talks are a positive development, but I wonder what changed the administration's calculus on this? Either something has moved empirically, or this should have happened long ago. I'd be curious to know which it is. If the former, what changed? If the latter, why now and not far sooner?

(26) opinions -- Add your opinion

Could it simply be that Bush finally realizes he is out of other options?
I seem to recall reading somewhere on the net that it's because Condi Rice and Bob Gates hate America.
lol, I think I might have read that somewhere as well...
Condi Rice and Bob Gates hate America

Then take them off?

Is this can fix US administration saga
The problem with this administration is that they are too isolationist. If the condition the Middle East is in now will ever change, it will only come through negotiation and open communication. It’s about time that they try to communicate.

War is not the answer for terrorism; it is one of the reasons the terror exists. This war has cost over $340 billion to date and has accomplished little. According to the Borgen Project, it costs just $19 billion annually to end starvation and malnutrition or just $23 billion annually to reverse the spread of Malaria and AIDS. Wouldn’t aiding in the development of countries and ending poverty through the Millennium Development Goals be a better plan for attacking extremism?
According to the Borgen Project, it costs just $19 billion annually to end starvation and malnutrition or just $23 billion annually to reverse the spread of Malaria and AIDS.

I wish people would stop with this crap. In the last five decades, the West has spent $US2.3trillion in foreign aid (i.e. almost a fifth of the annual output of the US economy).

If it was just a matter of money, malnutrition, starvation, etc would have been fixed years ago.

If it was just a matter of money, so would the Iraq insurgency.
This war has cost over $340 billion to date

annak , with due respect with your view, I would add to you where is those billions goes to?

Is goes to salaries to your tropes?

Is goes salaries to those Think-Tank and all sort high level thinkers?

Is it goes to Sheik L. Paul Bremer III administration, where he were mismanaged that money, still 9Billions no records can be traced where that money gone?

Is that money Sheik Stuart W. Bowen Jr. mismanaged under his commands?

Is most of that money gone to those Military business groups who supply that very Smart Intelligent weaponry for the war of invasion and occupation of Iraq?

So if you look very close that money you put in your post went from Right Hand to Left Hand! It’s that simple?

If it was just a matter of money, so would the Iraq insurgency

It is a matter Lorezo, when those oil cartel looting the oil from Nigeria of other countries of those mining groups looting Copper Gold Uranium, diamonds fro those poor starving African countries and leave those living there dyeing of hunger and all sorts of illness and daisies due to bad or not infrastructures of health or educations in addition to those looter encouraging the corruptions in those countries as we seeing now in Iraq, isn’t?

Your agreement between money and Iraq insurgency just showing naivety.

God Bless

Taylor, what good do you think the talks could do? Are the two sides unaware of each other's positions? I don't know of anything we can offer those two governments besides putting a lid on the Hariri investigation for Syria and acquiescing to nuclear power in Iran. Is there something else we can offer, or do we offer those things?
I think I'm with bgates on this one.

As with Gulf War One, it would seem that achieving multilateralist 'stability' in the region might involve sacrificing Lebanese interests to Syria for the benefit of our own.
hey pat and bgates,
I don't think that one has to know the exact outcomes of a negotiation before they begin. that is the whole point of diplomacy and dispute resolution. no doubt they are challenging, but so is fighting an intractable counterinsurgency for the next decade or two. Iran is arguably more influential than the US in the ME at the moment, and are certainly going to be there for a lot longer, and Isreal wants to negotiate with Syria. i don't see the harm in speaking seriously, and at a high level, with either. In fact, I think not doing so is negligent.
I agree that there is no inherent problem in talks, but am just concerned at what we would be expected to give away. Historically, our engagement with Syria has at times involved some pretty unfortunate compromises...
ah, 'but historical determinism is soo 20th century', says the layperson to the uber-historian...
Taylor, we don't need to know exact outcomes, but we should have more than a vague idea of the starting point. My preferred position would be this: They'll stop killing us and our allies in Iraq, and we'll continue not firebombing military and infrastructure targets in Iran and Syria. I suspect that's not the kind of negotiation you have in mind.

If you ran the negotiations, what are some things you would be willing to offer, and what would be off-limits?
A commentator on another blog today wrote that we have to talk so both sides can have a win win situation.

I commented that we know,if we are to believe the people on the ground, that the Syrians and Iranians are aiding the ratbags (Isn't that so much more polite than getting into a shouting match about what to call these people.)

They do this openley with their parliamentarians and imams gloating over the results.

The Iranians have combat forces in Iraq.

Just where do you come to a win win situation when you talk. They laugh in your face (or turn the soles of their sandels towards you).

The big battle in the Muslim world is being conducted in the media and the media is mostly controlled by anti-democratic forces. All forms of negotiation are portrayed as weakness. The weaker we look the more Muslims move towards the other side. Not because they want to, but because they need to to survive.

Gaddafi, did not come out of the dessert because we talked. The muslim countries that took our side after 9/11 did not do so because we were nice. They did so because they feared the wrath of the mighty USA.
"War is not the answer for terrorism; it is one of the reasons the terror exists."

Then why did al-Qaeda attack the WTC in 1993?

Negotiations with Syria assume that the Syrian government can be reasoned with - and that it wants peace, which means that it can be talked into forever putting an end to this:


Is this a pipe dream, or is Syria really willing to switch sides in the War on Terror?
Honestly I don't really know. I don't really see what would be off the table from the onset though. Certainly coming into a negotiation with an unworkable base position (as was the case with the Iranian nuclear talks) is not viable. this is an interesting question though...
Anna K,

Your continual argument that Islamist terrorism happens because of poverty is not particularly persuasive.

Consider the motives spelt out by the mastermind of the Bali bombings:

"I carry out jihad based on the following background and motives," he said, listing 13 points: punishing America's allies, avenging the deaths of Muslims in Afghanistan, Australia's efforts to secure peace in East Timor, Hindu attacks on Muslims in Kashmir, Christian violence against Muslims in Ambon, Poso and elsewhere, the slaughter of Muslims in Bosnia, a duty to kill Jews and Christians, a desire to unite Muslims into a single, global state, a passage in the Koran (An Nisa, 74-76) to defend other Muslims, as a "harsh reprimand" to the basing of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, to make the West feel the pain that Muslims feel when loved ones die and "to prove to Allah that we have done all we can" to fight oppressors.

He didn't discuss poverty AT ALL.

Some of the poorest people in the world are from Bolivia and Chad, and not many are lining up to crash planes into buildings or blow up civilians.

You may also have noticed that much terrorist activity targets not the wealthy nations but other poor people, especially Muslims. If this is a protest against poverty, they are going a strange way about it.

You may have seen that terrorist attacks actually cause poverty by wiping out tourism, damaging investment and destroying infrastructure.

Al Qaeda almost never mentions poverty in its regular broadcasts. It mentions a war against infidel enemies, it mentions restoring a lost empire, it mentions expelling people from territories, it mentions the duty to kill people an awful lot, but it doesn't sound as though its an armed wing of the anti-globalisation movement.

If only the world was as straightforward as you suggest, it would be very easy to combat this threat. It would be like the Monty Python episode where the facile instructor promises to tell us how to irrigate the Sahara and how to cure cancer.

But it isn't that easy. Addressing world poverty is a vital task in its own right. But it doesn't seem to be that vital to the impulses of Jihad.
P - I am not sure I entirely agree. One of the principle reasons cited for Al-qaeda support is injustice between western and Islamic nations. This is certainly related to poverty. In addition, just because a socialist leader may be wealthy, does not make their cause, nor the beliefs of those who follow this leader, less valid. Why would if be any different for Al Qaeda. The point is not why the people at the top of the org are doing whatever they are, it is why they have widespread support, without which they cannot exist. There is no doubt that much of this support comes from a sense, rightly or wrongly, of injustice - conditions in gaza, economic stagnation in arab countries.,no sense of future, etc. These are intrinsically linked to poverty.
By all means they should talk. Didn't Neville and Eduard talk to Adolf?

As I posted recently, AQ are losing this 'widespread support', though, precisely because they are seen to be killing poor Muslims and creating poverty.

On your analysis, it sounds as though economics is not the 'root cause.' It is the absence of political freedom, and the manipulation by states and radical clergy of any grievance.

Without poverty, there would be something else to feed off. Like a sense of humiliation, hatred of rival faiths, the loss of territory (East Timor), a threat to a way of life, or even, gasp, the hatred of other faiths deliberately inculcated in the Arab-Islamic world.

If poverty were an essential cause, as opposed to just one more replaceable grievance, why are there almost no terrorist movements in many of the least economically developed countries on earth?

Finally, its a little glib to suggest that the reasons and motives of the practitioners themselves are irrelevant. 20,000 passed through training camps in Afghanistan in the 1990's. Terrorism happens not just because of groundswells in mass opinion, but because mostly bourgeois and privileged young men decide to enlist and participate. And all the research so far suggests that their motives have almost nothing to do with economic grievances.

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