U.S. president Ronald Reagan defined Muammar Gadhafi as "a danger to national security and America's foreign policy." The Libyan leader, surrounded by female bodyguards, called the White House "the Black House." And President George W. Bush, Mr. Democratization, secretly conducted negotiations with the dictator and three months ago decided to renew diplomatic relations with Libya and remove it from the list of countries that support terror.
A short while later, Bush retreated from the "spurning" policy toward Iran. He offered the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is known for his sensitivity to human rights, a fine package of benefits, headed by the lifting of the American trade boycott on Iran. Washington also had a representative at the "six-sided" discussion with North Korea, led by the renowned reformer Kim Jong Il.
If Syria had enough petrodollars to buy nuclear technology, Bush would not have turned to British Prime Minister Tony Blair to urge UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to ask Syrian President Bashar Assad to be kind enough to shut down the weapons pipeline from Iran to the Hezbollah; the only power in the world would have found a shorter route to Damascus and would perhaps have even offered Assad the removal of the rust from the pipeline to peace negotiations with Israel. Although Bashar Assad is also not a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, it is difficult to argue that Syria is endangering world peace more than Iran and North Korea, or more than Libya had threatened it until recently.
Bush can allow himself to settle accounts with Assad for his support for opponents of the United States during the first stages of the war in Iraq and to pester Syria with reforms in its democracy. It is Israel that will pay the price for America's simplistic policy of spurning. There is no sign that Syria will help realize the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 of August, 2006, in Lebanon before he has an offer from the U.S. and/or Israel for the known price - the implementation of Security Council Resolution 242 of June, 1967 (and the Arab League resolution of March, 2002) in the Golan Heights.
Assad is not merely declaring that the status quo is not an option in the relations between Syria and Israel; on July 14, Syrian Defense Minister Hassan Turkmani and his Iranian counterpart Mostafa Mohammad Najjar signed an agreement on military cooperation between the two countries.
At the end of his visit to Damascus, the Iranian minister declared: "We are establishing a joint front against Israel's threats," adding that "Iran sees Syria's security as its own security." At that time the London-based newspaper Asharq Alawsat reported that Iran will fund weapons deals for Syria with Russia, China and Ukraine, in addition to the equipping of the Syrian army with artillery, rocket ammunition, military vehicles and rockets produced in Iran. On that same occasion, Syria extended the agreement with Iran concerning easing the transit of weapons trucks to Lebanon. The talks also dealt with aid to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the struggle against Israel and the confrontation with Fatah.
After blindness and arrogance have just now exacted an unbearable price from us, it was possible to expect that the leadership, as Nobel Peace Price laureate Vice Premier Shimon Peres likes to say, "will tell the truth to the nation."
The truth is that in the wake of the war with Lebanon, Israeli assessment sources too are recommending to the government that it immediately separate from the "neither-peace-nor-war" doctrine in the Syrian arena. They are presenting two options to the leaders. One is accelerated peace talks with Syria (and Lebanon) in exchange for the Golan Heights (and the Shebaa Farms), the distancing of an Iranian-Syrian alliance from the Israeli border and the cessation of support for the Palestinian resistance organizations. The other is an accelerated preemptive war against Syria, before Iran is equipped with a nuclear bomb and before Tehran completes the transformation of the Syrian army into a modern army rich in new types of weaponry.
According to cautious assessments, this process will take no longer than two years. Unfortunately, in the foreseeable future, we will not have a government that is capable of conducting negotiations with Syria and in the United States there is not a president who will do this for us. Therefore, keep the shelters clean.
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