Wrong Wrong Wrong
As many of the readers of this blog know, I was part of the US delegation that met with the Syrians over border security issues in September 2004 that this article mentions. The authors discuss the need for a new policy towards Syria:
"Washington should make it clear to Damascus that its genuine cooperation with the U.S. to control the Iraq-Syria border would entail American help in supporting the creation of a significant trade zone between Iraq and Syria, including reopening the oil pipeline between the two countries. At the same time, Washington should put a stop to all talks about removing the Baathist regime in Syria, because they are absurd and counterproductive under the current circumstances in Iraq."
I'll quote Natan Sharansky, Soviet dissident and later, Israeli politician: "The price for stability inside nondemocratic regimes is terror outside of them." (I'll have more about Sharansky later.) Have we learned nothing from the Cold War? or our dealings with Arafat? Nondemocratic regimes will always ask for support in the name of "stability", but then always incite terror and notion that the US is the enemy so that they can repress their own citizens. Sharansky makes a compelling case regarding Arafat and the disaster of the Oslo Accords.
And politically, the President must not back away from his rhetoric on Iraq. Why would democracy be so important to Iraqis, but not Syrians?
Of course, these are only my personal views; I'm sure a large portion of the US govt disagrees with me, including the folks at the State Department. Hopefully Dr. Rice can change that mentality.