The Corner

Talking to Syria and Iran

Again, I don’t think much good can possibly come of it. However, it might be worth doing in these circumstances. If Baker-Hamilton says talk to those countries, but don’t cut-and-run, the latter part of the equation will be very important for Bush in the current domestic political environment. It will create a bi-partisan fire-wall against the tendency of Democrats to cut-and-run. But if Bush wants to hail the anti-cut-and-run recommendation of Baker-Hamilton, it is going to be hard for him to blow off the talk-to-Syria-and-Iran recommendation, especially given his weakened political state. I’d be willing to swallow some window-dressing out-reach to Iran and Syria–knowing it’s going to go nowhere–if it is coupled with a serious effort to stabilize Baghdad with more troops. That seems the most important action Bush could take, and if Bush can win some measure of bi-partisan cover with it by bowing, or seeming to bow, to Baker-Hamilton on the business of talks, it could be worth it. Lots of nose-holding will be required, of course, especially given that the Syrian government is in the midst of an active campaign of killing foreign government officials it doesn’t like.

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