Can the International Tribunal Change Syrian Policy?

Can the International Tribunal Change Syrian Policy?
By Joshua Landis
March 12, 2008

In two recent trips to Washington DC, I had the occasion to talk to a number of officials, ex-officials, and policy mavens about US policy toward Damascus in this very difficult transition period.

The consensus seems to be that the Bush administration is counting on the international tribunal to force Syria into changing its Lebanon policy, and presumably other policies as well.

How this will work is not completely clear. Syria has stated that it will not allow its citizens to appear before the tribunal, which it has said could be used as a political tool against it.

If Damascus does indeed refuse to allow Syrians to appear before the court, procedural difficulties will be enough to trip up the Syrians, suggest Washington officials. Whether sufficient evidence exists to convict Syrians would be irrelevant, in such a case.

Michael Young in his article, "Time may play against Syria in Lebanon" explains how many in Lebanon have their hopes pinned on this US policy.

US efforts also include ensuring that the Hariri tribunal is established as soon as possible, and that Daniel Bellemare, the future prosecutor of the tribunal, issues his act of accusation before the US administration leaves office. This seems likely, according to diplomats in Beirut. As Bush knows, no successor would engage Assad once the Syrian regime is implicated in Hariri's murder, particularly if it rebuffs all cooperation with the tribunal.   

Of course the international tribunal is not the only card the US has to play. It will continue to target Syrian politicians and regime figures for sanctions; it will accuse Syria of backing foreign fighters in Iraq; and it will continue to try to isolate Syria diplomatically by dissuading Arab and European leaders from doing business with Damascus. All the same, the international tribunal is the center piece of US strategy. It is the only strategy of those listed here that could possible lead European nations to join a sanctions regime against Damascus.

The likelihood of European nations being convinced or shamed into joining a sanctions regime against Damascus at this late date, seems improbable. Of course, if Syrian authorities stonewall the court, European statesmen will be obliged to do something. Whether their action will have real teeth will have to be seen. The notion that Damascus will reject the court in its entirety, is also doubtful. During the Mehlis investigation, Syria also said it would refuse to turn over witnesses. After some prevarication, it complied and avoided sanctions. Sending Syrians to an international court under indictment is different from sending them to Vienna for questioning. All the same, Syrian authorities are unlikely to refuse outright to deliver Syrians to the court.

How effective Washington's policy will be in liberating Lebanon from the influence of Hizbullah, Lebanon's native opposition, and Syrian influence remains to be seen.

Comments (183)


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151. TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Zenobia, well, ok, I accept all criticism as long as it’s fair. The items that I either don’t understand, are not founded on anything I said, or are misenterpretations are:
- “slightly sexist condenscension” ??? [never said it, implied it, nor intended it]
- “ancient old men like you” ??? [unfounded conclusion - really just an assumption - just because someone studies history and ties events across decades doesn't mean that someone is an "ancient old man"]
- “islamofascism” ??? [never used the word; don't believe in it; never attacked nor insulted Islam ]
As far as “thankfully (…) not being in this world too much longer to keep tainting it…” maybe you know something I don’t know but that’s news to me except if a sudden illness or accident were to befall.
You see, I gave you the benefit of articulating facts and opinions that are shared by many and that a good perentage of the American electorate subscribe to. I did admit to a lack of understanding on the part of Americans, and of course the administration in particular, of the cultural differences and the true ways to reach the hearts and minds in the ME. Regrettably, the converse is true (and then some!). You have not attempted persuasion. You have unleached a fury of words, accusations, incorrect assumptions, and insults. The need for outreach to hearts and minds goes both ways. The Arabs do have a sufficient number of highly educated and effective people – like you Zenobia – to undertake this mission. I’m not sure what’s lacking there. It’s regrettable that there is no Arabic Shai who would attempt what he has.

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March 16th, 2008, 7:00 pm

 

152. Seeking the Truth said:

TheOtherPointOfVieW says:
“…claim rights only by democratic means and by persuasion…”

and I ask, to what extent was Israel established this way in the past century?

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March 16th, 2008, 8:25 pm

 

153. TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

SimoHurtta, I do not wish to engage you in any debate but want to make it clear to any reader of this blog that I reject completely and outright your list as being nothing more than your projection of your accumulated hatred onto a single individual contributor of this blog. Your “Dictionary” bears no connection to anything I said but is simply your obfuscated view that classifies anyone who presents you with a different perspective as conforming to a specific picture you paint in your mind and which is reflected in that “Dictionary.” Any sensible person on this blog should see this. Those who don’t and subscribe to your views are simply hopeless. I doubt there are many of them (maybe just one = Ausamaa).

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March 16th, 2008, 9:14 pm

 

154. TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Seeking, you ask “to what extent was Israel established this way in the past century?”
Fair question. Should be debated, analyzed, contended; the Arab viewpoint put forth strongly, articulately, persuasively. I have read the speech (in history files and UN records) of the former Lebanese president Suleiman Frangieh in the 1970′s at the UN on this subject: superbly eloquent and effective. You need more of this kind of lobbying. You need more self-improvement and build-up of true strength to reclaim what you believe are violated rights. Instead, history shows overpouring of rash reactions and emotions, espousing by some of terrorism. The results speak for themselves. Do NOT misunderstand the firm stand of folks like me against terrorism and similar methods as bigotry against Arabs. You’d be surprised how many are open-minded and ready to be persuaded and engaged.
Instead, we are treated to fury as you saw in the epic exchange with Zenobia.

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March 16th, 2008, 9:21 pm

 

155. Shai said:

TOPOV,

I’m very glad to hear you say that “many are open-minded and ready to be persuaded and engaged.” At first sight, to me and perhaps to many others, some of your arguments (as well as AIG/AP’s) appear to originate from a certain closed-mindedness, or at least extreme inflexibility in looking the glass inside out (through our neighbors’ eyes). Your statement is very important, and should be repeated often, in order to give hope to many here who may have already given up on Israelis.

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March 16th, 2008, 9:35 pm

 

156. TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

No problem Shai. Just notice though some of the categorical responses to my posts (by Ausamaa and Simohurtta for example) which extrapolate from what I say to include 99% of things I did not say and which are projected through a highly filtered lens with which they view things. Therein lies a fundamental problem, Shai. Folks like this you can’t win over. You can try with the others, like Zenobia. I wish you luck. For my part, I managed to make Zenobia hate me. Not be indifferent to me. Just plain hate me. Not sure it is deserved based on what I said. I suspect I must have hit some raw sensitivities and will continue to challenge all to (a) full rejection of terrorism as I defined it unambiguously and (b) engagement through persuasion and competence. Without these, violent conflict will continue.

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March 16th, 2008, 10:11 pm

 

157. norman said:

topov,
Do not be silly ,
nobody hates you , we do not like what Israel does and your defence of it , The only way is move beyond the past and look for the possibilities that can be there if the semitic people stop killing each other and try to care about each other for the good of their children.

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March 17th, 2008, 12:05 am

 

158. Akbar Palace said:

TOPOV,

Welcome to Professor Josh’s (Director, Center for Peace Studies
University of Oklahoma) Syria Comment website.

Unfortunately, the only time the participants here feel peaceful is when they don’t have to dialogue with a pro-Israeli.

You see, many of the participants here still do not accept Israel’s right to exist, nor do they permit Israel the right of self-defense.

These rights are only afforded to countries other than Israel.

Feel free to contact me, and we can discuss other interesting nuances that make up the Syria Comment “peace” website:

Regards.

Akbar Palace

palace.akbar@gmail.com

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March 17th, 2008, 1:14 am

 

159. norman said:

Ap,TOPOV,

Nobody wants Israel to disappear , we just feel that Israel should look for the future and understand that war forever is not in Israel’s best interest , so peace no matter how much it feels will make her give up is better than losing everything in the long run.

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March 17th, 2008, 1:38 am

 

160. Akbar Palace said:

Nobody wants Israel to disappear…

Thanks Norman,

I guess you didn’t see Zenobia’s post:

i gave you my plan of ‘ACTION’….SEE…IT IS CALLED GET THE F OUT OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND LEAVE IT ALONE.

Of course Zenobia holds no power assuming he’s a resident of the Middle East, but the Iranian, Hamas, and Hezbollah leadership also do not agree with your words of “reassurance”.

we just feel that Israel should look for the future and understand that war forever is not in Israel’s best interest

I agree, however it is not Israel’s responsibility to define the Hamas and Hezbollah charters nor is it Israel’s responsibility to put words in Ahmadinejad’s mouth. Neither of these political forces are willing to make peace with Israel, nor do they accept Israel’s existence.

So please, don’t say “nobody”, unless you really have proof;)

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March 17th, 2008, 1:49 am

 

161. norman said:

Ap,
I look at the Hebrews as an essential part in the Mideast , they are the people who left many years ago during the Roman conquest as i did only 25 years ago and many others and as i like for my children to have the right to return to Syria if they want i think that the Hebrews or the Jews should be able to do so ,

You keep saying that everybody wants to destroy Israel , I agree that some want that but the Majority of Palestinians Syrians Lebanese and Iranians just want Israel to be more considerate to their rights the rights that Israel would want if it was in their position, you keep saying that Hamas and all the others want to destroy Israel , Israel did not even try to talk to Hamas to see what they really want , talk does not make anybody lose anything and it will make it easier to make an informed decision on this important subject which will affect Israel and the others for a long time to come.

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March 17th, 2008, 2:16 am

 

162. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

Shai,

Inflexibility?

You asked Bashmann a direct question on whether Israel talking with Syria will hamper democracy in Syria and if it should be pursued. You got your answer but chose to just tell Bashmann that you have to ignore his answer because your concerns are more important than his.

You admitted very clearly that leaving Lebanon was an Israeli mistake yet you are for repeating a similar mistake in the Golan and the West Bank. Your response to everything is: There is going to be a war! We must do everything to stop it! Let’s try again giving back territory and see if it works this time.

And all the time you are masquarading under the flag that you understand “the other side” better. It is clear that you are only willing to listen to the parts of the “other side” that agree with your ideas. So why the posturing?

Throwing yourself under a train to to try curing acute back pain because you have already tried everything else is not being “flexible” and telling people that advise against it that they are not “flexible” is not a reasonable position.

The fact is, that very few in Israel support your position not because they don’t understand the Arabs but because they understand them too well and take them seriously. Can you please explain to me why a very large majority of Jews coming from Arab lands support my position and very few support yours? Do you understand the Arabs better than them, or are you just more “flexible”?

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March 17th, 2008, 3:21 am

 

163. Zenobia said:

Akbar. don’t say i said that i am against Israel existing. i didn’t ever ever say that.

i am pro-Israel if that just refers to whether it should exist or not. that isn’t even a damn question for me. it does exist. it will exist. I would even say that Israeli people had a right to pursue a dream they had of that place to live and thrive.
this is not even under question for me. and i am not worried about her continued existence. this is just nonsense. Israel has plenty of weaponry and even nuclear weaponry. and if the entire arab world tried to wipe out Israel (as i stated above above about my feel regarding anything like genocide … ) i would support defending her.
But this is simply not reality. Israel is not in danger. this is myth at this point.
there is still excess fear. but she is incredibly powerful. It is only because of her own expansive enterprises that she has continued to be a target.

and i do believe that the USA has destroyed it own credibility for quite a while, and that this cannot be just repaired easily, and that therefore we need to get out of the middle east before we just make ourselves more hated.
do i think there is going to be a disaster in Iraq. Yes, i do. but i think that disaster if going to come anyway.. either NOW or Later. and I think it is just prolonging the fallout to stay. It is better to let what is going to happen between these countrymen happen. It is their business and not ours. that is what i am talking about.
I believe everyone in the middle east deserves humanitarian intervention, so action in that form would be positive. i am just against all form of warfare. period.

As for TOPOV, yes, i do hate you.
you did in fact manage to elicit this feeling. but i don’t know you as a person. so it doesn’t really matter. I will more correctly say, i hate what you put here on the blog.
but let me clarify.
you are not the first by any means to express these type of ideas. so please stop flattering yourself as if you are the first person to have such profound insights and critiques. Hardly.
and in the past, i rarely felt that level of repulsion.

what repulses me is not your IDEAS.
no, what repulses me and makes me angry….is your tone and language, however subtle and underhanded it may be. It reeks of condescension, arrogance, and superiority.
that is what i hate.
and that started from the moment you posted. YOU were the insulting person first… in these little slights of words.
Condescending to most of the people here… and that is what i find revolting and that brings out fury in me.

but do you see that about how you presented your ideas? no i am sure you don’t. because people who feel superior and keep talking about how others don’t have their level of logic and reasoning and evidence …etc etc etc… and are that arrogant… obviously don’t have much self-observation.

but you needn’t mistake that for anger at your ideas. you ideas are very common. (and i don’t mean to say that they are the ‘majority’ or that they have more validity) i mean that they are of the lowest common form…

now, please stop referring to me.. or talking to me. as i said before.

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March 17th, 2008, 4:51 am

 

164. Shai said:

AIG, welcome back.

You know, while reading what you wrote, I think I suddenly understood the problem here. You have thoughts on what should and should not happen in our region. You have ideas of how to go about it. But what you manage again and again to do, is to alienate almost anyone that reads your comments. Why? Because what you do, is not come into a room, take a seat, and calmly discuss matters. Instead, you seem to “barge in”, take out your Uzi, and start spraying people with your criticism. Even if you have unbelievable wisdom, your way of expressing it is, at best, horrific. And, as you know, marketing is everything. When you don’t market well, the content is irrelevant, because no one’s listening to the “what”, only to the “how”. You may claim that we, as well-educated, affluent cyber-astronauts, should be able to rise “above that”. But reality is simply such that we can’t, and very few people can. I’m sorry if I sound patronizing, I don’t mean it that way, but I do want you to notice how others may perceive you simply because of “how” you market yourself.

Now, for the Tachless. Look, I certainly do not wish to repeat the mistakes of the unilateral withdrawals from Lebanon and now apparently Gaza. By the way, when I say “the mistakes of…”, I don’t mean that there also weren’t good things that came out of them – there were. But I don’t want to make the same mistakes in the West Bank, and in the Golan. And therefore I’m not suggesting that we should unilaterally withdraw from either. With the Golan, there’s no reason to, as Syria is ready, willing, and able to make peace right now (not a year from now, now!) With the West Bank, it is far more complicated given the rift between Abu Mazen and Hamas, which is why I don’t believe we can leave the West Bank on our own, nor hand it to him tomorrow morning. But, I do believe that peace with Syria can help resolve a lot of those issues, and will therefore contribute greatly also to peace with the Palestinians, which is so long overdue.

To suggest that I fear war so much, that I’m willing to just give back land, and “see if it works this time…” is not very respectful of you. Am I that reckless with Israel’s security? Am I such a gambler with our future? Do I have no understanding of reality around me? Am I merely a “dreamer”? If you think so, then either you haven’t been reading my comments carefully, or you’re not open to seeing me any differently (as some have termed it, you’ve already “labeled” me). I’m not into science experiments in the Middle East. I don’t think we should give back land, and wait and see what happens. I do think we should get out of the West Bank (when possible), and the Golan, because they’re not ours, period. If you told me, look, let’s consider giving back the “triangle” in central Israel, in return for keeping Ariel, and other large settlements, I’d have to think very very carefully. Doing such a thing “quickly” could be dangerous and irresponsible, as it entails huge complexities. But leaving the Golan, in return for peace with Syria, doesn’t require that much contemplation. It is not our land, we conquered it in war, and should return it. I never said let’s give it back no matter what. I said let’s give it back when Syria’s ready to recognize us, and in fact, make peace with us. Since they’re ready, and have been for the past number of years, why are we waiting? Because Washington prefers we do? Because GWAT “bad guy” lists include Syria, and Bashar Assad? Who understands and should be in charge of Israel’s strategic interests in the region, Dubya, or Israel?

You don’t seriously think most Israelis understand Arabs better than I do, do you? Would you say the same about yourself? Of course not, because most Israelis haven’t engaged in even one-tenth of one percent of my (or your) efforts with Arabs. They haven’t listened to more than 5 minutes total time of one-on-one with an Arab, their entire lives. Same, of course, for most Arabs around us. There are other reasons why many Spharadic Jews don’t like Arabs, and you know full well what they are. It has nothing to do with politics, or policy, or great understanding of the Arabs of today. It has to do with their past, and with the fact that they left those countries, mostly as children, and cannot fathom liking them ever again.

Lastly, I’M not showing flexibility? What on earth are you talking about? Can you show me ANY flexibility you’re showing? Can you point to ANYTHING you’re doing to promote peace in our region? Can you suggest ANY scenario whereby tomorrow morning we make peace with Syria, who is offering it almost to the point of embarrassment?

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March 17th, 2008, 6:15 am

 

165. Alex said:

TOPOV,

“It’s regrettable that there is no Arabic Shai who would attempt what he has.”

There are many Arabic Shais … but you would not be able to notice them … Shai himself did find a few here.

I think what you are looking for is this “Arab”:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a0wVDk0fA4g

The Neocons were/are preparing him to become president of Syria.

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March 17th, 2008, 6:24 am

 

166. Shai said:

Alex, TOPOV,

I’m getting a little embarrassed here… There are many many Arabs who are no less open-minded and ready to make peace, than I am. I have found many here, and elsewhere. Like I said to AIG above, so much of it has to do with HOW we talk about things, not even with the WHAT. Respect is something we normally exercise everywhere in our day-to-day (or at least we should), but here, and in talking between enemies, it is paramount to achieving any level of discourse, not to mention empathy.

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March 17th, 2008, 6:40 am

 

167. Alex said:

VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Benedict XVI issued one of his strongest appeals for peace in Iraq on Sunday, days after the body of the kidnapped Chaldean Catholic archbishop was found near the northern city of Mosul.

The pope also denounced the 5-year-long Iraq war, saying it had provoked the complete breakup of Iraqi civilian life.

“Enough with the slaughters. Enough with the violence. Enough with the hatred in Iraq!” Benedict said to applause at the end of his Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square.

On Thursday, the body of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho was found near Mosul. He had been abducted on Feb. 29.

Benedict has called Rahho’s death an “inhuman act of violence” that offended human dignity.

On Sunday, Benedict praised Rahho for his loyalty to Christ and his refusal to abandon his flock despite many threats and difficulties.

He recalled Rahho’s death as the Catholic Church opens Holy Week, the most solemn week in the liturgical calendar in which the faithful recall the suffering and death of Jesus Christ.

Benedict said Rahho’s dedication to the Catholic Church and his death compelled him to “raise a strong and sorrowful cry” to denounce the violence in Iraq spawned by the war that began five years ago this week.

“At the same time, I make an appeal to the Iraqi people, who for the past five years have borne the consequences of a war that provoked the breakup of their civil and social life,” Benedict said.

He urged them to raise their heads and reconstruct their life through “reconciliation, forgiveness, justice and coexistence among tribal, ethnic and religious groups.”

The Vatican strongly opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. In its aftermath, Benedict has frequently criticized attacks against Iraqi Christians by Islamic extremists. Last year, he urged President Bush to keep the safety of Iraqi Christians in mind.

Benedict is due to preside over a memorial service at the Vatican on Monday in honor of Rahho. Typically, the pope only presides over such services when a cardinal dies.

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March 17th, 2008, 6:51 am

 

168. Alex said:

Shai do you have the English version of Alon’s interview with Asharq Alawsat today?

ئيس اللوبي الإسرائيلي للسلام مع سورية لـ«الشرق الاوسط»: بعد 10 أشهر من مغادرة بوش سنوقعُ اتفاقَ سلامٍ مع دمشق

ألون لئيل يؤكد أن 85% من قضايا الجولان أقرتها الحكومات التي سبقت شارون وأولمرت
الون لئيل
تل أبيب: نظير مجلي
صرح رئيس اللوبي الاسرائيلي للسلام مع سورية والمدير العام الأسبق لوزارة الخارجية الاسرائيلية، الدكتور ألون لئيل، في حديث لـ«الشرق الأوسط»، ان احتمالات السلام بين اسرائيل وسورية أكبر بكثير مما يرى في ظروف اليوم. وان هناك استعدادا واسعا في اسرائيل لمثل هذا السلام. وأكد ان العائق أمام سلام كهذا هو الرئيس الأميركي، جورج بوش. فعندما يغادر بوش البيت الأبيض، ستبدأ مسيرة مفاوضات في غضون أربعة شهور بين الجانبين وهو، أي لئيل، يتوقع أن تنتهي هذه المفاوضات في غضون ستة أشهر باتفاق سلام دائم وشامل بين البلدين.

ولئيل، 60 عاما، هو أحد الشخصيات الدبلوماسية المعروفة في اسرائيل. وعمل في وزارة الخارجية الاسرائيلية طيلة 30 عاما، 1971ـ2001، وكان شاهدا عن قرب على مراحل تقدم المفاوضات الاسرائيلية ـ السورية، منذ حكم اسحق رابين الذي سلم وزير الخارجية الأميركي، وارن كريستوفر، وديعة يتعهد فيها بالموافقة على الانسحاب الى حدود 4 يونيو (حزيران) 1967 مقابل سلام كامل وشامل مع سورية وضمانات أمنية مناسبة، وكذلك في فترة حكم بنيامين نتنياهو (الذي بدأ مفاوضات مع سورية، ووافق على الانسحاب لكنه تراجع في آخر لحظة، وحتى حكم ايهود باراك، الذي شغل لديه منصب المدير العام لوزارة الخارجية في الفترة ما بين 2000 و2001. منذ أربع سنين تقريبا، ينشط لئيل في محادثات مع شخصيات سورية، بواسطة طرف ثالث في البداية (الحكومة السويسرية)، ثم بمحادثات مباشرة، بهدف وضع صيغة اتفاق للسلام بين البلدين. والشخصية السورية التي تولت ادارة هذه المفاوضات، هو ابراهيم سليمان، وهو باحث أميركي من أصل سوري. لكن اسم سليمان «احترق» في سورية لدى زيارته لإسرائيل في السنة الماضية. واضطر السوريون الى استبدال آخر به، مع انه ما زال يشارك في اللقاءات، بشخصيات أخرى تبدو أرفعَ وأهمَّ في أروقة السياسة بدمشق. وفي الأسابيع الأخيرة حصل تقدم كبير في ذلك، حيث التقى لئيل مع السفير السوري في واشنطن، عماد مصطفى، مباشرة (سورية نفت). ومع ان لئيل لم يؤكد ولم ينف أمر هذا اللقاء، واشترط ألا يسأل عن الموضوع، فقد تأكد من عدة مصادر أمر هذا اللقاء. وعلمت «الشرق الاوسط» ان الطرفين اتفقا على انه طالما تشكل الادارة الأميركية الحالية عقبة أمام استئناف المفاوضات على المسار السوري، فينبغي العمل في الولايات المتحدة لإزالة هذه العقبة بواسطة تجنيد لوبي خاص لهذه الغاية. وفهمت «الشرق الاوسط» ان امكانات نجاح هذا اللوبي لدرجة التأثير على السياسة الأميركية في الادارة القادمة كبيرة جدا.

وفي ما يلي نص الحديث:

* ما الذي حققتموه منذ أعلنتم عن اقامة حركة السلام اسرائيل ـ سورية؟

ـ عقدنا 12 لقاء حتى الآن، تقدمنا فيها كثيرا في التفاهمات حول أسس هذا السلام بين اسرائيل وسورية.

* ما هي هذه الأسس؟

ـ انسحاب من الأراضي التي احتلتها اسرائيل سنة 1967 مقابل ضمانات أمنية للطرفين واقامة السلام الشامل، وبسبب المعارضة الواسعة في اسرائيل للانسحاب من الجولان، توصلنا الى اقتراح بإقامة حديقة قومية في الثلث الغربي من هضبة الجولان يتاح فيها للمواطنين الاسرائيليين دخولها من دون تأشيرة دخول (مثلما يتاح مثل هذا الأمر للاسرائيليين في شرم الشيخ وطابا المصريتين) والإبقاء على المشاريع الاقتصادية الاسرائيلية الحالية في الجولان (مصانع النبيذ الفاخر والمزارع وغيرها) كاستثمارات أجنبية يواصل أصحابها ادارتها كمشاريع سورية ولمدة 5 ـ 15 سنة منذ توقيع اتفاق السلام لا يعود المواطنون السوريون للسكنى في هذا الثلث من الجولان، ولكن هذا الثلث يكون تحت السيادة السورية الكاملة.

* أين هو موقف الحكومات من هذه المحادثات. فكيف تقتنع أنت بأن الحكومة السورية تقف وراء هذه المحادثات وكيف تقنعنا بأن الحكومة الاسرائيلية تقف وراءك أنت في هذه المحادثات؟

ـ لا يمكننا القول انها محادثات بين حكومتين، ولكن من الواضح أنني اتحدث مع شخصيات لها وزنها الكبير في مؤسسات الحكم في سورية. أما في اسرائيل فقد بدأت هذه المحادثات في زمن حكومة أرييل شارون، بالتنسيق مع وزارة الخارجية. وكل ما أفعله يتم بمعرفتهم.

* هل كان شارون شخصيا يعرف؟

ـ بالتأكيد كان يعرف. أنا شخصياً لم أتحدث معه في الموضوع، ولكنني عندما كنت أبلغ الخارجية كانوا يطلعونه على ما يجري. فأنا كنت ذات مرة مديرا عاما في وزارة الخارجية، وأعرف كيف تنقل مثل هذه الأمور. كما انني اعرف ان شارون كان يعرف.

* ورئيس الوزراء الحالي أولمرت، هل كان يعرف؟ وهل يعرف اليوم؟

ـ في حينه لم يكن يعرف لأنه كان وزيراً للتجارة والصناعة في حكومة شارون. ولكنه اليوم يعرف بالتأكيد. وهو يدرك ان الأمور جدية، ولم يعد يستطع تجاهلها، ولذلك رأيناه يصرح قبل أيام بأنه لا يرى غضاضة في استئناف المفاوضات مع سورية. ولمح إلى أن هناك اتصالات مع دمشق.

* كيف تدار هذه المحادثات؟ أين؟ وعلى أي أسس؟

ـ في البداية جرت في أوروبا ثم الولايات المتحدة. وهي لقاءات بين شخصيات يهمها أن يقوم السلام بين دولتيها وشعبيها، تتم في اطار حوار ثنائي أو في اطار حوار أوسع بحضور آخرين. وهناك لقاءات على مستوى آخر، مثل الندوة التي جرت اخيرا في واشنطن وشاركت فيها مع السفير السوري لدى الولايات المتحدة؛ عماد مصطفى.

* فهمنا منك ان هدف زيارتك للولايات المتحدة هو بالأساس اقامة لوبي أميركي يضغط من أجل استئناف المفاوضات بين اسرائيل وسورية، فهل هذا يعني انكم توصلتم الى القناعة بأن واشنطن هي التي تمنع الحكومة الاسرائيلية من استئناف هذه المفاوضات؟

ـ ليس كل واشنطن، بل ادارة الرئيس بوش هي التي تمنع اسرائيل من استئناف المفاوضات.

* ألم تعد اسرائيل دولة مستقلة؟

ـ في العلاقات الدولية، توجد آليات ومصالح تجعل إحداها تبدو تابعة للأخرى في بعض المواقف. أولمرت ليس معنياً بإغضاب الرئيس بوش. لكن هناك قوى عديدة في الحزبين الديمقراطي والجمهوري تؤيدنا في موقفنا حول ضرورة استئناف المفاوضات، وتنتقد بشدة سياسة بوش في هذا الموضوع. وأنا واثق من انه بعد غياب بوش في 20 يناير (كانون الثاني) عام 2009، سيزاح هذا الحظر ويشعل الضوء الأخضر في واشنطن وستستأنف المفاوضات بين اسرائيل وسورية في غضون أربعة أشهر من تسلم الرئيس الأميركي الجديد مهام منصبه.

* وهل ستسفر هذه المفاوضات عن اتفاق، حسب رأيك؟

ـ بالتأكيد، فأنا أعرف ان 85% من القضايا اتفق عليها بين كل الحكومات الاسرائيلية التي سبقت حكومتي شارون وأولمرت وبين سورية. وبقية القضايا لا تحتاج الى أكثر من ستة أشهر. فإذا استؤنفت المفاوضات فعلا حسب تقديراتي هذه، فإنها ستنتهي باتفاق سلام شامل ودائم بين البلدين، حتى نهاية 2009.

* هل زيارتك للولايات المتحدة استهدفت التحضير لتلك الفترة؟ وهل التقيت مع المرشحين للرئاسة الأميركية؟

ـ أجل، التقينا مع مسؤولين في الطواقم الانتخابية للمرشحين الثلاثة للرئاسة ووجدنا تجاوبا ايجابيا. ولكي نضمن ألا يخربوا علينا هذه الجهود، نتصل من الآن بكبار الموظفين المهنيين في الادارة الأميركية، فهؤلاء سيبقون في وظائفهم عندما يتغير الرئيس. وتوجد حاجة للشرح لهم حتى لا يشكلوا لنا عقبة في المستقبل. نحن نريد الوصول الى مرحلة انتهاء دورة الرئيس بوش، بوجود لوبي واسع في الولايات المتحدة يؤيد المفاوضات الاسرائيلية ـ السورية، لا أن نبدأ العمل في ذلك الوقت.

* ألا يشترطون شيئاً على سورية مثل «الخروج من محور الشر» و«رفع اليد عن لبنان» وغيرهما..؟

ـ واضح ان الأميركيين يناقشون العديد من جوانب السياسة السورية، ولكن نحن أيضا نناقشهم حولها. فالأمور التي يضعونها عقبة، هي في نظرنا ناجمة عن الصراع. فإذا توصلت اسرائيل وسورية الى اتفاق سلام، ستزول تلك العقبات.

* أعطِنَا مثلا على ذلك، فالأميركيون يهاجمون سورية على موقفها من الموضوع اللبناني، فهل أنتم تدافعون عن موقف سورية أمامهم؟

ـ كلا. نحن نقول لهم اننا ندرك أهمية موقفهم من الموضوع اللبناني. ففي الولايات المتحدة يوجد لوبي لبناني قوي ومؤثر. وفي الوقت نفسه، نقول لهم ان السلام الاسرائيلي ـ السوري سيفرض بحد ذاته قواعد جديدة في المنطقة. فإذا وقعت سورية اتفاق سلام مع اسرائيل، لا يعقل أن تتحالف مع مَنْ يعلن ليل نهار أنه يريد ابادة اسرائيل مثل ايران أو حزب الله أو حماس. وليس من المعقول أن تمد أياً من هذه التنظيمات بالسلاح. سورية دولة مستقلة ولها مصالح ولا يربطها مع ايران رباط آيديولوجي. لذا، فإن الأمور ستتغير بالمنطقة مع هذا السلام. وهذا لمصلحة الغرب ولمصلحة كل شعوب المنطقة، والأهم لمصلحة الشعبين الاسرائيلي والسوري.

* ألا تشترطون على سورية أن تقطع علاقاتها بإيران؟

ـ ليس من المنطق أن تطلب من دولة مستقلة أن تقطع علاقاتها مع دولة صديقة. فهناك علاقات متينة بين سورية وايران، اقتصاديا وسياسيا وعسكريا. ما يمكن أن نطلبه، وهذا شرعي ومتبع في جميع الاتفاقات السلمية الدولية، هو الا تكون تلك العلاقات مؤثرة سلبيا أو متناقضة مع أهداف اتفاق السلام. وهذا أمر مفروغ منه.

* لنعد الى اسرائيل. هناك لوبي كبير يؤيد السلام مع سورية بين السياسيين والعسكريين، ولكن كما تعرف فإن غالبية الاسرائيليين أعلنوا في عدة استطلاعات رأي أنهم لن يؤيدوا الانسحابَ من الجولان، حتى لو كان ذلك مقابل السلام؟

ـ علمتنا التجربة أنه في اللحظة التي تبدأ فيها القيادة الرسمية مفاوضات، ينخفض عدد المعارضين بنسبة 10ـ15% على الفور. ومع استمرار المفاوضات، تنشأ آلية تأييد متنامية، خصوصا إذا عرفنا كيف نأتي باقتراحات إبداعية خلاقة تطمئن الجمهور على مستقبله وتقنعه بصدق النوايا. فمثلا، اقتراح الحديقة القومية، يعتبر مساعداً جداً لقبول الاسرائيليين الانسحاب، بمن في ذلك مستوطنون بالجولان. ولا تنسى ان الشخصيات السياسية والعسكرية المؤيدة لهذا السلام كثيرة ومحترمة. وان قسماً كبيراً من الوزراء يؤيدون، بينهم وزير الدفاع ايهود باراك. ورئيس اركان الجيش، غابي أشكنازي، والعديد من أعضاء هيئة رئاسة الأركان الحاليين يؤيدون. إضافة إلى رؤساء اركان سابقين، مثل أمنون لفكين شاحاك وموشيه يعلون ورؤساء شعبة الاستخبارات العسكرية، أوري ساغي وأهرون زئيفي فركش وعاموس يدلين، ونائب رئيس الأركان السابق، موشيه كابلينسكي، ورئيس الشاباك (جهاز المخابرات العامة) سابقا وزير الشؤون الاستراتيجية، عامي ايلون، ورؤساء مجلس الأمن القومي، غيورا آيلاند وعوزي ديان ورئيس الموساد (جهاز المخابرات الخارجية الأسبق)، يعقوب بيري، وغيرهم.

* هناك تخوف، خصوصا لدى الفلسطينيين، من ان تفضيل المسار السوري على المسار الفلسطيني جاء ليمس القضية الفلسطينية وليكون على حسابها. فما رأيك في هذا؟

ـ نحن لم نأت لنحل محل المسار الفلسطيني. فإسرائيل بحاجة الى السلام مع الفلسطينيين والسوريين. ولكننا عندما نقول إننا نفضل السلام مع سورية أولا، لأننا نرى ان المفاوضات مع سورية ممكنة ولا تحتاج الى الكثير من الجهد لأن معظمها ناجز، وثانيا لأننا نعتقد ان السلام مع الفلسطينيين اليوم غير واقعي. فهناك الانشقاق بين حماس وفتح، وهناك الانقلاب في غزة الذي زاد المسألة تعقيداً. وهناك قضايا مُحرِقة لا تستطيع الحكومة الحالية البت فيها حالياً، مثل قضية القدس وقضية اللاجئين وقضية الحدود، فهذه قضايا صعبة للغاية. فلا يُعقل أن نظل ننتظر ونضيِّعَ الفرصة السانحة. فالرئيس بشار السد يقترح منذ اربع سنوات اجراء مفاوضات غير مشروطة مع اسرائيل في سبيل تحقيق سلام شامل وعادل، فهل يعقل أن نرفض؟ ثم انني أعتقد أن السلام مع سورية سيسهل أكثر السلام مع الفلسطينيين، لأن حماس ستفقد كثيرا من قوتها وتأثيرها، وقوى التطرف لن تستطيع التخريب بسهولة على الاتفاق.

* قل صراحة، هل تثق بالرئيس بشار الأسد وتؤمن بصدقه في طرح مبادرة للسلام مع إسرائيل؟

ـ نعم أثق به وأصدقه. انه يريد السلام والرخاء لشعبه. وأنا أعرف ان لديه معارضين في سورية، ومع ذلك فهو ماضٍ بقوة في نهجه

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March 17th, 2008, 7:20 am

 

169. Shai said:

No, but I’ll see if he does.

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March 17th, 2008, 7:37 am

 

170. Shai said:

Alex,

I haven’t seen an English version of Alon’s interview yet.

However, Alon has seen already a Hebrew summary of it in (nana10.co.il), and has remarked that they made exaggerations, writing of meetings conducted between Alon and high-level Syrian officials in Washington. Alon mentioned that in the interview, he spoke about unofficial meetings with private Syrian citizens.

Journalists naturally like to fill up their stories with as much sensationalism as possible and, at least in the Hebrew version, they exaggerated. Since I do not read Arabic, I don’t know if the same was written in the Asharq Alawsat article.

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March 17th, 2008, 9:11 am

 

171. Norman said:

I wonder if he meant by meeting non official Syrians is his meeting with us at Syria comment recently.

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March 17th, 2008, 12:38 pm

 

172. TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

AP,

I guess I’ll address you since Zenobia banned me from responding directly, the main reason for my response being to ensure that the record is clear. [Details below].

Alex,

Thank you for the link introducing me to Farid Ghadry. At first look (Wikipedia, reformsyria.org), I don’t see problems with the principles he is advocating. Maybe there’s more, which after some research, would make one have reservations (?). And clearly, even if Mr. Ghadry has the panacea, the key is in a peaceful transition from what is now to what could be. No one wants a repeat of Iraq. Any change in Syria has to be one supported by the majority of Syrian people. I’m not an expert in these matters but wanted to clearly indicate how my thinking goes in them lest it be misinterpreted. [And I'm not looking to be an influential voice either.]

Norman,

I do appreciate your positive tone and good intentions. But alas, as far as the “hate” status of Zenobia, just read the most recent post of Zenobia regrettably disagreeing with your interpretation. Regrettably, my perception was correct.

Now to setting the record straight:

1- For anyone interested in objective analysis, please do review all my posts and Zenobia’s and come to your own conclusion as far as the language used and the style of communicating certain points.

2- What I have stood categorically for is the absolute rejection of terrorism as I defined it. Zenobia, it seems to me, finds it justifiable because the perpetrators, and I’m paraphrasing, have no other recourse.

3- The standing on rejecting terrorism is firm and absolute on my part. There is no room for negotiation here. If the other party insists on it and will not cease and desist, then it’s a fight to the death. Period. Please note that I’m not “insinuating” nor am I using double-speak nor trying to sneak in my argument. It’s clear like night and day.

4- If indeed there are arguments to be made against Israel in this terrorism vein, or the U.S., then fine, we’ll discuss them in the open with complete facts and whether any such actions by Israel or by the U.S. rise to that standard or come close to it. I have clearly indicated my agreement that mistakes and crimes have been committed. In any case, 2 wrongs don’t make a right, and terrorism needs to be eliminated regardless of who perpetrates it.

5- My response to:
“you are not the first by any means to express these type of ideas. so please stop flattering yourself as if you are the first person to have such profound insights and critiques. Hardly.”

is:

I never claimed to be the first, I’m not flattering myself, and I never claimed that my insights and critiques are profound. On the contrary, I believe simplicity and straightforwardness is the key. That’s what I intended. I trust I succeeded. Clarity of purpose; clarity of message.

6- My response to:
“what repulses me and makes me angry….is your tone and language, however subtle and underhanded it may be. It reeks of condescension, arrogance, and superiority.
that is what i hate.
and that started from the moment you posted. YOU were the insulting person first… in these little slights of words.
Condescending to most of the people here… and that is what i find revolting and that brings out fury in me.”

is:

I see clearly that, for some reason, my style of writing, my “tone and language” hits a raw nerve with Zenobia. I honestly don’t know why. I reject that my writing “reeks condescension, arrogance, and superiority.” What my writings express is clear. The readership can judge for itself whether there’s more to it than what is there. Again, I think I did put my finger on the one raw nerve: unambiguous definition of terrorism and its absolute rejection, something that some want to massage into a sometimes acceptable option. When I called this attempt and elicited a coming-out of those who subscribe to it, I seem to have generated anger by some. When I challenged the other party to use other means and rise up to the standard of successful persuasion (call it lobbying), I got a push-back with all sorts of excuses as to why it can’t be effective or work. Herein lies the issue.

7- My response to:
“but do you see that about how you presented your ideas? no i am sure you don’t. because people who feel superior and keep talking about how others don’t have their level of logic and reasoning and evidence …etc etc etc… and are that arrogant… obviously don’t have much self-observation.
but you needn’t mistake that for anger at your ideas. you ideas are very common. (and i don’t mean to say that they are the ‘majority’ or that they have more validity) i mean that they are of the lowest common form…”

is:

I don’t “feel” superior, nor do I in fact “think” I am. Far from it. I’m not using sophisticated logic either (at least I hope I’m not as that would be a surprise to me). My statements about the (oil) wealth available to the Arab countries, the sheer size of their population as compared to Israel, the ineffectiveness with which, in the US, the Arab point of view is presented, the ambiguity in expressing a firm stand against terrorism by some in the Arab world, the continued targeting of civilians by rejectionist groups in the ME,… all these are facts, not opinioins. If the way I said these things was offensive to anyone, let me be the first to apologize, but please don’t let my style be the one thing that gets in the way of a solution.

Finally, I find it quite interesting, and a bit amusing, that AP is treated to a superbly supportive position regarding the existence of Israel and its potential positive role in the ME. I applaud this position. I simply point out the inconsistency in that position and in the failure to unambiguously reject terrorism. I will hasten to add my full recognition of the horrors and the disastrous scope of destruction and suffering that has befallen the Palestinian people and others as well in various parts of the Arab world. I have never diminished it nor considered it to be any less painful than the suffering of innocent Israeli civilians, for examples, or any innocent civilians around the world subjected to terrorism. The key is the indispensable catalyst to a solution. To me, a necessary condition is the elimination of terrorism. By all. If Israel or the US are also committing such acts, let them be unveiled, equally condemned and banned. But terrorism must stop, must be eliminated. The most dangerous person is NOT the one who espouses and commits terrorism. They can be stopped. The most dangerous person is one who allows moral relativism to permit, under certain instances, the use of terrorism. It IS quite simple, really. And, if this is the kind of language or message that makes me hated, then FINE! The hater in this case is making full disclosure, as I have. It’s a good starting point!

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March 17th, 2008, 1:40 pm

 

173. Norman said:

This is a good one,

——————————————————————————–

Olmert: Israel wants talks with Syria
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, addressing a joint German – Israeli cabinet session, on Monday said that Israel is interested in talking with Syria, talks which he said will lead Damascus to break with the “Axis of Evil.”

The session marked the first time cabinets from Germany and Israel have met for joint consultations, and the first time the German government held a joint cabinet session with a country outside Europe. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Olmert chaired this historic joint session.

According to Olmert, Israel has no interest in confrontation on its northern border with Lebanon. As for the Gaza Strip, Olmert said, according to Haaretz, “The government must do everything in order to defend its citizens, and it will do so.” “At the same time,” added Olmert, “it will act to advance the peace process. Negotiations are not a default option for us, we are conducting them because we believe that there is a chance to reach an agreement.”

© 2008 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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March 17th, 2008, 2:08 pm

 

174. Akbar Palace said:

I guess I’ll address you since Zenobia banned me from responding directly…

TOPOV,

This whole issue of being a “go-between” is exciting.

Perhaps it involves gobs of frequent flyer miles and some interesting destinations (all-expenses-paid incl. 4/5 star hotels).

I will do whatever is needed to advance peace despite the lack of formal recognition.

I’m sure Zenobia (is this name a medical or psychological condition?) didn’t mean half of what he has said, and only came off hostile due to the sheer volume of Zionist crimes. Something like that.

Zenobia,

Please let me know what the next step is? Did you want to have another Arab League meeting? Did we want to invite any resistance groups?

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March 17th, 2008, 5:02 pm

 

175. ausamaa said:

TheOtherPointOfVieW

Has anyone told you before that -among other things- you can be very very very boring! Robotic, repetitive, and a cut-and-paste sort of writer.

If someone had, believe them. If not yet, please, please, please CONSIDER the though.

And beleive me, you come across as over entusiastic new junior staffer in the PR section of any Israeli Embassy in an Eastern Eropean country who talks a lot but says nothing of value to people who are not interested in hearing a broken record once again.

Dont take it personal. Well, unless you insist of course….its a free world -outside the areas where you condider to be under the Devine jursidiction of Bush & Co. and the chamions ofv State Terrorism-. OIl, OIl, OIL, Israel and Spread of Democracy!!! You tell us, well that is an addition to our narrow prespectives and humble knowledge. You have really enriched the discussion since you arrived. Or so you think maybe. But again, do us and your self a favor: Do not beleive it.

Cheers

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March 17th, 2008, 5:09 pm

 

176. TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Thanks Ausamaa, I’d try to be less boring in responding to you if I could only undertand what you’re saying; but then again, I think I had figured you out, along with Simohurtta, right from the start. I wish you well.

AP,

I should have known this will come at a price. Careful, lest you get accused of being a money hog and then the accusation acquires an antisemitic undertone. I can just hear the rumblings of someone on this blog getting ready to post something along those lines. But I have to take my hat (tarboush?) off to you. The explanations that came to your from Zenobia are indeed superbly positive. All I managed to do is get yelled at.

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March 17th, 2008, 5:30 pm

 

177. Zenobia said:

Akbar,
i can’t believe that both you and I have been writing on this blog for several YEARS now.. and you haven’t noticed that I am a SHE and not a HE???
shows how much you actually pay attention to anyone else but yourself…
and that is actually my name, thanks.. so look it up if you don’t know what it means… i thought you were such a well informed guy… : )

but no thanks I DID NOT ASK FOR A GO BETWEEN.

in fact, TOPOV, i said NOT to talk to me or ABOUT ME EITHER!…
but you can’t seem to shut up about it! and you can’t seem to not continue to misquote me out of context or paraphrase in the way that YOU hear it… which i really don’t like. just to point out one: I did not say that i find “terror” “justifiable”.
I find it understandable. Which in case you can’t see the distinction…is different.
“Zenobia, it seems to me, finds it justifiable because the perpetrators, and I’m paraphrasing, have no other recourse.
and this is what i did say,

“No, you don’t convince me
and i won’t be convinced by you. Because this isn’t a debate about logic.
this is debate about Values.
and i don’t share your values. Period.
I don’t think these acts that you list under the title of terror are any more morally reprehensible than most other so called legitimate acts of war or violence. so, we don’t agree.
the people who engage in your definition of terror do so, because they use the means at their disposal.. when you don’t have access to an army or a formal mode of war..you will use guerrilla war or whatever you have.
but their desires and motivations are no less important or rational than all the ’states’ and entities with formal means of committing aggression.”

So, from this you may CORRECTLY conclude,that I find the acts of the people you call ‘terrorist’ not justifiable not acceptable.. but the PEOPLE.. (yes, terrorists are actually people)…. no less or more moral than all other aggressors. YES, i AM subscribing to moral equivalence – so you can quote me on that. I provided the the last part about their motivations and the explanation… just to say why i find such violence morally (or immorally as the case may be) equivalent. That is not the same as saying that I support it or excuse it.

But you can also just stop saying that i am even using the word terrorist… as mine. YOU are using this word..I actually don’t even believe in the word. I would eliminate this word from all debate. Ban it. I do not accept your definition because the word has become so over used and its use is the point now… Its purpose is as a word to be thrown upon someone or thing , not its actual definition. It has become a weapon itself.

That is Simohurtta’s point… which you reject. His hilarious dictionary is illustrating how language becomes the means to an objective of justifying violence for some people while condemning it for others. It is about hypocrisy again.
I.E. if you call someone a ‘soldier’- you can’t do certain things to him… and he has legitimacy. If he is defined as an ‘insurgent’ then those barriers are gone and the guy has no legitimacy, …suddenly he is a ‘terrorist’…
if someone is a prisoner… he has rights. but if he is now.. a ‘detainee’…well no rights, sorry.

SO THE POINT WAS ABOUT LANGUAGE. And i still hold my own stand on this. YOU are making your definitions right from the start and defining the debate from your language definitions and from your world view with all its unstated assumptions built into it.
and then…we are not even in the same universe to even have a conversation. And visa versa, I am thinking from terms and a perspective that you also cannot engage with.
this a situation that i am not blaming you for.. it is the reality of this conversation.
We are discovering the difference in our whole value system and frame of reference.

however, i resent the way that you have several times… alluded to how you remain unconvinced and unpersuaded… and therefore.. state or imply that somehow.. those you are debating with must not be convincing enough!..that our logic must be flawed or our arguments unsound.. simply because you aren’t persuaded.
this is false.
actually neither of us will be persuaded…because we cannot change our values or frames of reference… through this type of engagement. Period. and no matter whether the other person uses perfect logic and keeps redefining their terms.. if the other doesn’t change their definitions to match… there will be no change in perspective.
thats it.
There are deep assumptions at stake here… and this kind of pure verbal (not even in person) form of debate does not lend itself to any shift on that level. That is my supreme belief from having been reading and writing here for a long while now.

I just wish you would stop implying that this gulf in perspective is the result of flawed ‘thinking’, as in logic or techniques of persuasion.. or lack of data. Everybody here has plenty of that.

just so you know,,,, nobody here needs your instructions about how to read the comments and figure out for themselves what they think about them…

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March 17th, 2008, 5:49 pm

 

178. ausamaa said:

Why being so stingy with your wisdome? Why single out AP to recieve your precious bits of advice. And I love the subtility/transparency/warning of your advice to AP: If all Fails, try to go at them with the usual anti-semitic stuff. Ha, ha, ha……….

I told you, people got tired of listening to the good ol’ broken record.

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March 17th, 2008, 5:50 pm

 

179. TheOtherPointOfVieW said:

Zenobia,

I’m sorry for having incorrectly paraphrased your position on terrorism. Your explanation is very clear: moral (or immoral) equivalence. Thank you for clarifying.
I also accept your advice for the possibly unnecessary clarifications and comparisons. Finally, I also agree that a verbal exchange here is unlikely to be a solution. I will therefore stop, having expressed as best I could what constitutes “The Other Point of View.”

I thank you again for engaging.

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March 17th, 2008, 9:05 pm

 

180. SimoHurtta said:

Thanks Ausamaa, I’d try to be less boring in responding to you if I could only undertand what you’re saying; but then again, I think I had figured you out, along with Simohurtta, right from the start. I wish you well.

Well TheOtherPointOfVieW you are fast in your conclusions. I criticized your previous “war is peace” comments and referred a list of terms. The list was not done by me.

I consider it is extreme hypocrisy to manage to speak about democracy and USA’s “right” to (other peoples) OIL-OIL-OIL in a same “chapter”. A person who speaks like that doesn’t have the faintest clue what in reality democracy means. Actually if Iraqis want to produce oil via a governmental company, not US companies, it is called democracy. By the way 90 percent of the world’s oil drilling is controlled by state owned companies. If Iraqis want to sell their oil to Chine who pay with hard currency and not to US who pays with “soft dollars” that is called capitalism and free trade. :)

I am always extremely amused how you pro-Bush / Israeli supporters manage to turn yourself as victims in a debate where you can’t any more give good answers. In the end you always take out the anti-Semitism card and in “desperate” situations the Holocaust. In your view it is allowed to speak about

* bad Iranians and Arabs nukes, but not about the Israeli nukes
* the security needs of the “weak” Israelis, but not about the others security needs despite Israel has been the aggressor in most (numerous) cases
* the religious extremisms in Muslim countries, but not about the ever growing religious extremism in Israel (and in USA)
* democracy needs in Arab countries, but not about the serious problems in religious apartheid “democracy” called Israel
* the terrorism by Palestinians and Hizbollah, but not about the terrorism by Israelis before independence and later on the occupied areas
* about “good” US foreign policy, but not about the contradiction between speeches and action on the field
ETC

I see that it is mildly said hypocritical. Israel and USA are the “victims” in Middle East as little as for example China and Chinese in Tibet. Israel is a reality. But the only thing that in the end is a real danger for Israel (and for USA), is only Israel itself. How it behaves and what it has became. If you kick your neighbour’s but you also have to be ready for resistance. If you have nukes and other “political” weapons, it is only natural that the neighbour also wants them to neutralize the threat.

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March 18th, 2008, 8:07 am

 

181. Akbar Palace said:

Zenobia said:

Akbar,
i can’t believe that both you and I have been writing on this blog for several YEARS now.. and you haven’t noticed that I am a SHE and not a HE???
shows how much you actually pay attention to anyone else but yourself…
and that is actually my name, thanks.. so look it up if you don’t know what it means… i thought you were such a well informed guy… : )

Apologies Zenobia. I’m a busy Zionist supporter, and I sometimes fail to “read between the lines”.

but no thanks I DID NOT ASK FOR A GO BETWEEN.

I know, I was joking.

this is debate about Values. and i don’t share your values. Period.

OK.

I don’t think these acts that you list under the title of terror are any more morally reprehensible than most other so called legitimate acts of war or violence. so, we don’t agree.

the people who engage in your definition of terror do so, because they use the means at their disposal.. when you don’t have access to an army or a formal mode of war..you will use guerrilla war or whatever you have.

I could go on for pages in response to this, but I don’t have the time.

So, from this you may CORRECTLY conclude,that I find the acts of the people you call ‘terrorist’ not justifiable not acceptable.. but the PEOPLE.. (yes, terrorists are actually people)…. no less or more moral than all other aggressors. YES, i AM subscribing to moral equivalence – so you can quote me on that. I provided the the last part about their motivations and the explanation… just to say why i find such violence morally (or immorally as the case may be) equivalent. That is not the same as saying that I support it or excuse it.

Zenobia,

I am sorry about the Palestinian people and what they have suffered, but at what point will the terror stop? Have you asked any Palestinians about this? Will it stop once an agreement is reached? If Arafat accepted the Camp David proposals would the conflict really end, or would Hamas continue jihad? If Hamas were continue shelling Israeli towns after an agreement was signed, would you then consider it “terrorism”?

But you can also just stop saying that i am even using the word terrorist… as mine. YOU are using this word..I actually don’t even believe in the word. I would eliminate this word from all debate. Ban it. I do not accept your definition because the word has become so over used and its use is the point now… Its purpose is as a word to be thrown upon someone or thing , not its actual definition. It has become a weapon itself.

I hear you, but I don’t agree with you. At some point there is warranted self-defense, and at some point there is unwarranted murder/terrorism. I’m sorry you refuse to see the difference.

That is Simohurtta’s point… which you reject. His hilarious dictionary is illustrating how language becomes the means to an objective of justifying violence for some people while condemning it for others. It is about hypocrisy again.

Dictionaries are used to define words. Words are used to communicate ideas.

We are discovering the difference in our whole value system and frame of reference.

Tell me more about your “value system”. Let’s see, the Palestinians can do whatever they want because they are “oppressed”. Conversely, whatever the Israelis do in self-defense is illegal because they “stole” arab land. Am I close?

actually neither of us will be persuaded…because we cannot change our values or frames of reference… through this type of engagement. Period.

You’re probably right.

just so you know,,,, nobody here needs your instructions about how to read the comments and figure out for themselves what they think about them…

I never tell people what to say or think, I usually:

a.) Counter “factual” information with opposing facts

b.) Ask questions or play “devil’s advocate” in order to show discrepancies/inconsistencies in thinking.

AP

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March 18th, 2008, 11:23 am

 

182. Zenobia said:

hi Akbar,
actually that whole second part was directed at TOPOV not you; i wasn’t saying that you instructed anyone. but fine.

anyhow, i am wore out now with this difficult subject for now.

suffice it to say, it doesn’t matter whether i refuse to use the word terrorism or not in terms of what i think of Hamas shelling Sderot etc.
i reject the word because its use tends to prevent or preclude any reflection on what is behind such action, what are the motivations.. on a large scale, what is the history of it… the definition holds only a description of the action or tactic… and the motivation of creating this thing call ‘terror’ or fear… but nothing else. So, it functions to shut any further analysis down.

but I oppose Hamas shelling anybody now and later and regardless of anything that happens or does not happen. I oppose it on moral grounds and I oppose it on pragmatic grounds…it surely doesn’t accomplish anything that they hope it will accomplish.

As for my discussion Values. I would prefer I could come up with a better word. Unfortunately that one is also overused and sort of smacks of the idea of one person having correct values and another not having values or bad values. That is not what i want to say at all.
I am not talking in the terms or on the level of your example at all.
I am talking about frames of reference on a large scale. so, really about how we each approach a perception of the world landscape and the actors in it. For example a view of human nature. Some people believe in good and evil. Others don’t. Some believe the world is a dangerous place, and that all geo-politics and foreign policy etc… is primarily about protection and controlling danger. others reject this assumption. We begin from a point of view that the world in not a dangerous place. Or that it is made up of individuals who actually have universal and common needs and are equally rational at bottom despite what happens in terms of how they go about attempting to achieve those needs.

Another big example is sort of similar to analysis done by the linguist George Lakoff (his book “don’t think of an elephant” is about progressive values and framing the debate in american politics) in which he contrasts ‘conservative’ and ‘progressive’ values in america.
Within this example, conservatives tend to have a paternalistic view of the world. therefore, on any scale you can find this strict father model of approach to social issues and politic.
an example is the idea that because America is strong and successful in so many ways… therefore, it has “a responsibility” to dictate (paternalistically) to manage other countries affairs or intervene in world problems as it sees fit.
A paternalistic frame of reference tends to mean that one believes in punishment or in control by an authority.. whether that is a father in a family, or the government in nation, or a world power over the world.

A non paternalistic view… is perhaps you could say, more maternal.
I am not sure if i want to say that. But it assumes that people don’t need to be controlled through punishment or that they are not primarily motivated by the fear of authority (eg. they will be self-destructive if it meets their needs and even if they will be punished). It may privilege the idea that by feeding (a maternal function) the good in people.. you will influence their ability to be more civil. However, as you can see – this view assumes that everybody is good at bottom….

anyway, this all may sound wayyy out there.. from what you supposed I am talking about. But.. the point is…that one’s political and social views are extensions or are derived out of their underlying deep assumptions about humanity and how human systems. It will influence how you view human motivation and what rights people and governments have. Every situation we evaluate is different, obviously, has its own nuances. But I think we can see how we each begin our analysis with these expectations and assumptions and move from there.

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March 18th, 2008, 4:54 pm

 

183. Zenobia said:

Just to bring it back to the idea that we are on a blog about Syria.

the paternalistic ‘strict father’ model… dictates that if we twist Syria’s arm hard enough and for long enough.. and this also assumes that the nation with more power and authority has a right to do this…. she will eventually submit to that punishment.. and behave the way… the paternalistic nation wants her to.

however, my own view of human nature rejects this entire model. In my view, this will never work. Even if you get submission through punishment and fear of potential violence or by rejections and sanction… it will be momentary. Eventually you just get payback and retaliation to the authority. And as well, any change effected will be superficial instead of being created organically and internally to the society.

I believe that by supporting and feeding what positive aspects of the country and its people have going for it… we will foster growth of the sort we want. And I think the Syrian people have to learn for themselves and decide for themselves what they want their lives and society and governing to be… nobody can dictate it or force it upon them.

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March 18th, 2008, 5:09 pm

 

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