Jimmy Carter and Joschka Fischer on talking to Syria

Jimmy Carter calls Cheney a "disaster" for U.S and on "wrong side of debate on Syria."

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Wednesday denounced Vice President Dick Cheney as a "disaster" for the country and a "militant" who has had an excessive influence in setting foreign policy.

Cheney has been on the wrong side of the debate on many issues, including an internal White House discussion over Syria in which the vice president is thought to be pushing a tough approach, Carter said.

"He's a militant who avoided any service of his own in the military and he has been most forceful in the last 10 years or more in fulfilling some of his more ancient commitments that the United States has a right to inject its power through military means in other parts of the world," Carter told the BBC World News America in an interview to air later on Wednesday.

"You know he's been a disaster for our country," Carter said. "I think he's been overly persuasive on President George Bush and quite often he's prevailed."

In a newspaper interview in May, Carter called the Bush administration the "worst in history" in international relations.

Carter did have kind words in the BBC interview for U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. "I'm filled with admiration for Condoleezza Rice in standing up to (Cheney) which she did even when she was in the White House under President George W. Bush," Carter said, referring to Rice's former role as White House national security adviser.

"Now secretary of state, her influence is obviously greater than it was then and I hope she prevails," Carter added. © Copyright 2007 Reuters.

Forget victory in Iraq, go for stability  "of all the parties involved, Syria is uniquely positioned to help bring it about"
By Joschka Fischer

The only way out of this dilemma is to set a reachable and realistic goal. Instead of victory, the goal must be a minimum of stability – and this still seems achievable. Indeed, a US military withdrawal from Iraq can be accomplished without causing a major regional catastrophe only if America manages to establish such minimal regional stability. What this requires is a sustainable consensus that includes all the parties involved.

… now the largest and most important power in the world is facing only bad options….

Iraq's future, if it still has any, will depend first and foremost on Iraqi Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds, and, secondly, on Iraq's neighbors and their interests and risk calculations. But even if Iraq does fall apart after US withdrawal, it will be of vital importance to contain the consequences of its disintegration within Iraq's own borders. This will require a regional consensus that only the US can bring about.

It is hard to understand why the US does so little to advance the goal of regional stabilization, especially since it still retains considerable leverage in this respect. As no regional power is strong enough to win a war of succession outright, all of these powers could only lose if a conflict ensues. Indeed, all will be threatened by internal destabilization as a consequence of such a confrontation.

Certainly, talks and conferences make little sense without a coherent policy. But with appropriate preparation, a regional solution is possible, and, of all the parties involved, Syria is uniquely positioned to help bring it about. Syria is the only Arab country allied with Iran, and, as Iraq's direct neighbor, it is crucial for Iraq's stabilization. Moreover, Lebanon's security and independence hinges on Syria, and Syria is one of the main actors in the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Finally, economically and politically, Syria is in a weak position and its interests are by no means congruent with those of Iran.

It's incomprehensible, then, why the US, having succeeded in striking a deal with Libya, vehemently rejects any initiative toward Syria. If Syria changed sides, the situation in the region would be fundamentally transformed. This would be true for Lebanon, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iraq and, above all, Iran.

For Iran, this development would be tantamount to a strategic worst-case scenario, bringing about its definitive isolation. Should it become a realistic prospect, a decisive approach to Iran would make sense. The ensuing "grand bargain" should concern the stabilization of Iraq, Iran's nuclear program, and its role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If successful, the bargain should also aim at a total normalization of relations between Iran and the US.

To be sure, even a decisive regional strategy by the US and its Western partners will not stop terrorism and violence in Iraq or, indeed, in the Middle East overnight. But it would be a decisive first step toward changing the regional balance of power that would enable the stabilization of Iraq and the region as a whole. Only this can make a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq realistic in the foreseeable future.  Continue

Joschka Fischer, Germany's foreign minister and vice chancellor from 1998 to 2005, led

Open Democracy highlights these two articles:

  • Ankara ready to act: With fifteen of its soldiers killed in the last two days by Kurdish rebel fighters – the worst loss of military life since 1995 in Ankara's struggle against the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) – Turkey is more seriously considering an attack on PKK positions in northern Iraq.  A bomb exploded at a ferry station in the outskirts of Istanbul, injuring several people. Similar blasts last week struck the port town of Izmir. 
  • Azerbaijan on board: Political analysts in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, suspect that a recent visit by a top CIA official was part of a wider White House strategy targeting Iran, the country's neighbour to the south.

Comments (15)

Bashmann said:

Prof. Landis,

Mr. Fishcer article ignored a very important factor when it comes to engaging Syria. Maybe the administration knows something about the Hariri killing and awaiting the official outcome from the international tribunal therefore its reluctant to start engagment. Who knows the verdict is still out and ’till the fat lady sings we all have to wait and see..

The news article below is an interesting development;


Brazil court denies Lebanon’s extradition request for fugitive banker

By MICHAEL ASTOR, Associated Press Writer

Associated Press Worldstream

October 12, 2007 Friday 3:54 PM GMT


Brazil’s Supreme Court denied a Lebanese request to extradite fugitive banker Rana Koleilat, accused of a multimillion-dollar (euro) bank fraud and wanted for questioning in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Victor Mauad, Koleilat’s lawyer, said Friday his client is waiting for her passport to be returned and that she had been given eight days to leave the country once it is.

“She doesn’t know where she will go yet, probably some country in Europe,” Mauad said in a telephone interview, adding his client has both British and Lebanese citizenship. “She’s looking for a safe place. She’s worried for her life.”

A statement posted on the court’s Web site said the unanimous decision was based on the lack of extradition treaty between Brazil and Lebanon.

There was no one at the court Friday to comment on the decision because of a national holiday.

Koleilat was arrested in Sao Paulo on March 12, 2006, for allegedly trying to bribe police officers who located her for Interpol. Police said at the time she offered a US$200,000 (euro140,000) bribe for her freedom.

Mauad said she had been acquitted of the Brazilian bribery charges and was released from jail Wednesday. He declined to say where she was staying because she fears for her safety.

In April, a United Nations panel investigating Hariri’s assassination interrogated her for about five hours at federal police headquarters in Sao Paulo, but police did not release any information about the interrogation.

The U.N. commission is investigating what Koleilat knows about February 2005 truck bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others and whether money that disappeared from the Al-Madina Bank where she worked was used to finance the attack in Beirut.

Koleilat has said she knows nothing about the missing money or the assassination.

An initial U.N. investigation into Hariri’s assassination implicated the Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services. Syria denied involvement, but four pro-Syrian Lebanese generals were charged and are in custody. Hariri was seen as an opponent of Syrian influence in Lebanon.

October 13th, 2007, 5:15 am


Nour said:


I hope you don’t believe that the US cares in the least bit who killed Hariri (that’s if they weren’t involved themselves). The US is refusing to engage with Syria not because they think Syria may have killed Hariri, but because this administration is hell bent on fighting wars all over the region and still functioning on the ideology that all countries there must submit by force to Israeli hegemony.

October 13th, 2007, 5:30 am


Bashmann said:


Please tell me you do not really believe what you are saying!!!.

If you think the US was involved in killing hariri then the discussion is over. That is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard. I truly mean it. Give me your reasoning behind it please. Enlighten me as to the motive that the US might concoct such a plan to take out Hariri.

Also please let me know how you arrived at the conclusion that the US through this administration is ONLY interested in wars in the ME?

Please I urge you to indulge me with your reasoning. Looking forward to it.


October 13th, 2007, 5:44 am


ausamaa said:

About the Saudi King Prayers with the Democratic Riffat and KIng Abdullah II who have actually been a cause of the disastor Carter is talking about because they went along -followed quietly- while Cheney was trying to bring his neo-con vision to life.

Actually, Saudies have PERSONALIZED their relationship with Syria since the Harriri assasination. Scinc September 11 to be correct. They also thougt their time had come then. We can understand cazy, opportunistic and impulsive Jumblat, JaJa, Hamadeh and the rest of this tribe in ACCUSING Syria of Murdering Harriri without having any evidence at all. And the evidence have still not been shown two years later. But how can a seemingly supportive or balanced leadership just like the Saudi one used to be called, jump on the wagon and join the accuse Syria crowd of the Harriri murder within days of its happening? Is that Calm, Realistic and Fair? You can accepts dummies doing voicing such accusation, and you can accept Bush and the neo-cons (being an enemy of Syria) jumping on the chance and accusing Syria alone, But Saudi? Egypt? and the rest of the Moderates? We are talking about GOVERNMENTS. What happened to their reasoning powers to commit such stupidities? What happened to beyound reasonable doubt? Did they recive a Vision from God that Syria killed al Harriri within ywo days of his assasnation?

If their behaviour proves any thing, now or before, is that they were part and Parcel of the neo-cons approach to the area, including Clean Break and Creative Instability. They were all along the servants of the neo-cons but in subtle, sly and unapparent manner. WE can fool ourselves by accepting that they are Moderats. In the battle of the survival of their own regimes, they will stop at nothing.
They lured Saddam to attack Iran in the eighties hoping to have Iran and Iraq destriy each other so that they ca become the strong power and lost, then, they Brought in US troops in 1990 to topple Saddam and to defend themselves, and when even that did not work, they brought in the Bush II troops to change the face of the area. To their dissapointment; nothing seemed to work. And they keep getting themselves from one dangerous position to another. And it is obvious that their Anger with Syria is a direct result and is proportional to the degree of Failure that it is facing the Bush and the neo-cons plane. Actually, they are more scared and upset than their Masters.

Moderates my Ass. What have they done with all their money and influence to help the Palestinan People. If not on the political front, then on the human level. The $100 mil or $50 mil they keep donating once in a while is a FRACTION of the extra money they have floating around. What have they done to help Lebanon? Be it with Lebanon’s $ 40 Billion debt or with rebulding the destroyed homes, roads and bridges. What have they done to the three million IRAQI refugees stranded in Syria and Jordan? How much have they donated to that human cause? Let alone what have they done to their own people where poverty and backwardness are still evident in thier backyard?

And I d not know who above who commented that Riffat’s visit is a family matter, for God’s sake. Rifatt has contacted the royal photographers, had them take the pictures, and then sent them through the Saudi “open” media!!!!

Of course it is a message. A message of HALF MEN stupidly playing with fire as they stupidly did and lost before. A message indicative of the growing frustration which thier Masters’ Project is facing in the area. They and their Masters have lost their gamble as they did in the eighties, nineties and they are desperate of the Fauilre that is looming in front of them. And the curtains of that failure are not fully down yet, which is having a heavy toll on their brains and nerves.

They can talk in public, do you expect they can think and strategize in private? They can only follow, and stupidly at that.

October 13th, 2007, 10:11 am


ausamaa said:


Of course the Bush Admin KNOW something about the Harriri assasination. I bet you that they do know a lot but not in the way you meant it.

And pardon me, since when has “seeking justice and truth” been the official policy of the various US administrations? Since the establishment of Israel? since May Lai? Sabra and Chatila massacre by Sharon in 1982? Guantanamo? Allende? even since the destruction of USS Liberty by the Israeli Air Force? Or is it since the “smart” move of supplying Saddam with weapons and Intelligence during his war with Iran? Or since Glasby told Saddam that the US view the Iraqi-Kuwaiti dispute of 1990 as an inter-Arab matter?


Keep waiting for the Old lady to sing!

October 13th, 2007, 10:21 am


Akbar Palace said:

Professor Josh,

It is apparent that you cruise websites and news articles that are:

1.) Against the American presence in Iraq.

2.) Non-supportive of this effort.

3.) Pro-Syrian, and of course, pro-Assad

It would be nice if you were more objective in your selection of articles.

But, I guess, I will be here to refute them. I have a job too;)

October 13th, 2007, 12:39 pm


why-discuss said:

Akbar Palace

You are right to mention that articles that criticize the US policy in Iraq and Israel’s role in the chaos of the middle east are becoming generally more numerous than what they used to be. Do you ever wonder why? Do you know what lobby is manipulating the media?

October 13th, 2007, 4:23 pm


Nour said:


It amazes me how people like you become agitated and adamantly demand evidence when anyone OTHER than Syria is named as a possible culprit in Hariri’s assassination. Yet, you don’t feel that evidence is necessary to not only accuse but convict Syria of this assassination.

I didn’t say that the US killed Hariri, I merely suggested that they do not care who killed him, if they themselves had nothing to do with it. In other words, I merely stated it as a possibility, which it is. The US was looking for a reason to go after Syria and put Syria in its crosshairs, and therefore the Hariri assassination was highly beneficial to them. Now, am I categorically claiming that the US killed Hariri? No, because, unlike you, and the March 14 stooges, I do not makes such conclusory judgments without seeing evidence. But do I think it’s a possibility that the US may have been involved? Sure, why wouldn’t I? Maybe you should look up the story of Aldo Moro, and how recent declassified information revealed that the CIA was actually behind his assassination, almost 30 years after its occurrence.

As for this administration being interested in wars, are you seriously asking this question? Has their behavior until now shown otherwise? Why did the US attack Iraq? Because they had WMD’s? We knew the WMD’s didn’t exist and I guarantee you they knew they didn’t exist. So why did they go to war there? Because of Saddam’s connections to al-Qaeda? They also knew that no such connection existed. So please, explain to me WHY the US would attack a sovereign nation that never harmed the US or any US interest in the world? Why is the US again beating the drums of war? Why does it want to attack Syria and Iran? Why does it use nothing but threats of war to impose its will on everyone else?

You seem more and more like an apologist for the US administration that has the blood of hundreds of thousands of people on its hands. The US has killed millions and millions of people around the world. It has overthrown democratic governments to install its own puppet dictatorships. It has besieged and suffocated whole nations. What exactly in US history indicates to you that the US is incapable of doing what I suggested above? What they have done in Iraq is a crime beyond imagination. Not only has the US killed over 2 million Iraqis, but it has destroyed a whole generation of Iraqis. There’s a whole generation of Iraqis who are uneducated, lost, impoverished, stunted, etc. These are the people that one day have to lead Iraq. How can anyone justify what the US did there? How can anyone with even a slight conscience not be disgusted with the actions of the US?

October 13th, 2007, 7:17 pm


SimoHurtta said:

The New York Times

Analysts Find Israel Struck a Nuclear Project Inside Syria

WASHINGTON, Oct. 13 — Israel’s air attack on Syria last month was directed against a site that Israeli and American intelligence analysts judged was a partly constructed nuclear reactor, apparently modeled on one North Korea has used to create its stockpile of nuclear weapons fuel, according to American and foreign officials with access to the intelligence reports.

October 13th, 2007, 8:07 pm


Akbar Palace said:

Why-Discuss states:

You are right to mention that articles that criticize the US policy in Iraq and Israel’s role in the chaos of the middle east are becoming generally more numerous than what they used to be. Do you ever wonder why? Do you know what lobby is manipulating the media?


I hear these conspiracy theories and complaints all the time. So at the risk of sounding like a broken record, I will repeat my same response.

Americans are more pro-“War on Terror” and more pro-“War in Iraq” than the average American Jew. The best proof of this is that 76% of Jews voted for the anti-war candidate, John Kerry in the last election. Moreover, AIPAC is NOT beating the drum for these wars NOR are the main news media: CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, the New York Times, the LA Times, the Washinton Post, etc, etc. Moreover, the majority party in the US Congress in NOT for a continuation of these wars. Then there are the weekly news magazines: Time, Newsweek, and US News & World Report: all against the war.

Where does that leave us? The minority party: American Republicans. Jewish reprsentation in the Republican party is small. Very small. The vast majority of Republicans are Christian. The only venues where pro-war sentiment is heard is Talk Radio, with personalities like Sean Hannity (Christian), Fox News (Bill O’Riley) and the Washington Times.

All-in all, there are many more anti-war media services than there are pro-war media services. In any case, Jewish opinion toward the war in Iraq is, by far, anti-war.

But if you have evidence to the contrary, feel free to provide it to us. We’re always in a learning mode here on the Syria Comment website for peace.

October 13th, 2007, 8:39 pm


why-discuss said:

Akbar Palace

You were the one who asked why there was so many articles picked by Josh criticizing the Bush policies.
I know that most jewish american were against the war in Iraq (Iraq was not a threat to Israel in any way), but they don’t seem to have done much to stop it and they have not stopped the American Enterprise Institute jewish operators to pep up the WDM campaign that lead to the war. And you know and I know, Israel’s worst ennemy these days is Iran. I would not believe you if you said that israelis and the jewish lobbies in the US are not wishing and hoping that Iran be crushed militarily! They would give a blind eye if Iran is bombed, wouldn’t they? then they will deny they were ever in favor.

October 13th, 2007, 10:24 pm


idaf said:

Syrian President to visit Turkey on Tuesday

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad is to visit Turkey for talks with Turkish top officials on regional issues and matters of mutual interest.

During his visit on Tuesday, al-Assad is scheduled to meet Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ali Babacan.

The Syrian leader’s previous visit to Turkey came four years ago, paving the way for further cooperation between the two countries.

The Syrian president’s trip to Istanbul comes a week after Ali Babacan, Turkeys Foreign Minister’s visit to Damascus, during his Middle East tour.

Al-Assad will be the first foreign leader to visit Gul since he took over as president of Turkey.

October 14th, 2007, 12:07 am


majedkhaldoun said:

Bashar visit to turkey is important for him,turkey is the only neighbor with good term with him, it is good to the syrian people,it opens economic and social relations, it is good for Erdogan,it keeps the army paralized,it is bad for the kurds, infact I do not know how they get their weapons,no one around them support them, it will be easy for Turkey to take over their land,their army is less than 5000, they do not have tanks,planes,rockets,they only know one thing,they know to run away.
the next fall meeting,Bush is planning,will be a failure.

October 14th, 2007, 3:12 am


ausamaa said:

Turkey is good for its PEOPLE that is why it is good with Syria and the Syrians. I hope I can say that for our Arab nieghbours, but there, they care about being good not to thier PEOPLE but to themselves and to their Regimes through being obidient to their true Master.

October 14th, 2007, 8:53 am


why-discuss said:

Turkey has all to gain in turning to the huge arab market for its products since Europe are snubbing it, provoking it with the armenian issue and now the US is doing the same.
If Iran frightens off many arab countries, Turkey’s modern democracy with a growing industrial base could a good partner to arab countries both economically and politically.
Bashar is making a good move: regional power is the key to independence from ex-colonizers and present colonizers..

October 14th, 2007, 2:37 pm


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