Iran and Syria: Meet Monica Crowley
Monica Crowley is not just your average "MSNBC Blonde." She's intense, informed, and extremely bright. Also, she used to co-host a program with former ballet dancer Ronald Reagan, Jr., so she must have a high tolerance for pain.
Recently, Monica was on with one of the more typical -- that is, intellectually challenged -- MSNBC blondes. The subject was the popular one of whether the U.S. should have high-level discussions with Iran and Syria, the ever-popular sources of mayhem in the Middle East.
Jimmy Carter, whose incompetency on Iran may have cost him the presidency in 1980, thinks we should talk with his former tormenter and with Syria. James Baker and his mysterious group reportedly feel the same way.
Monica Crowley begs to differ. She says there's no purpose in talking to the two countries, and she's dead solid perfect in that assessment.
Her point is that negotiations only work when each side has something the other wants.
Crowley asks: exactly why should they negotiate with the U.S. when we have nothing to offer them?
Granted, they have something have something we want: the ability to tone down the Shiite-led part of the violence in Iraq (and, for that matter, in Lebanon). However, we don't really have anything to offer in return.
However, couldn't we offer them "better relations with the West?" They've shown absolutely no signs of wanting such relations.
The liberal Democrats notion seems to be that the Iranians may want to save us from the mental distress caused by viewing the nightly carnage on TV. But since they're major sources of such bloody events, why should they care a whit about American sensibilities?
Basically, the same holds true for Syria, a conduit for terrorists heading for Iraq.
A country can negotiate from a position of power -- or at least from one of equality. However, no such balance exists in relationships with Iran and Syria.
Of course, Iran also wants to proceed merrily with its efforts to develop a nuclear bomb. That rightly scares the U.S. because we believe two bad things could happen: either the Iranians would use it, perhaps against Israel, or they would sell a nuclear device to Al Qaeda types.
Both Iran and Syria want to keep exporting terrorism. We want them to stop, but we seemingly have no way of pressuring them to do so.
It's not precise to say we have no way. We could look back 16 years to way James Baker communicated with Tariq Aziz about what would have happen if Iraq used weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the First Gulf War.
There was no question then if Saddam had WMD. He had them in abundance and he'd used them vigorously against the rebellious Kurds and the Iranians
Essentially, Baker told Aziz the U.S. would respond to a biological or chemical attack with the use of nuclear weapons against Saddam Hussein's homeland.
How is Mr. Baker's spine holding up these days? Intellectually, he knows exactly how to get Iran and Syria to negotiate seriously -- and to make compromises.
As Don Corleone might have put it, to negotiate with the Devil, you need to make him an offer he can't refuse.
Iran and Syria assume the U.S. is a pitiful, helpless giant. It would be highly instructive for both countries to find out that we're not.
As Alexander knew, it's time not for the U.S. to give what it must, but rather to take what it wishes.