TALKING TO THE ENEMY….Should the United States open talks with Syria and Iran? The LA Times has a couple of good pieces on the subject today that are worth a look (here and here). Although they’re ostensibly paired as a Yes vs. No debate, they both offer essentially the same message: negotiation can be a good idea as long as you’re careful, have clear goals, and understand the limitations of what you can accomplish.
I don’t have any big comments to offer about the pieces. I’m just recommending them as decent reading. One thing that I did take away, though, is a renewed sense that the United States could do itself some good by adopting a routine policy of always being willing to talk. Not only would it give us the moral high ground, but it also reduces the inflated expectations that sometimes cause negotiations to run aground (or worse). If the U.S. had a standard policy of showing up at all tables, foreign powers could hardly misread our intentions in specific cases (such as Iraq) as a show of weakness, and domestic audiences likewise couldn’t misread them as a welcome change of heart that promises immediate results. It would just be the United States doing what the United States always does.