Engaging Syria and Iran

Ali Khan [Washburn University School of Law]: "Making a sensible reversal, the Bush Administration has decided to negotiate with Syria and Iran, the two Muslim nations of the so-called Axis of Evil. (The US is already talking to North Korea, the third nation of the Axis).

This policy reversal is in line with the letter and spirit of the UN Charter that urges nations to resolve all outstanding disputes through negotiation, conciliation, mediation, and other peaceful methods. The policy of invasions and threats of force in international relations is unlawful. It has also failed to achieve satisfying results. The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq have been utter disasters and the threats of force to North Korea and Iran have hardened these nations to pursue nuclear weapons. (Covert threats even to Pakistan have emboldened this ally to say 'no' to a proposed policy of murder and destruction in the tribal areas, which would destabilize Pakistan more than it would eliminate terrorists.)

The US policymakers must realize that the use of force has limited utility. Dealing with Muslim nations will be easier if they are respected and consulted. The Bush Administration must abandon the fallacious "neoconservative thesis" that Muslim nations understand nothing but the logic of bloodshed.

Muslim Iran is a sophisticated nation, the author of a long history and a proud civilization. So is Syria. The US cannot reduce Iran and Syria to "dangerous and irresponsible regimes." Such characterizations are contrary to the dynamics of negotiation. The international community will welcome the development that saner heads have prevailed in the Bush inner circle and a decision has been made to shun the rhetoric of evil and undertake the serious business of resolving disputes through good faith and compromise."

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