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June 10, 2008

Israeli Diplomatic Method a lesson for Barack? [krakatoa]

The Wall Street Journal describes the process Israel has taken in attempting to open dialogue with Syria, and submits that such nuance has thus far escaped Obama.

The Olmert overture is a classic case study in how to reach out to an unfriendly leader -- as well as when not to do so...

About a year ago, senior Israeli officials say, Mr. Olmert decided that breaking the Syrian-Iranian link was a strategic imperative. Judging there was no way to accomplish that by working through the Israel-haters atop Iran's clerical regime, he decided to reach out instead to the secular president of Syria, Bashar Assad. In short, he sought a dialogue with his enemy.

This was the Olmert message to Syria, Israeli officials say: You have an alternative to friendship with Iran, and it can be good for you. Peace with Israel would translate into commercial relations with the West, international help to achieve real economic development, international respect and an end to enmity with the U.S. The price would be cutting ties to Iran, expulsion of terror groups from Damascus and an end to support for those attacking American forces in Iraq...

So Mr. Olmert decided to find an indirect, and secret, channel to start the process.

Read it all, as they say, for the details on how Olmert threaded the needle to prevent an embarassment for Israel's allies, and avoided the fatal mistake of going into a meeting with an enemy state as a "weak horse", with no preconditions.

WSJ's conclusion:

What are the lessons for Sen. Obama? The Israeli move confirms the value of reaching out to an enemy, which was the gist of the Obama impulse in answering that debate question.

But the Israeli overture also shows that timing is crucial and a clear agenda for any talks essential. It also shows that laying the groundwork to avoid surprises can be a slow and painstaking process.

I find it predictable, but entirely frustrating, that truly dispassionate reporting tends to come from financial sources. Makes one wonder if a journalism degree ought to be loaded heavily with economics credits.

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posted by xgenghisx at 11:19 AM

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