30.10.08

Public Diplomacy in Syria

I have just returned from 2 great weeks in Syria. I will be posting some detailed observations shortly, but first is this footage from the Q&A discussion of a lecture that I gave to a Think Tank called the Syrian International Academy (SIA). This group invites a group of intellectuals, foreign diplomats, journalists, and people close to the Syrian government (including former officials) each month to discuss political topics.

I was honored to receive the invitation, and to engage in dialogue with this group. It's more than I can say for the likes of Karen Hughes and Dina Habib Powell!

This 10-minute excerpt covers:
  1. US-Syria relations
  2. negotiations with Israel
  3. democracy promotion in the Middle East
  4. defense of American Democracy
  5. anti-Arab comments at McCain rallies

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sir,
Great video and kudos for your diplomacy and leadership in Syria.

I would argue that an election should be considered even if Hamas/hezbolah should win. Why?

Currently, they are merely armed civilian insurgents, but once in power, they become the legitimate government who are responsible and accountable for their actions. Either they will govern with civil results or continue their uncivil attacks. The voters will then judge their effectiveness to provide safety and security. If they choose violent confrontation with another sovereign country, then they put themselves and their country at risk. The voters should be made aware of this.

Like all insurgentcies, they build power by undermining the 'legitimate' government authority, especially by provide the "public interest" functions like police, courts, medical aid, water, eduction and taxation. It is then with this power that they fund their anti-Israel policy aka 'terrorism'.

The likelyhood that the current situation will change without displacing the insurgents is unlikely. The existing government would have to improve their public services to win back public support and undermine the support for the insurgents.

An election would force the public to accept the risk of giving these dangerous insurgents legitimate power or rejecting these tactics in favor of peace, freedom and economy.

Stalling the election for any reason simply encourages those in either camp from ever creating a better situation. Which is what we have now.

Of course, your diplomacy efforts are valuable, and every effort should be made to support the efforts by legitmate government to establish the rule of law, individual rights and economic prosperity, as well as to educate the public on the alternative risks they face in response to the continued export of violence.

Peace in the Middle East will only come when the public ends their support of political violence.