Friday, May 16, 2008

Talk and Dialogue

There has been much talk about talk in the news lately, and our insignificant little slice of the Middle East has been the center of much of it, even some ominous talk and “interesting” moves

Yet for all the useless attention we’re getting, most are missing this little truth;

There’s talk, and then there’s dialogue

The two are not necessarily the same. Such a distinction evades otherwise smart politician. He should take heed from those “leaders” of ours, now in Qatar to continue talking past one anther as they had been talking forever. Their talks serve no function other than provide underpaid journalists with a much needed excuse to window shop in Qatar. Yes, Beirut would be more fun, but the yellow rose of downtown has yet to unpack her UNHCR tent.

All this talk about talk misunderstands the real dynamics of the conversation between the United States and the Persians. Before mouthing off about engagement, those “realists” need to consider the persons they are engaging.

Engaging the Seculars

Yes, any engagement or talk requires common ground somewhere, anywhere. In this respect, those who call for engaging Syria may appear to have a leg to stand on. After all, parties like the PSNS/SNSP or Syria’s Baath both have essentially secular motivations that can be addressed and clarified. They can understand the limitations of their power, and they can understand the extent of your interest.

In any case, engagers will find that the players are not using the same vocabulary.

Syria maybe discussing the Golan, but the goal is really Beirut; the regime in place in that country is not Syrian as much as it is a mafia. This, the Americans should know about; after all, they keep cozying up to one member of this family. When Hafez butchered Hama, Rifaat was holding the knife.

However, such discussions are moot. The Syrian Baath party has become infeodated to Iran. As vassals, they have far less leeway in what they can give or take. Better to move the talk upstairs, then.


Engaging the Fanatics

… and as you move upstairs, problems appear that require more than mere “talk” to talk about.

At worst, engagers should expect to move really high up, beyond the plane of mundane matters.

Those nouveau fundamentalists tend to long after non-secular, out-of-this-world goals. As such, they answer to a higher authority. Such irrational players are all over the place; we find them in the ranks of Hezb, Hamas, the nasties around Hariri, as well as some elements of the Gush Emunim and their little friends.

At best, engagers will find that the players are not in the same conversation.

Even if one discounts all the Mullah-speak as sabre-rattling for local consumption, when Iran is talking about Palestine or Hezb, its goal is really more mundane objectives such as the Tomb Islands. This, someone like Obama should know about; he should listen less to the media, and a little more to the guy who came up with the doctrine back then.

It was the “Carter Doctrine”, if I recall

So keep talking.

Whether Billary, O'bama or McCain, the basic interests of the United States will remain the same. The rest is just talk...

Update: (May 17th, 2008): Divine Network

At least, a new Divine Phone company has emerged in Lebanon that can offer its Divine services in time for such Divine Dialogue/talk; it has now secured local calls, and may soon take international. God can call collect, all others, please pay cash...

Not that it will do us any good. Isn't it odd how the winning side learns the wrong lessons from their opponent's mistakes? All too often, victors tend to get stuck in their "mental impasse". Hezb may now be so busy emulating Israel's bulky C3I, that they cannot be bothered with immutable facts of war...

Soon, Divine Llamas?


Anonymous said...

دعا ناشطون في المجتمع المدني "انا اولا انسان" الى اعتصام صامت واضاءة الشموع, استنكارا ل "مجزرة حلبا", الساعة الرابعة من بعد ظهر الاحد المقبل في ساحة الشهيد خالد عدوان في الحمرا - بيروت

Ghassan said...

No matter how hard president Bush (#43) tries he will never be able to sell or rationalize his West point speech that was the height of arrogance and hubris. Unilateralism and preemptive strikes are undemocratic and make no sense.
I am glad that a person that might occupy the most powerful seat in the world will be willing to listen to what others have to say and to deliver a clear message before he starts a bombing campaign. To meet with an adversary might prove to be very valuable especially if that enemy becomes convinced that they are dealing with a principled opponent.

Jeha said...

I agree, with a qualifier; unilateralism may be democratic if you have your voters' backing. But it would make little sense; there are far too many players in this world that to ignore them is simple hubris.

The US risk setting themselves up for an increase of that hubris, unless a reasonable hand comes to the White House. Whoever wins, there is danger; on one hand, there is the hubris of those who think in terms of force, but on the other hand, there is also the arrogance of those who think they can fudge-talk their way around problems.

In the short term, however, we still have Bush's hubris to contend with. And I fear Hezb&Co are only making it easier, while 14 hmar are wandering aimlessly...

Solomon2 said...

Infeodated. I had to look that one up. You spelled and used it correctly. Like how King John made England a papal fief. I'm impressed.