Human Intelligence is the key to Middle East War Prevention

David Ignatius, always well informed, outlines the ‘surprise’ in the West about the renewal of Israeli-Syrian negotiations, and presents the interesting puzzles that still surround the process. He writes:

What’s going on between Syria and Israel? Are the indirect peace negotiations through Turkish mediators that were announced last month for real? I’ve been talking with sources on all sides, and they present an upbeat view of a peace process that has taken many people (including top Bush administration officials) by surprise.

But of course it was a surprise, due to the foolishness of American isolationism and neoconservative ideology of the past eight years that we will pay heavily for well into the future. I have been on the ground inside Syria working on peace since 2005. I can say without a doubt that anyone with intelligence would have discovered how consistent the drumbeat was from Syrians at the highest levels that they were eager for talks with Israel, and interested in cooperating with the United States. Their relationship with Iran is strong but they were driven much farther into Iran’s camp by the utter ignorance of Syria on the part of the United States. Syria has allies in the region who many of us may found to be horrible. But everything is negotiable, and as relationships develop one finds that adversaries can become crucial linkages to others, like Hezbollah, Hamas, and Iran, who have a very problematic record. This is what human intelligence, on the ground, and respectful relations produces, possibilities, new relationships, all the ingredients of pre-negotiations that lead to negotiations. The more of a bridge Syria becomes, the more that it feels safer from American or Israeli attack the greater will be its moderating role in the Middle East. This is the only hope for a more mature and decent American foreign policy.

© Marc Gopin