Saturday, December 29, 2012

(Reuters) - The international mediator touting a peace plan for Syria warned on Saturday of "hell" if the warring sides shun talks, and Moscow blamed the foes of President Bashar al-Assad for refusing to negotiate.

The mediator and Moscow are correct. US policy is apparently strong backing of the rebels, including their demand that Assad depart before negotiations can begin. This is not sensible and comes from the obsession with Iran and the desire to deprive Iran of an ally. It has nothing to do with the stability of the Syrian government, the region or the welfare of its people. Our real interest lies in discouraging Sunni Moslem radicalism generally by encouraging political-religious pluralism and tolerance. Our politicians, however, are practically immune to constructive criticism from a public or media that is not very concerned with foreign and they use the occasion to act stupidly and they will freely sacrifice that goal to cause Iran even a minor inconvenience.

Also: Do not believe the propaganda that harsh sanctions on Iran are an alternative to war. They are provocations leading to war. This is shaping up as Iraq all over again, except worse. Suppose we implement the harshest sanction we possibly can and Iran still refuses our main demand, which is to stop enriching uranium even if it is used only for electrical power. What then? Do we simply wait for the pain inflicted upon the Iranian people, (in many cases fatal), to cause Iran to eventually give in -- or do we, (while Israel will be undoubtedly egging us on), commit to war as a "humanitarian" sanctions ending policy -- (a variation on "we had to destroy the village in order to save it")? We will, of course, put the blame on Iran for refusing to knuckle under.

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