In response to a crescendo of criticism from inside the Beltway, as well as overseas by US allies, to the appointment of Ambassador Ford to Syria, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Maura Connelly announced today in a statement. “Having an ambassador in Damascus improves our ability to deliver firm messages to the Syrian government and to articulate clearly our concerns and priorities to Syria. No step taken with Syria comes at Lebanon’s expense,”
We have heard this kind of language before. In fact, when the nomination of Ambassador Ford was made on Feb. 17, 2010, those who wished for better relations with Syria, at any expense, used the argument that nominating Ford will help peel Syria from Iran. Almost one year later, the argument has shifted to “improves our ability to deliver firm messages” because the earlier one failed miserably.
With a more skeptical 112th Congress and Rep. Ileana Roth-Lethinen chairing the Foreign Relations Committee, those in charge of the Syria policy will be, and should be, scrutinized more carefully. Sending Assad a firm message privately, when he is incessantly running amok against US allies and the neighboring countries publicly, only shows the futility not only of the appointment of Ambassador Ford but also of a State Department bent on treating Assad with civility at the expense of US interests and US allies.
There is no doubt that many of the career diplomats at Foggy Bottom understand how Assad takes advantage of this appointment to further enlarge his footprint of terror across the region. Yet, they tend to ignore it in the “hope” their diplomacy can resolve all issues. When it does not, the backtracking becomes someone else’s responsibility and those who, in the first place, helped set-up the failure, wash their hands clean. That is the biggest problem in US Diplomacy: Those who decide US foreign policy at the US State are rarely held accountable. Case in point: Richard Armitage at US State Dept. divulged Plume’s background to Robert Novak but it was Lewis “Scooter” Libby at the VP Office who was wronged and paid the ultimate price.