A recent NY Times article highlighted Syria’s return from isolation.Noting that only a year ago it was being “vilified as a dangerous pariah,” today Syria is being thought of as a potential key to regional stability.Much of this change is the result of a new approach by the U.S. in light of the failure of the Bush administration’s policies toward Syria.
Nevertheless, some in the U.S. have argued against this softer approach claiming that Syria’s behavior has not changed and therefore it should not be rewarded in this manner.Those individuals, however, should take clear note of the words of a senior Syrian analyst close to the regime.He states, “There are some here who miss the Bush administration, because at least with them you knew where you stood. With Obama, the American demands have not really changed, but there is an impression of a new era and an expectation of new results from us.”
In other words, the policy goals have changed little, but the words and tone used to communicate U.S. demands have greatly changed.The tough rhetoric of the Bush years only led to an entrenchment in the Syrian position.While some inside Syria are trying to portray this change in U.S. policy as a victory for Syria, the regime is clearly feeling greater pressure than before to alter its behavior. It is a welcome relief that the new U.S. administration understands the value of diplomacy and the benefits that this approach can bring.