Friday, August 10, 2007

Part I: Talkin' the Talk

As part of the Jerusalem Post's ongoing 'blog'-coverage of the US 2008 Presidential Race, The Road to the Whitehouse, candidates answer the question:

Which Assad do you believe? The one who threatens war or the one who says he wants to make peace?

Here's what they had to say:

Barack Obama

"So far, the Syrian regime has given all the wrong answers...It continues to arm and assist terrorist groups such as Hizbullah (directly or as a transit point for Iranian shipments)...

It is seeking to destabilize the government of Fuad Seniora in Lebanon, perpetrating political assassinations and instigating acts of violence that could trigger another civil war.

I would engage Syria in direct bilateral talks. We should make plain there are two paths ahead: greater engagement, improved political ties and economic cooperation or greater isolation through imposition of the full range of sanctions in the Syria Accountability Act which will make it difficult for companies and financial institutions that do business in Syria to continue to do business in the US."

John McCain

"...we should be deeply concerned by the ongoing subversion of Lebanese sovereignty by Syria and strongly support efforts to move forward on the investigation of the assassination of Lebanon's former prime minister...

Lasting peace and security in Lebanon must include a democratic government that has a monopoly on authority within Lebanon's borders. That means no independent militias, no Hizbullah fighters, no weapons and equipment flowing to Hizbullah across Lebanon's borders. So long as that is not the case, Hizbullah is likely to further regroup, reconstitute, and rearm.

There is one bottom line: to achieve lasting peace, sooner or later, one way or another, Hizbullah must be disarmed and its patron in Damascus confronted. The US and the international community must face Syria from a position of strength and apply real pressure on the Assad regime to change its dangerous behavior in the region."

Hillary Clinton

"The Syrian regime led by President Bashar Assad is a repressive dictatorship that has attempted to destabilize the Lebanese government...

I supported exerting greater pressure on the Assad regime including co-sponsoring the Syria Accountability Act that passed Congress and placed additional sanctions on Syria. In addition, I have long argued that diplomatic discussions with Syria can aid our efforts to assess and ameliorate their behavior..."

John Edwards

"The Assad regime has not been good for the Syrian people or for the Middle East. The regime continues to be involved in a concerted campaign to undermine the stability of Lebanon's elected government and support Hizbullah's aggression in Northern Israel.

We must approach Bashar Assad's motives with hard-eyed skepticism, but this does not mean we should abandon engagement or the hopes for diplomacy...

We must reengage Damascus today with tough diplomacy aimed at highlighting the costs repeating its illegal and destabilizing decisions of the past and at integrating the Assad government as much as possible into the mainstream community of nations.

I support the executive order signed by President Bush last week that would freeze the property and assets of any parties who attempt to undermine Lebanon's democratically elected government. The executive order was a good step in the direction of using diplomacy and carrots and sticks to support stability and the rule of law throughout the Middle East."

Joe Biden

"Syria is the common denominator of many problems - in Lebanon , the Palestinian territories, and to a lesser extent Iraq .

They are Iran 's closest ally. But it is also a fundamentally weak and isolated regime. We should work to break up its marriage of convenience with Iran. If Syria could be encouraged to act less irresponsibly it could have a real impact in the region."

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