By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
February 28, 2007
U.S. Foreign Policy took a decidedly new course yesterday with the announcement of these things:
-The U.S. is entering talks with Syria and Iran.
-The U.S. and North Korea are normalizing relations.
-U.S. Spymasters are talking about a stronger approach toward nabbing al-Qaida in Pakistan.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in testimony on Capitol Hill, said, "I would note that the Iraqi government has invited all of its neighbors, including Syria and Iran, to attend both of these regional meetings."
Rice told the Senate Appropriations Committee that, "We hope that all governments will seize this opportunity to improve the relations with Iraq and to work for peace and stability in the region."
This is a huge turn around for the Bush Administration which labeled Iran and Syria as part of the "Axis of Evil" after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade center and the pentagon. That label, "Axis of Evil," meant that the U.S. broke off all normal diplomatic ties to Iran and Syria.
Restoring diplomatic dialogue was one of the strongest recommendations of the Iraq Study Group headed by Former Secretary of State James Baker and former Representative Lee Hamilton. The ISG reported its findings in December and the seemingly slow response to the diplomatic suggestions has been widely criticized on Capitol Hill.
Meanwhile, North Korea's top nuclear negotiator, Kim Kye-gwan, was on his way to the United States yesterday for talks on issues that a State Department official said would include the first steps toward the normalization of diplomatic relations.
Mr. Kim is North Korea's vice minister of foreign affairs. He arrived in Beijing yesterday and was expected in San Francisco tomorrow. He will travel onward to New York for the talks with the U.S. which will include discussion of normalizing relations, according to State Department sources.
Finally, yesterday, National Intelligence Director Admiral Mike McConnell told the Senate Armed Services Committee it may be time to pressure Pakistan to do more to destroy al-Qaeda.
McConnell appeared along side his top adviser on North Korea, Joseph DeTrani and Lieutenant General Michael D. Maples, U.S. Army, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency.
"Long-term prospects for eliminating the Taliban threat appear dim so long as the sanctuary remains in Pakistan, and there are no encouraging signs that Pakistan is eliminating it," said Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich.
McConnell and Maples are worried about the autonomy of al-Qaida and Taliban operatives in Pakistan after the government signed a peace deal with the tribal leaders of the region, North Waziristan, in September.
News that the U.S. was engaging in talks with Iran and Syria, that the U.S. was about to open talks on normalizing relations with North Korea and that the U.S. is discussing stronger action in Pakistan marked a major breakthrough in the "Long War."
Senator John Warner said, "It's all good news."