Or if we’re unwilling the match the courage that the Mexicans have shown — and if we just want the Central Americans to follow the same failed strategy — we must launch a serious dialogue here on legalizing, or at least decriminalizing, the drugs. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s better than no solution at all. End the Drug War by Fulton T. Armstrong
Lest Americans think Calderón is marrying electioneering to scaremongering, former president Vicente Fox — Mexico’s first from outside the PRI in 71 years — insisted there may be no alternative but to negotiate with the bosses. Perhaps this stark reminder of the limits of U.S. drug policy, at war or otherwise, will tempt American citizens and elites alike to consider legalizing at least some drugs — lest the United States find itself at war with Mexico’s cartels and the government that legalized them. Gateway Interventions: Drones along the Mexican border, commandos in Central America — the war on drugs looks more than ever like a real war. But do Americans have any idea what they’re getting into?
But Syria is also the strongest—perhaps the only—ally of Iran in a volatile area generally hostile to Persians, especially Shia Persians. Iran had begun to coordinate, with Damascus, construction of a naval base near the Syrian coast this year. If the Syrian government were toppled, the plan could be nixed—which would deepen Tehran’s anger toward the West. Intervening in Syria, one official explained earlier this week, could lead to a “much bigger commitment than we’re looking for.” Tony Badran, an analyst with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told USA Today this week that any forceful action in Syria would be an admission that the longstanding policy of engagement with Syria as a means to rein in Iran has been a waste of time and money. Obama’s Syria Tightrope
Although the United States has been able to leverage its deep ties with Egypt’s armed forces, it has no significant military-to-military relationship with Libya. It also has little economic leverage: For the past fiscal year, U.S. aid to Libya has been less than $1 million, and most of that has gone toward helping the country’s disarmament program.
There is not even a U.S. ambassador at the moment. Gene Cretz, the ambassador to Tripoli, was called back to Washington recently for extended “consultations” after WikiLeaks released cables in which he described Gaddafi’s eccentricities.
“We don’t have personal relations at a high level. As far as I know, President Obama has never even talked to Colonel Gaddafi,” said David Mack, a former senior U.S. diplomat who dealt with Libya.
Libya was a pariah state for much of the past three decades. In 2003, the George W. Bush administration convinced the nation to give up its nuclear- and chemical-weapons programs. Libya also renounced terrorism, leading the U.S. government to remove it from the list of “state sponsors of terrorism.”
But only in 2008 did the United States and Libya establish full diplomatic relations. U.S. struggles with little leverage to restrain Libyan government
It’s not yet clear that the United States will be forced into a corner on the settlements resolution. No doubt American diplomats are still working hard to avoid a vote. But it’s possible that a Council confrontation—and an American veto—will be unavoidable. Obama shuns the Security Council
Of course, there is a third way. You may try to carefully maintain your ties with the current ruler (see Biden above), while offering rhetorical support to freedom of expression, democracy, and human rights. Regrettably, as the Carter administration can attest, that may produce the worst of both worlds. If the ruler falls, he and his supporters will accuse you of being so lukewarm in your support that it was perceived as disavowal; whereas the opposition will dismiss your pious expressions as cynical and ineffectual. The Worst of Both Worlds