James Baker’s negotiations with Syria and Iran tell a major truth about US policy: it is idealist only to an extent. When they feel the heat, Americans – like any other people – switch from idealism to cynical pragmatism. Israelis who abandoned the South Lebanon Army should not expect much loyalty from the US. Indeed, the US has abandoned quite a few friends: the Hungarians whom the American radio incited to revolt against the USSR, the South Vietnamese, and the Kurds, to name only a few. When expedient, the US has readily sacrificed Israeli interests: in the 1956 war with Egypt, in the 1967 pre-war escalation, during the Camp David, Oslo, and Wye River negotiations, and on many other occasions. The US collaborates with former enemies: ex-Nazis after 1945, China against the USSR, Iraq against Iran, Afghan mujahedeen, and on and on. Now again it’s Israel’s turn to be sacrificed to her Arab enemies for the higher aim of covering up US failure in Iraq.

Syria can do nothing in Iraq. The Islamic fundamentalists active there despise the secular, oppressive Syrian regime. The guerrillas can supply themselves through myriad channels and finance themselves with drugs, rackets, and expropriations. They enjoy Syrian support but could live without it.

Conditioning Syrian assistance in Iraq on US withdrawal means that Syria and Iran want to split Iraq, making it a second Lebanon divided into spheres of influence. Syria has already proved its inability to curtail large scale guerrilla warfare in Lebanon in 1978-82 and will be similarly unable in Iraq. Beside, the Muslim world would see turning Iraq over to Syria, especially at the expense of the Golan Heights, as both a US loss in Iraq and collaboration with the hated Syrians.

The Golan Heights. Never has a victor returned land. Never has a losing aggressor claimed them successfully. Territorial concessions never lead to peace. Devastating wars do.