Monday, July 24, 2006

The problem isn’t that people haven’t talked to the Syrians


Condi, finally winging her way to the Middle East, says that a cease-fire is “urgent,” but only under the right conditions. So there’s urgent urgent, and then there’s not-so-urgent urgent.

She talked about the need for Lebanon “regaining sovereignty over all its territory”. As in Iraq, sovereignty for an Arab country seems to consist of killing those of its citizens we don’t approve of.

If I may digress, it would be nice if news agencies only put quotation marks around things that are actually, you know, quotations. In the next paragraph I will use the AP version of the second and third sentences of the Rice quote; Reuters (from which I’ve taken the first sentence, which doesn’t appear in the AP story), altered her use of three contractions into more formal English.

Rice wanted to “correct” the notion that the US has no contact with Syria. AP mistakenly summarizes her correction thus: “Rice also said Sunday there are existing channels for talking with Syrian leaders.” In fact, what she said was, “We have talked to the Syrians over and over again. The problem isn’t that people haven’t talked to the Syrians. It’s that the Syrians haven’t acted.” They got the contractions right, but the preposition wrong: we talk to the Syrians, not with them. Never with them.

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