Madame Assad Although you wouldn't know it by Washington's refusal to talk with Syria, the country is becoming increasingly important to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. As Leon Hadar argues, the United States should realize that maintaining diplomatic ties with Syria could help Washington advance its interests on many fronts — including Iraq, Lebanon and peace with Israel (read the rest of American Realism and Engaging Syria.) Also if you happen to be in DC this Friday: I'll be speaking on Troop Withdrawal: Looking Beyond Iraq in a forum sponsored by the Independent Institute. I'll be discussing my A Diplomatic Road to Damascus: The Benefits of U.S. Engagement with Syria which will be published by the institute this month.