DIPLOMACY FOR BEGINNERS. John Judis has a nice piece about the history and sorry track record of conservatives' odd aversion to diplomacy and liberals' tragic failure to adequately resist it. The upshot is that, specific issues and countries aside, the whole assumption that there's anything to be gained by either de facto or de jure denying diplomatic recognition to other countries is wrong. Having ambassadors in each others' countries and regular talks between officials about matters of common concern is just what countries that aren't actively at war with each other do. The idea that talking to Syria -- not necessarily agreeing with Syria about anything, but just talking so as to explore the possibility of agreement or at least understand what we're disagreeing about -- would meaningfully set back the cause of Middle Eastern democracy is daft.