To be fair, the Bush team dabbled in engagement with Damascus after the September 11 attacks, but those efforts were focused on counterterrorism. The goodwill did not carry over into other areas, including Iraq. True to form, the Syrians did just enough on al Qaeda to earn plaudits in some quarters while never restricting the group's ability to injure the United States, its friends, and its interests in the region. For example, Bashar al-Assad never shut down the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq by way of Damascus International Airport.
It's hard to sign up with the folks who seem all too willing to bomb Iran, but like Syria, the neoconservatives have a well-grounded view of the Iranian regime. George H.W. Bush tried engagement (remember "Goodwill begets goodwill" in his inaugural address?), so did Bill Clinton, and now Barack Obama has offered a hand to the clerical regime.