I read this only late in the day today, which is why I am late in
circulating it. It says President Assad of Syria is a “corrupt thug.”
That is an amazing statement. If such a statement were made about our
president, a great many people would be upset. On the other hand, I
would wager that a larger percentage of Americans would agree with that
term for our president, than Syrians would agree with that term for
their president. Does that surprise anyone?
What is most embarrassing is that those in charge of the Post editorial
page, and those who own the newspaper (we know who they are, and they
should be doubly ashamed), are so biased that they are a disgrace to
American journalism. I need not tell you what their bias is. It has been
manifest for decades.
Pratfall in Damascus
Nancy Pelosi's foolish shuttle diplomacy
Thursday, April 5, 2007; A16
HOUSE SPEAKER Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) offered an excellent demonstration
yesterday of why members of Congress should not attempt to supplant the
secretary of state when traveling abroad. After a meeting with Syrian
dictator Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Ms. Pelosi announced that she had
delivered a message from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that "Israel
was ready to engage in peace talks" with Syria. What's more, she added,
Mr. Assad was ready to "resume the peace process" as well. Having
announced this seeming diplomatic breakthrough, Ms. Pelosi suggested
that her Kissingerian shuttle diplomacy was just getting started. "We
expressed our interest in using our good offices in promoting peace
between Israel and Syria," she said.
no such message. "What was communicated to the U.S. House Speaker does
not contain any change in the policies of Israel," said a statement
quickly issued by the prime minister's office. In fact, Mr. Olmert told
Ms. Pelosi that "a number of Senate and House members who recently
visited Damascus received the impression that despite the declarations
of Bashar Assad, there is no change in the position of his country
regarding a possible peace process with Israel." In other words, Ms.
Pelosi not only misrepresented Israel's position but was virtually alone
in failing to discern that Mr. Assad's words were mere propaganda.
Ms. Pelosi was criticized by President Bush for visiting Damascus at a
time when the administration -- rightly or wrongly -- has frozen
high-level contacts with Syria. Mr. Bush said that thanks to the
speaker's freelancing Mr. Assad was getting mixed messages from the
United States. Ms. Pelosi responded by pointing out that Republican
congressmen had visited Syria without drawing presidential censure.
That's true enough -- but those other congressmen didn't try to
introduce a new U.S. diplomatic initiative in the Middle East. "We came
in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road
to peace," Ms. Pelosi grandly declared.
Never mind that that statement is ludicrous: As any diplomat with
knowledge of the region could have told Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Assad is a
corrupt thug whose overriding priority at the moment is not peace with
Israel but heading off U.N. charges that he orchestrated the murder of
former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri. The really striking
development here is the attempt by a Democratic congressional leader to
substitute her own foreign policy for that of a sitting Republican
president. Two weeks ago Ms. Pelosi rammed legislation through the House
of Representatives that would strip Mr. Bush of his authority as
commander in chief to manage troop movements in Iraq. Now she is
attempting to introduce a new Middle East policy that directly conflicts
with that of the president. We have found much to criticize in Mr.
Bush's military strategy and regional diplomacy. But Ms. Pelosi's
attempt to establish a shadow presidency is not only counterproductive,
it is foolish.
Robert V. Keeley