Monday, April 23, 2007

Mea Culpa, You're right...

Dammit!, I hate when that happens.

Open Thread...

Friday, April 6, 2007

You know somethings wrong when the UsaToday turns against you...

Fri Apr 6, 6:56 AM ET

Democrats in Congress have been busy flexing their foreign policy muscles almost from the moment they took power in January, for the most part responsibly. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (news, bio, voting record) crossed a line this week by visiting Syria, where she met with President Bashar Assad. She violated a long-held understanding that the United States should speak with one official voice abroad - even if the country is deeply divided on foreign policy back home.

Like it or not (and we do not),
President Bush's policy has been to refuse to negotiate with Syria until it changes its behavior. That behavior is malignant. Syria has long meddled destructively in neighboring Lebanon and is widely seen as the bloody hand behind the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Syria has aligned itself with Iran and supports the violently anti- Israel groups Hezbollah and Hamas. It foments violence in Iraq by allowing suicide bombers and jihadists to cross the Syria-Iraq border.
Pelosi surely knew that as speaker - third in the succession line to the presidency - her high-profile presence in Damascus would be read as a contradiction of Bush's no-talkpolicy. No matter that she claimed to have stuck closely to administration positions in her conversations with Assad, smiling photos of Pelosi and the Syrian president convey the unspoken message that while the U.S. president is unwilling to talk with Syria, another wing of the government is. Assad made good use of the moment.

Also along was House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., who said the meeting was "only the beginning of our constructive dialogue with Syria, and we hope to build on this visit." That suggested Democrats are going beyond unobjectionable fact-finding and getting-to-know-you conversation into something closer to negotiations, undermining U.S. diplomacy.

If there's any justification for Pelosi's trip, it is that foreign travel by members of Congress is important. Many come to office with little knowledge of the world and soon need to make important decisions about it. This was starkly evident in December when the congressman Pelosi chose to head the critical House Intelligence Committee revealed that he didn't know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites - knowledge critical to understanding Iraq and the war on terrorism.

The speaker presumably is better informed. Pelosi said she made the trip because the bipartisan Iraq Study Group urged greater engagement with Syria. That argument is strengthened by the fact that Assad also got visits this week from several House Republicans, who defied White House requests they not go. "I don't care what the administration says on this," said Rep. Frank Wolf (news, bio, voting record), R-Va. "I want us to be successful in Iraq. I want us to clamp down on Hezbollah."

But Wolf can travel to Syria virtually undetected. Pelosi has an international profile. That guarantees her heavy media coverage but multiplies the price of a misstep, which she quickly made when she created confusion about how eager Israel is to resume peace talks with Syria. Israel immediately clarified her remarks.

Pelosi's office defended her trip by noting that the "administration's cold-shoulder approach has yielded nothing but more Syrian intransigence." As true as that is, the place for Pelosi to make the case is not in Damascus. It's not up to the speaker to unfreeze relations with Assad.

PMO: Pelosi did not carry any message from Israel to Assad

By Yoav Stern and Amiram Barkat

The Prime Minister’s Office has strongly denied that Israel relayed a message to Syria, accepting its calls to renew peace negotiations.

The bureau responded to questions raised yesterday by a statement made by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, following a meeting with Syrian President Bashar Assad. Pelosi said she had relayed a message from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, to the effect that Israel was ready for peace talks with Syria.

The Prime Minister’s Office was quick to issue a denial, stating that “what was discussed with the House speaker did not include any change in Israel’s policy, as it has been presented to international parties involved in the matter.”

In a special statement of clarification, the bureau stressed that Olmert had told Pelosi that Israel continued to regard Syria as “part of the axis of evil and a party encouraging terrorism in the entire Middle East.”

According to sources at the Prime Minister’s Office, “Pelosi took part of the things that were said in the meeting, and used what suited her.

The same sources explained that the decision to issue a statement of denial stemmed from questions from Israeli and foreign press regarding a change in Israel’s official stance on negotiations with Syria…

The Prime Minister’s Office said: “We have not intervened in the internal debate in the United States and we did not harm anyone. We simply announced what had taken place in the meeting [Olmert-Pelosi] on the basis of notes that are identical to those Pelosi has.” …

Has anyone ever heard of the LOGAN ACT ?