Two things bother me about Nancy Pelosi's recent trip to Damascus:
1. What was she possibly thinking? Was she intentionally trying to harm our country or just too stupid to realize what she was doing? I'm not sure which to believe or which is more bothersome. There are numerous reasonable positions on what might be the best approach to dealing with the Middle East situation, but Congressmen flying around the world proclaming dissident positions is not one of them. Pelosi's trip is comparable to Jane Fonda's trip to Hanoi more than to any true diplomatic mission.
I have to think that Pelosi knows this. She is in a strong position within the Government to influence the debate and to work towards what she believes is a better policy for our Government. But to do this in a responsible manner would not get her on the nightly news and front page. I suspect that she knew her trip was not the best approach for our foreign policy, our nation, or our soldiers, but she decided too overlook this in favor of increased media coverage. Not unexpectedly, Nancy Pelosi has to be added to the scrap heap of endless incompetent leaders in Washington that are concerned about power first, and policy a very distant second.
2. Why the heck wasn't the Bush Administration in Damascus first? Syria has been for years a moderate government in the middle of the Mid East. I'm not pretending that they are perfect (or even close to perfect), but we should be encouraging a strong, authoritative, non fundamentalist Muslim, reasonably economically successful government in the Middle East. We should be building a relationship with the Syrian Govenment, not holding on to the outdated Cold War anti-Syria mentality. Syria is not a significant threat to Israel anymore. The primary threat to Israel is Iran. That's why Syria is important. Since Iraq is likely to end up as an Iranian puppet state, Syria will be on the front line on the fight to prevent Iranian dominance of the whole region. Syria's government is as concerned about Islamic funadamentalist as we are. This is common ground that we need to build on. I didn't read the Iraq Commission report, but I believe they said something similar to this. Why isn't the Bush Administration willing to consider any approches beyond their continuing failed policies?
Is the Bush Administrations unwillingness to listen to or consider alternative approaches enough that I should fly off to Damascus to proclaim my anti-Americanism? No, it's not and it shouldn't have been enough for Nancy Pelosi either.
I am grateful to Jeff for this post. I am more interested in what a media and internet consumer like Jeff thinks, and I am less interested in generating my own words about Nancy Pelosi's cynical stunt.
I agree with Jeff all the way through Point #1. He speaks for me.
We disagree, respectfully and politely, about Point #2. I believe the Bush Administration has been engaged with Syria all along, and is strategically isolating Assad in order to diplomatically pressure him.
I am thankful to know Jeff's thoughts. I wondered how much of the informed public saw this "diplomacy" issue as I did, vs. how much of the informed public disagreed with me. Jeff's thoughts are a barometer.
Next on Speaker Nancy Pelosi's diplomatic agenda: visiting Iran. Seriously. She is heading in that direction, unless a public/media outcry causes her to change her plans. Congressman Tom Lantos, Speaker Pelosi's main foreign policy advisor, said this during the trip to Damascus:
"We have an alternative Democratic foreign policy."
Well! [Sarcasm alert] That's just as the framers designed the Constitution, and just as American voters intended: 535 Congressional foreign policies + the President's foreign policy + the VP's foreign policy! On to Tehran, Nancy and Tom!