Friday, April 6, 2007

National Lampoon's Syrian Vacation... Staring: Nancy Pelosi.

So what is the danger with just talking to Syria?

That statement presupposes we are not already talking with Syria. I have found that most folks think that we do not have diplomatic ties to Syria. I mean obviously we must not have ties... isn't that the reason Pelosi is going in the first place? Certainly she can't be confused about the duties of Congress. Obviously she understands the importance of the separation of powers. Is she on a budgetary mission? Is she considering legislation to do with trade or Syrian foreign policy? Are we to expect Justice Ginsberg on a diplomatic visit to Cuba next?

The fact is we do have an Embassy in Syria. She is confused about her duties as a Congresswoman and that of the State Department (the Executive).

So why is she there? Because she needs to appear strong to her base. A base that constantly calls for "talk" and "dialog". After all talking can only help. Can't we all just get along?

So what harm can talking do?

1. If you misquote heads of State you run the risk of deteriorating sensitive and tentative agreements already put in place by professional diplomats. (Pelosi misquoted PM Olmert of Israel in a message to Syria)

2. You can undermine consensus of important world bodies and important world players. This in turn leads to unilateral positions which in turn leads to a loss of credibility. (Pelosi's actions and statements have acted as a wedge in Euro-Euro relations and Euro-US relations.)

3. You undermine the hard work of those professionals that do the actual hard work of international relations. We have diplomatic relations with Syria. If we want to talk to them we do.

4. You embolden those that benefit from unilateralism, undermined allegiances and disparateness. (HAMAS, Hizbollah, etc)

Here is a great blog post spelling all of this out. This is from Anton Efendi's Across the Bay, a blog about Lebanese issues.


Molly said...

Congress goes on "fact-finding missions" all the time. This particular one was at the reccommendation of the Iraq Study group. And if "appearing strong to her base" is her only motivation for going, then that must be the reason that Rep. David Hobson, an Ohio republican went along with her. Should also be true of as Rep. Robert Aderholt, an Alabama republican and Frank Wolf, a Virginia republican who went on a separate mission to Syria. Funny that the White House had nothing to say about any of them going to Syria.
As far as the question "Is she considering legislation to do with trade or Syrian foreign policy?" I would say the answer is a resounding yes. The Bush administration has put "bringing democracy to the Middle East" front and center of it's justifications of the war in Iraq, specifically pointing Syria as a country where dictatorship has "left a legacy of torture, oppression, misery and ruin." (
The vast majority of political analysts agree that the war in Iraq is what prompted the political turn around that took place in the last elections. If our representatives are to do their jobs they should probably be investigating the spread of democracy in the Middle East, particularly in countries that The Chief himself cited.
Does this require them actually going there? Maybe, maybe not. Perhaps they should trust the state department to do their jobs. Though symbolically it's important that some high level officials visit on occasions, and I think the last time that happnened in Syria was Powell's visit in 2003.
Even if you rule out any reason for Pelosi's visit (a possibility I'm entirely open to), there is no justifying the White House's singling out of the lone democrat who went without repremanding any of the three republicans who did the exact same thing.

Benjamin Cook said...

I don't think any of those republicans were Speaker. Yes, I am sure of it. (context matters)

A fact finding mission doesn't include misquoting heads of state. There is a reason we leave diplomacy to the diplomats.

I don't doubt for two seconds that the White House and republicans capitalized on Pelosi's trip. That doesn't detract one bit from any of my points. Could the Pelosi camp have had dubious intentions? Or can the republicans only have crafty schemes and the Dems only altruistic aims?

Anyway, if Pelosi wants to help she can stop undermining and start legislating. Perhaps stop with the sacrificial laws that don't have a snowballs chance in hell of making it past the presidents desk. Perhaps that time could be spent fact finding about heath care, education, etc, etc. Or some effort towards immigration reform. Perhaps she can be better than all politicians on both sides of the aisle and look for solutions that aren't dictated by the party line?

Boy wouldn't that be something!

I will be listening over the next few months for legislation or just lucid insight from her trip to Syria.

My prediction... she won't be able to add to the solution. Her party's position, her base, and her rhetoric will not let her offer any real solutions. The Dem position is retreat. Plain and simple and IN CONTEXT. That position emboldens those that work against us. Ask Hillary what happens when you deviate from the script. Pelosi ain't no Hillary either. She wouldn't last one month working counter to the party line on Iraq. A party line by the way that does not include working with Syria. The Dem party line is protectionist. Protectionism doesn't promote enemy-ally participation. It's axiomatic.

So why did she go? TV time.

Benjamin Cook said...

Well written blog post!