Harsh criticism from the normally liberal supporting WaPo today on Pelosi's totally wrong message to Syria from Israel today.
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.
Only one problem: The Israeli prime minister entrusted Ms. Pelosi with 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.
The aftermath of Ms. Pelosi's misspoken publicity statement resulted in making Israel the culprit, and not Pelosi herself. Nice move, Nanc... like they didn't have enough problems before you opened your mouth and assumed credit where no credit was due.
Jordan's Ad Dustur newspaper editorialized, "It must be stated that Pelosi's visit to Syria is a step in the right direction, given the fact that the way of the Democrats to the American presidency is wide open."
But the paper expressed some skepticism about Pelosi's visit, noting that her statement to Assad that Israel's prime minister was ready to hold peace talks provoked a prompt response from Israel that Syria must renounce terrorism first -- an example, it said, of Israel setting further conditions for peace.
While the predictably SF lib article first reports Pelosi with admiration from the Arab nations in general, reading down a few paragraphs further shows not all were pleased, and many saw thru her motives.
Writing in English for Al-Jazeera's Web site, Seifulah Rahim went so far as to describe Pelosi's visit as a "bold end-run around President Bush, to raise her profile as a kind of Democratic prime minister to Bush's Republican presidency."
In a column for the English-language Web site of the United Arab Emirates-based Gulf News, Damascus University lecturer Marwan Al Kabalan suggested that since she is "the second most pro-Israel representative in the U.S. Congress" and with little real influence on U.S. foreign policy, Pelosi's real motives had more to do with U.S. politics than Middle East peace.
"It is reasonable to argue that Pelosi's visit to Damascus was intended to weaken President George W. Bush and undermine his position inside the U.S. rather than trying to bring about a real shift in U.S. foreign policy towards the Middle East in general and Syria in particular," Al Kabalan wrote.
Pollster John Zogby said a reading of other English-language press from the region also gave the sense that Pelosi was being seen as "the anti-Bush."
"That is extremely important, because there has been serious damage done in terms of both the elite and how they view the U.S. and in terms of general public opinion," he said. "The trip is playing, generally speaking, very well in both regions -- both within Iran and within the Arab world."
One notable exception to the overall positive perception of Pelosi's trip, Zogby said, was in Lebanon, where anti-Syrian groups saw Pelosi's visit to Syria as reducing pressure on the Assad government, which Lebanese groups blame for political assassinations in Lebanon and support of Hezbollah's aspirations in the strife-torn nation.
"A very prominent American figure and delegation coming to meet with the Syrian president, that's problematic," he said. "They don't want any legitimation of a regime that they see as being behind the assassination and having been a stumbling block in terms of Lebanese peace and progress."
Nadim Houry, a Syria researcher at Human Rights Watch, and Radwan Ziadeh, director of the Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies, emphasized that criticism in the English-language Daily Star.
"Journalists and commentators will use a lot of ink debating the merits of Pelosi's visit," they wrote. "But one thing is clear. She missed an opportunity to send a strong message to the Syrian authorities that Washington's desire to cooperate with Syria does not mean it will turn a blind eye to Syria's human rights violations."
Mind you, I had no problem with Pelosi's travel to the ME, depending, of course, on what she said and what power she alluded to possessing. Republican Congress members had also visited days before. However what the Republicans did not do was attempt to play diplomatic carrier pigeon.
But what is also apparent is that Ms. Pelosi apparently forgot her own promises and conditions, published only days before in an ABC News article.
JERUSALEM Apr 1, 2007 (AP)— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will tell Syrian leaders when she visits Damascus this week on a trip criticized by the Bush administration that Israel will only engage in peace talks if Syria stops supporting Palestinian militants, Israel said Sunday.
The message came during Pelosi's meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert during the Israel part of her Mideast tour.
"Pelosi is conveying that Israel is willing to talk if they (Syria) would openly take steps to stop supporting terrorism," Olmert's spokeswoman Miri Eisin said. "But at this point the Syrian government, by openly backing terror all around the Middle East, is not a partner for negotiations."
According to a Fox News article, Pelosi's office issued a statement after the bru-haha that she "accurately relayed" the message.
Olmert's office also issued a statement saying it had specified to Pelosi that Israel considers Syria "part of the axis of evil and a party encouraging terrorism in the entire Middle East."
Pelosi's office on Thursday issued a statement saying that she "accurately relayed" the message from Olmert to Assad, which was that Syria must cease its ties with Hamas and Hezbollah, among other things that the Bush administration also is calling for.
The statement also downplayed the reaction by Israeli officials, which Pelosi's office said "sought merely to express that the message given to Speaker Pelosi did not indicate a change in Israel's position toward Syria. The speaker neither said nor implied that this message was a change in Israel's position."
If the presentation was correct, then the press statement she made was not. And instead of coming out with some breathless statement of glowing success, Ms. Pelosi should have kept her mouth shut. For in fact, relations between Israel and Syria remained status quo, despite her appearance.
Another problem I had was the timing... leaving a soon to be vetoed spending bill hanging in the breeze while she traipsed around the Middle East. Delays on the funding bill will, according to Maj. Gerd Schroeder, surely cause setbacks in recent military surge progress. To embark upon travel to attempt changes in foreign policy (outside her Constitutional jurisdiction) while leaving our military in the lurch is unconscionable.
Her determination to meddle in foreign relations - most especially with Syria - is beyond troubling. However it's old news for the Dem party ilk to make overtures to the terrorist supporting nation that has/had direct ties to America's favorite terrorist, Osama Bin Ladin. According to Peter M. Leitner, a (former?) senior strategic trade adviser at the Defense Department, it was the Clinton administration that okay'ed the sale of military grade telecommumiciation equipment to Syria in the 90s. Equipment that well could have contributed to the 911 terrorists' communications slipping under the intel radar.
WASHINGTON -- The dozen or so Islamic terrorists who pulled off the plot to strike at America's nerve centers in New York and Washington spent at least five years researching, planning and coordinating the surprise attacks, U.S. security officials say. And they did it completely in secret, using the world's most sophisticated telecommunications equipment, some secured by advanced encryption technology that most armies don't have.
Where did they get such state-of-the-art, military-related gear?
"The real issue in this tragedy is how the hell were these people able to plan and coordinate such a strike over a period of months without the NSA intercepting their signals?" demanded Peter M. Leitner, a senior strategic trade adviser at the Defense Department.
Leitner, who reviews commercial license applications for exports of some of the most sophisticated military-related technology, thinks he knows the answer.
"The technology that would allow these terrorists to mask their communications was given away, hand over fist, by the Clinton administration," he said in an interview with WorldNetDaily.
Leitner says the previous administration rubber-stamped the shipment of top-end military-related telecommunications equipment to Syria, which is on the FBI's list of sensitive countries that pose a threat to U.S. security.
"Syria is a terrorist-supporting nation," he said. "They provide infrastructure to bastards like [Osama] bin Laden. They provide backup and support and communications abilities to these terrorist cells."
So what kind of gear has Syria -- and likely bin Laden, by way of Syria -- gotten from America?
"We're giving them spread-spectrum radios, which are almost impossible to break into. We're giving them fiber optics. We're giving them a high level of encryption. We're giving them computer networks that can't be tapped," Leitner said.
Spread-spectrum radios, originally designed for military use only, change their frequency constantly.
Thank you Clinton and Albright....
But it appears the inherent bad judgement as it relates to Syria is to be continued by the "new Congress in town" - and quite inappropriately.
As if Pelosi's foot-in-mouth error on the Israeli message wasn't enough, she then traveled to Saudi Arabia where she questioned the lack of women representation in government.
Let's back up a day or so.... This subtle chastising of the Saudis is almost laughable, were it not such a dichotomy of words and recent behavior. Ms. Pelosi, lauded by Michael Savage for having the chutzpah to make a sign of the cross in a mosque in front of a tomb of John the Baptist, managed to effectively negate that action by indulging in the generally mandated wearing of a head scarf by Muslim women. Interesting choice from such a "modern" western woman... especially on the heels of the Dem resurrected ERA issues prior to her trip.
And while so many are quick to equate Pelosi's donning of the scarf to Laura Bush's in a past ME trip, I have to point out the obvious - Laura Bush has never presented herself as a modern feminist, fighting for equality for women. Pelosi never shuts up about her gender and position of power.
Also at cross purposes with this bizarre - yet factually unimportant - wardrobe gesture was Ms. Pelosi's subsequent offhand (and no doubt unwelcomed) observations to the Saudi's on how to run their gov't when she so opposes interfering with foreign regimes in general. Go no....