The Neville Awards
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Nancy of Arabia

By The Neville Awards
Posted April 5, 2007

Appeaser, Amateur, Naive, In Over Her Head, Traitor. Those who forget the past (or didn't pay attention in history class) are condemned to repeat it. Say what you will about Nancy Pelosi: never has there been a House Speaker displaying such tone-deaf political skills within six months of taking office. From useless war resolutions, to war funding cutoffs that will get vetoed, to questionable committee appointments, to establishing an alternative presidency with this idiotic trip to Damascus, Pelosi is doing more to undermine the national security of this country than anyone since Benedict Arnold. Her rookie skills were stunningly on display in Damascus.

Consider these remarks:

"We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace. (Can you say 'Peace for our time'?)

She said she expressed to Assad "our concern about Syria's connections to Hezbollah and Hamas". (We feel safer already.)

She said that despite differences over whether to talk with Syria, "there is absolutely no division between this delegation and the president of the United States on the issues of concern." (Of course Rep. Lantos, who accompanied Pelosi said "We have an alternative Democratic foreign policy," Lantos said. "I view my job as beginning with restoring overseas credibility and respect for the U.S." )

Lifetime Acheivement Appeasement Neville Award Winner Jimmy Carter chimed in: "I was glad that she went. When there is a crisis, the best way to help resolve the crisis is to deal with the people who are instrumental in the problem." Carter said there was "no threat" that the Democratic speaker's visit would dilute the United States' ability to speak to Syria with one voice. (Perhaps he didn't hear Lantos' remark)

Pelosi also said she brought a message to Assad from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that Israel was ready for peace talks with Syria. OOPS...Israeli PM Olmert denies ever giving her such a message.

From The Washington Post--Apr 5, 2007:

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."

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.

From The Jerusalem Post--Apr 5, 2007:

Pelosi tells Assad: Israel ready to talk

Olmert, the statement clarified, told Pelosi that Syria's sincerity about a genuine peace with Israel would be judged by its willingness to "cease its support of terror, cease its sponsoring of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad organizations, refrain from providing weapons to Hizbullah and bringing about the destabilizing of Lebanon, cease its support of terror in Iraq, and relinquish the strategic ties it is building with the extremist regime in Iran."

The statement said Olmert had not communicated to Pelosi any change in Israeli policy on Damascus.

Pelosi, who met in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar Assad over the objections of US President George W. Bush, said she brought a message to Assad from Olmert saying that Israel was ready for peace talks.

"We were very pleased with the reassurances we received from the president [Assad] that he was ready to resume the peace process. He was ready to engage in negotiations for peace with Israel," Pelosi said after meeting Assad.

She said the meeting with the Syrian leader "enabled us to communicate a message from Prime Minister Olmert that Israel was ready to engage in peace talks as well."

According to officials in the Prime Minister's Office, however, this was not what transpired during her meeting with Olmert.

The officials said Olmert had told Pelosi that he thought her trip to Damascus was a mistake, and that when she asked - nevertheless - whether he had a message for Assad, Olmert said Syria should first stop supporting terrorism and "act like a normal country," and only then would Israel be willing to hold discussions.

The first part of that message, the officials said, was lost in what was reported from Damascus on Wednesday.

Pelosi said the congressional delegation she led raised the issue of kidnapped IDF soldiers Gilad Schalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev and conveyed "the importance of Syria's role in promoting peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis." She also said she had pressed Assad on Syrian support for Hamas and Hizbullah.

In a related development, Bahrain's Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed al-Khalifa told the Bahrain daily Al-Ayam on Tuesday that the Riyadh Arab League summit set up "panels to communicate with all influential parties, including Israel, to activate the Arab Peace Initiative."

According to the Bahrain News Agency, Khalifa said the Arab League has formed "working teams to communicate with all parties, including Israel, the United Nations, the US, China and the European Union."

He said the team would make contacts with Israel "within a month," and that contacts with Israel would be made by countries "that have ties" with it, while the other Arab nations would contact the US and the EU member states.

A source in the Prime Minister's Office denied knowledge of any working groups that would be calling Jerusalem.

"We still haven't accepted the full initiative," the source said, adding that there would be no formal reply until after the Prime Minister's Office returned from the weeklong Pessah holiday. "But we've never said no to contact."

The Pelosi-Assad meeting, meanwhile, was widely viewed as an attempt to push the Bush administration to open a direct dialogue with Syria, a step that the White House has rejected. Congressional Democrats insist the US attempts to isolate Syria have failed to force the Assad government to change its policies.

Rep. Tom Lantos, the head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who was a member of Pelosi's delegation, said the meeting "reinforced very strongly" the potential benefits of talking to Syria.

"This is only the beginning of our constructive dialogue with Syria and we hope to build on this visit," he told reporters.

On Tuesday, Bush denounced Pelosi's visit to Syria, saying it sent mixed signals to Assad's government.

"Sending delegations doesn't work. It's simply been counterproductive," Bush said.

Last year, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group recommended Washington open talks with Iran and Syria to try to resolve the war in Iraq and other regional crises. Bush rejected the recommendations, insisting dialogue would not bring results. But in February, the US joined a gathering of regional diplomats in Baghdad that included Iran and Syria for talks on Iraq.

"We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace," Pelosi said. She said she and her delegation "expressed [their] concern about Syria's connections to Hizbullah and Hamas," and discussed the issue of terrorists slipping across the Syrian border into Iraq.

"These are important issues not only in the fight against terrorism, but priorities for us for peace in the Middle East," she said.

"These people in the United States who are opposing dialogue, I tell them one thing: Dialogue is... the only method to close the gap existing between two countries," Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem told reporters after Wednesday's Assad-Pelosi meeting.

"Everyone knows there are different points of view between Syria and the United States," he said. "We are happy that Mrs. Pelosi and her delegation had the courage and determination to bridge these differences."
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