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Pelosi Is Our Neville Chamberlain

By Ronald Kessler
Posted April 6, 2007

With her trip to Syria, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi achieved two things: She undercut her own credibility in Washington, and she spotlighted what is wrong with the Democrats' approach to national security.

The spectacle of Pelosi making nice with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in Damascus and accepting at face value his claim that he is ready to "resume the peace process" with Israel had a large portion of official Washington tittering.

At the same time, Syrian authorities were telling the local press that there had been no change in its position. And Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Pelosi that "a number of Senate and House members who recently visited Damascus received the impression that despite the declarations of Bashar al-Assad, there is no change in the position of his country regarding a possible peace process with Israel."

Moreover, Pelosi misrepresented Israel's position to Assad, announcing that she had delivered a message from Olmert that "Israel was ready to engage in peace talks" with Syria. Olmert quickly issued a statement denying that.

Even the Washington Post saw through the charade.

"Ms. Pelosi not only misrepresented Israel's position but was virtually alone in failing to discern that Mr. Assad's words were mere propaganda," an editorial in the paper said. The editorial added that "Ms. Pelosi's attempt to establish a shadow presidency is not only counterproductive, it is foolish."

While that is certainly true, the specter of Pelosi naively chatting with Assad and announcing that she had helped achieve a diplomatic breakthrough also highlights all that is wrong with the Democrats' approach to foreign policy today.

Syria hosts the exiled leadership of Hamas, as well as other Palestinian radical groups, and is a major supplier of funds to Hezbollah. Syria is also believed to be involved in the assassination of Lebanese political figures and allowing its territory to be used by jihadists fighting against the United States-led coalition and the coalition-backed government in Iraq.

Pelosi's willingness to undercut the president and accept the word of the chief of state of a sponsor of terrorism is on a par with the Democrats' effort to set a timetable for fighting the war in Iraq. It brings to mind the efforts of Joseph P. Kennedy, the founder of the Kennedy dynasty, to appease Adolf Hitler.

As ambassador to the Court of St. James, Joe Kennedy met on June 13, 1938 with Herbert von Dirksen, the German ambassador. The two got along famously, and Dirksen later reported on the conversation in great detail to Baron Ernst von Weizsäcker, the German state secretary.

According to that report, Kennedy confided to the German ambassador that Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister, was anxious to have some sort of settlement with Germany. By saying this, he undercut Great Britain's negotiating position with Hitler. Moreover, Kennedy said President Roosevelt was not anti-German and wanted friendly relations with Hitler. However, no European leader spoke well of the Germans because most of them were "afraid of the Jews" and did not "dare to say anything good about Germany..." Kennedy stated.

Even as the two met at the German embassy in London, Hitler was planning to gobble up most of Europe and exterminate the Jews. The following year, World War II began after Hitler invaded Poland.

Speaker Pelosi is the Neville Chamberlain of our time," said Brad Blakeman, a Republican strategist who was an aide in the Bush White House. "Cowering to and appeasing the dictator of a terrorist state was a disgrace to the high office she holds. The Sryians used this visit to validate their bad behavior by propagandizing the whole visit and her anti-war stance."

The Pelosi visit underscores that, when it comes to dealing with our enemies, the Democrats live in a dream world. Yet when another terrorist attack occurs in the U.S., they will be the first to say President Bush did not do enough to protect the country.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of
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