Saturday, April 07, 2007

The White House Plays Partisian Politics With Foreign Policy

More evidence of the White House's partisan manipulation of relations with Syria emerged yesterday, as President Jimmy Carter told a gathering in New York about his recent request to visit Syrian President Assad. The former president stated:

“I have known President Bashar al-Assad since he was a college student, and I thought it might be helpful if I went and urged him to support the peace process in the Middle East. But for the only time in my life as a former president, I was ordered by the White House not to go.”

The White House has had no criticism of three Republican Congressmen who are currently also visiting Syria. Indeed, one of them – Rep. Darrell Issa of California - sharply criticized President Bush after emerging from his meeting with Assad, something which Pelosi carefully avoided.

Attacks on Pelosi have also now regularly featured photographs of her wearing a headscarf, coupled with suggestions that she is engaged in "appeasement" of Islamic extremists. Joe Conason assesses the attacks in a column at Salon.com this morning. He states:

As for the headscarf, which Pelosi wore while visiting a mosque and a marketplace, there could be no conceivable reason to vilify this natural gesture of respect -- except to excite religious and ethnic bigotry. Women have been covering their heads upon entering certain places for hundreds of years, and so have men for that matter. Nobody complains when an American politician puts on a yarmulke in a synagogue or an American woman covers her bare arms in a cathedral, and nobody should.

No, the war against Pelosi is a rear-guard assault by the White House against moderates and liberals in both political parties who understand that the failed Bush policies have jeopardized American interests and hurt the Mideast peace process. What Wolf and Pelosi have in common is their endorsement of the Iraq Study Group's proposals, which emphasize regional diplomacy, including direct talks with both Syria and Iran. Indeed, it was Wolf who first approached James Baker about undertaking the Iraq report, and who sponsored the legislation that paid for the group's work.

The malice behind these attacks leaves the clear impression that the "war party" is still at the helm in the White House, and that military confrontation with Syria is still given a priority ahead of talking. This belies the president's muddled statements about pursuing a dialogue with Syria.

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