Conservative Liberal

FDR would have been a Republican today.

Appeasing politicians who should know better

This is via Little Green Footballs:

On Christmas Day, Sen. Arlen Specter (R., Pa.) arrived in Damascus for meetings with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and other senior regime officials. He becomes the fourth senator in recent weeks to break an informal travel embargo and visit the Syrian capital, following visits this month by Sens. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.), John Kerry (D., Mass.), and Christopher Dodd (D., Conn.).

When Specter announced his intention to visit, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned to ask him not to go, but the senator refused.

“I deferred to them a year ago, and I deferred to them last August,” Specter told the Associated Press. “If there were any signs the administration policy [in the Middle East] was working, I’d defer to them again.”

But is blind engagement any better? Specter’s trip was his 16th taxpayer-funded visit to Syria since 1984. While he may relish the image of statesman, Specter has little but failure to show for his efforts.

On each trip, Syria’s state-controlled television broadcast Specter’s meeting with the Syrian president. Specter may believe his words are tough, but the Syrian government twists them to imply endorsement. On Jan. 5, 2003, for example, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported that “the U.S. Senator… voiced the United States’ appreciation for Syria’s positions and efforts aimed at making the Middle East more secure and stable, adding that his country views Syria’s positions as principled and rational.”

On Dec. 26, 2006, Syrian television reported that Specter “stressed… Syria’s pivotal role in the region.” Bolstering the sense of importance and confidence of state sponsors of terrorism does not help regional diplomacy.

For all their travels, the senators who visited Damascus would be hard-pressed to name any Arab dissidents whose freedom they won. When Specter met Assad in January 2003, he did not raise the case of Ibrahim Hamidi, the Damascus correspondent for the London-based al-Hayat daily, whom the Syrian regime had ordered imprisoned just two weeks before for publishing material not cleared by state censors. Today, prominent dissidents such as Aref Dalila, Michel Kilo, Anwar al-Bunni, Mahmoud Issa, and Kamal Labwani remain imprisoned.

Senators conducting their own appeasement-oriented foreign policy that contradicts the policy of the Executive branch is bad enough. But Jewish politicians, like Arlen Specter, should know better.

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January 1, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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