Young & Landis Debate Pelosi Visit on Public Radio

Click here to listen to Michael Young of the Daily Star and Joshua Landis discuss the Pelosi visit.  Move the cursor half way through the show to the second half-hour segment to begin with the Pelosi visit and skip the Iran hostage release. Hassan Fattah of the NYTimes and others also join in.

"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi conducts international diplomacy in Syria. Is she undermining President Bush or is it time for a breakthrough?"

Broadcast by KCRW, Southern California Public Radio and syndicated nationally. Here is the show's blurb.

Speaker Pelosi Conducts Her Own Diplomacy in Syria ( 12:23P)

Despite President Bush's objections, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi met today in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  Afterward, Pelosi told reporters she "expressed concern" about Syria's support of Hamas and Hezbollah.  She also carried the message from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Omert that he is ready for peace talks.  Describing the meeting, Syrian cabinet minister Bouthaina Shaaban said praised Pelosi for sending the right message to the Arab people and for coming to the region to "solve problems rather than to launch wars." The meeting–which Syrian officials are calling a "victory"–is being carefully watched in Lebanon. Is Pelosi's international diplomacy in Syria undermining President Bush or is it time for a breakthrough? We hear from journalists in the US and Middle East, historians and policy experts.

Guests:
  • Hassan Fattah: Middle East Correspondent for the New York Times
  • Michael Young: Opinion Editor for the Daily Star
  • Joshua Landis: Assistant Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma
  • Brian Darling: Congressional Analyst for the Heritage Foundation
  • Charles Kupchan: Director of Europe Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations

Comments (19)


1. Alex said:

Joshua,

Perfect!

Actually, almost perfect … 75% of Americans support dialog with Syria, not 70%

: )

Michael Young … what a likable fellow you are. He tried all the old tricks!

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April 5th, 2007, 12:05 am

 

2. Observer said:

I agree with Dr. Landis regarding his analysis of the new role playing in the US and its impact on the region. I lament the fact that Michael Young does not seem to know what General De Gaulle said: big powers have no friends they have interests. He also called the UN: ce machin to indicate that it was created to insure that the big powers divide the world peacefully and to control the rabble in line.

This investigation is no longer credible as report after report do not show any conclusive evidence of the guilt of any one particular party.

I also think that Michael Young lives in a fantasy if he thinks that King Abdullah cares about the playboy Hariri to endanger the security of the kingdom. He will be sacrificied fairly quickly as the KSA tries desperately to salvage what is left of the US debacle.

Finally, no one should underestimate the stubborness of GWB or the cunning of DBC in creating an incident for a second round against HA, Syria, and even Iran. Michael Young and others should have learned from the Israeli offensive this summer that the people of Lebanon that they care so much about were left to receive the full force of the IAF with a veto over any ceasefire by GWB until HA was destroyed. They could not care one bit about the lifes of Lebanese and the destruction of the country.

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April 5th, 2007, 1:25 am

 

3. norman said:

Joshua, good job and to the point , the problem in our Government that they care about their self satisfaction more than the interest of the American people , With Pelosi going to Syria Pelosi is trying to show the Syrian people more than it’s government that the American people do not agree with hostility that the American government is imposing on Syria and the way it is treating the Syrians , The American people interest is with cooperation with Syria for their mutual interest.

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April 5th, 2007, 1:48 am

 

4. Alex said:

An interesting opinion piece from Asharq Alawsat today. It expands on a new Lebanon opinion Poll that confirms the one we wrote about last month here at SC. Aoun lost support but he is still the top Christian leader, M14 have only half the Sunni support,and the Maronites do not trust France or America anymore, and they don’t trust Syria either.

The writer suggests that Lebanon is too unstable to absorb the international tribunal and that the only thing that can save Lebanon is Taif II and Madrid II.

Here is the link

لبنان: الحل في «مدريد ـ 2» و«طائف ـ 2»

لتبرئة السياسيين اللبنانيين من طريقة تعاملهم مع لبنان، يمكن الادعاء بأن مقولة: «ومن الحب ما قتل» تنطبق عليهم جميعاً من دون استثناء. إذ أن تعاملهم مع «الوطن» لم يسمح ببروز معادلة واحدة يتفق حولها اللبنانيون، كما إن مواقفهم المتشنجة أفرزت قرارات شقت الصف اللبناني، ويدل هذا كله على أن كل مسؤول لبناني إنما يعمل لمصلحته الخاصة وليس لمصلحة وطنه، وعلى هذا تتفق الغالبية من اللبنانيين.

ليس صحيحاً أن كل الشيعة اللبنانيين متفقون على بقاء سلاح «حزب الله» كما انه ليس صحيحاً أن كل اللبنانيين الذين يعارضون توجهات وأهداف «حزب الله» متفقون على ضرورة قيام المحكمة الدولية، وليس هذان الموضوعان فقط موضع خلاف بين اللبنانيين، إنما هما الأبرز، ويأتي بعدهما موضوع العلاقة مع سوريا والوجود الفلسطيني المسلح في المخيمات وخارجها، وانتشار فرق أصولية مسلحة هنا وهناك.

المشاكل الخطيرة التي يعاني منها لبنان هي انعكاس لمشاكل إقليمية معقدة، وخطورتها أنها تغطي على مشاكل وأزمات المواطن اللبناني الذي لم يعد يجد حتى نائباً مجهولاً يهتم بواحد من شؤونه اليومية. كل النواب اللبنانيين ضمن تكتلات سياسية، وكل تكتل «اكبر» من القضايا المعيشية ومشغول «إقليميا»!

يقول لي مصدر لبناني، إن البلد متجه إلى أسوأ مما هو عليه الآن، «إذا لم تكن هناك مدريد ـ2 وطائف ـ2».

و«على أمل» أن يتحقق ذلك، تعيش «الطوائف» اللبنانية حالة من عدم الثقة. وحسب إحصاءات مؤسسة «الدولية للمعلومات»، يلاحظ أن نسبة عالية من أبناء الطائفة المارونية لا تثق بأحد: لا بفرنسا ولا بأميركا ولا بإيران وحكماً لا تثق بسوريا.

ويقول لي جواد عدرا مدير المؤسسة: «تشعر الطائفة المارونية بأنها خُدعت من قبل الجميع، ورغم أن الجنرال ميشال عون لا يزال الرقم واحد في الطائفة المارونية إلا انه خسر من شعبيته لا سيما في الأشهر الثلاثة الماضية بعد مسألة الاعتصام الذي اثر سلباً على الاقتصاد والتجارة في البلد».

أما السنّة، وحسب الإحصاءات، فيقول عدرا: هناك نسبة مرتفعة تقارب ربما 50% ليست مع سعد الحريري، إنما ليست مع أي طرف آخر، قسم منها موزع ما بين عمر كرامي، وسليم الحص ونجيب ميقاتي (رؤساء حكومة سابقون)، والغالبية ليست مع احد».

ونصل إلى الطائفة الشيعية، فأثناء الحرب وبعدها كان هناك شبه إجماع يقارب 80% إلى 90% في تأييد «حزب الله» وبدأ الآن يظهر تراجع في تأييد الشيعة للحزب، واكتُشف ذلك من خلال ارتفاع شعبية نبيه بري رئيس المجلس النيابي ورئيس حركة «أمل» الشيعية، ليس لأن بري تفوق في أمر ما، إنما كي لا يقول الشيعي «انه لا يؤيد حزب الله، يتخذ من نبيه بري غطاء» كما يقول عدرا.

كما يتردد في لبنان أن جماعة «أمل» تبدي انزعاجاً ملحوظاً لأن أفرادها خسروا منازلهم في الحرب الأخيرة إنما لم يحصلوا على تعويضات وزعها «حزب الله».

وحسب الإحصاءات الأخيرة، فان هناك نسبة 42% من الشيعة ترى أن إبقاء سلاح «حزب الله» ضمانة وطنية كي لا تقصف إسرائيل لبنان، و15% مع بقائه حتى إيجاد حل للصراع العربي ـ الإسرائيلي (هؤلاء لا يريدون نزعه) و23% مع بقائه للدفاع عن لبنان بالتنسيق مع الدولة، و11% مع تسليمه بعد تحرير مزارع شبعا والأسرى و5% مع إجراء حوار حول نزعه.

لكن مع الاعتصامات التي دعا إليها «حزب الله» لوحظ انه خسر من وهجه، فبدل أن يقول انه صار أداة تغيير في كل المنطقة، انحصرت مشكلته في ساحات بيروت. والأنظمة التي كان يمكن أن تهددها ظاهرة مثل «حزب الله» مرتاحة الآن. ويُظهر هذا من ناحية أخرى، أن لا كبير واحداً في لبنان، فاللبنانيون كما يبنون بسرعة يدمرون بسرعة أيضا.

وحول نزع سلاح «حزب الله» يقول الدكتور بول سالم مدير «معهد كارنغي للسلام ـ فرع لبنان»، «إن القوة الدفاعية التي يملكها «حزب الله» جيدة لأي دولة وهي جيدة للبنان، لأن قواتنا القتالية محدودة، لكن بعد عام 2000 إثر الانسحاب الإسرائيلي، كان يجب أن يندرج سلاح «حزب الله» تحت إطار الشرعية اللبنانية ويكون قرار الحرب والسلم بيد اللبنانيين الممثلين بدولتهم».

ويرفض الدكتور سالم تأجيل قيام الدولة اللبنانية بانتظار أن نتأكد أين تقع مزارع شبعا: «عندها ما من دولة في العالم تسير إلى الأمام فكل الدول لديها خلافات مع جيرانها حول بعض تفاصيل الحدود، هناك السعودية والكويت، الكويت والعراق، العراق وإيران وإيران وتركيا وهذا أمر طبيعي ولا يمكن أن تتوقف الحياة السياسية والأمنية لبلد بأكمله لأن هناك مشكلة في الخريطة على ارض معينة، فهذه تُدرس وتعالج بطريقة أخرى».

ومن سلاح «حزب الله» إلى المحكمة في قضية اغتيال رئيس الوزراء رفيق الحريري.

ويقول لي أحد السياسيين اللبنانيين: «أليس من حدود للبحث عن الحقيقة؟ أنا في بلد لم يجر مصالحة وطنية بعد حرب أودت بحياة 200 ألف إنسان، ونظامي يتفكك ثم يأتون ويطلبون مني أن انشر قوات دولية على الحدود مع سوريا واعقد محكمة دولية، انا لست دولة عظمى». ويقول انه سأل احد الأشخاص: اذا طلبت المحكمة التحقيق مع أمين عام «حزب الله» السيد حسن نصر الله فماذا يحصل؟ فأجابه: «نجري له فيديو ـ كونفرانس»!

ان للمحكمة تعقيداتها الإقليمية وقد تكون أصعب من نزع سلاح «حزب الله»، إذ لا حل وسطاً فيها، إما تنعقد أو لا تنعقد. ويقول الدكتور سالم: «إنها ابيض أو اسود ولو أن البعض يقول، إذا عدّلنا هذه المادة أو تلك نصل إلى الحل الوسط.

عملياً ليس هناك من حل وسط، فعندما تنشأ محكمة وتتلقى تقريراً مطولاً فإما ان تصل المعلومات التي يتضمنها التقرير إلى محكمة ذات طابع دولي أو لن تصل».

ويبدو انه ليس هناك من مخرج لهذه المشكلة. الدكتور سالم «يؤيد قيام المحكمة بالتأكيد» ويضيف، انه في حالة اغتيال رؤساء وزرائنا، وسياسيينا وصحافيينا لا يمكن لدولة تحترم نفسها أو لشعب يحترم نفسه أن يأتي ويقول انه لا يريد التحقيق، لكن يعترف الدكتور سالم بأنها مشكلة، إذ لا يوجد ما يُسمى «قتله قليلاً» والمحكمة ستظهر نتائج قد لا تناسب البعض.

وهذا كما يبدو هو السبب الرئيسي لعدم الوصول إلى تسوية وجرجرة الوضع في لبنان. وإذا كان يمكن إيجاد حل وسط لمشكلة سلاح «حزب الله» بالقول بتأجيل موضوعه مدة سنة، أو إيجاد حل وسط لتشكيل الحكومة عبر التفاوض على عدد وزراء كل طرف، فان لا حل وسطاً للمحكمة. والحل الوحيد إما الغاؤها أو السير بها.

ويقول سالم: «حتى إدخال تعديلات على المواد يعني السير فيها، وليس التعديل هو الحل الوسط، ولا وجود لحكم بـ«السجن قليلاً»، وإذا جرت المحكمة ذات الطابع الدولي وتقدم لها تقرير مطول فالضرر سيصيب الطرف الرافض بغض النظر إذا تم تسليم المتهم لاحقاً للمحكمة أو عدم سجنه، لأن المعلومات الحقيقية ستكشف للرأي العام العالمي، ولا تعود من أهمية للمواقف السياسية». «من هنا، وحتى مع التعديلات فان المحكمة تكون أو لا تكون».

حتى الآن ليس واضحاً ما إذا كان «حزب الله» متخوف مباشرة من المحكمة أو لأن حليفه السوري متخوف منها. إن مصير «حزب الله» مرتبط نوعاً ما بالنظام السوري، خصوصاً أن هناك تحالفاً استراتيجياً بين الطرفين. ولا يريد الحزب وقوع أي أمر يؤذي حليفه. ثم إن أحدا لا يعرف حقيقة ما توصل إليه التحقيق، ويرى الحزب أن المحكمة تقف وراءها الأمم المتحدة التي مقرها نيويورك والاميركيون فاعلون فيها، ويتخوف الحزب من أن يطّلع الأجانب، عبر المحكمة على العديد من الملفات ويقول الدكتور سالم: «انه من دون شك لقيادة «حزب الله» مخاوف عامة من إنشاء محكمة واسعة الصلاحيات وطويلة الأمد. فالمرحلة الأولى ثلاث سنوات والباب مفتوح، وتملك حق التحقيق والسجن وستكون نوعاً من سلطة جديدة في لبنان ولها طابع أجنبي، ولا يرغب «حزب الله»، حسب مفهومه السياسي، في أن يدخل أجهزة استخبارات جديدة عليه».

لقد صار معروفاً أن سوريا لا تريد سماع كلمة «المحكمة»، ونجحت حتى الآن في عدم قيامها عبر حلفائها في لبنان. ويمكن تخيل سيناريوهات لإقناع سوريا بقبول المحكمة احدها شبيه بسيناريو ليبيا ولوكربي، بمعنى أن يجري تحقيق ويتم ايجاد مخرج معين ثم تجري عندها فعلا «محكمة سياسية». ويتردد حالياً في لبنان، انه إذا التزمت سوريا بعدم تكرار عمليات الاغتيال، وإذا اختلف الأداء السوري، وتغيرت سياستها في لبنان، وأخذت مناحي ايجابية، وقدمت دمشق وعوداً تمكن مراقبتها لاحقاً، عندها يمكن الاتفاق على القول: إن الاغتيال وقع، وان المسؤول عنه بعض الأشخاص من الذين تجب محاكمتهم، كما حصل في ليبيا حيث يقبع المتهم المقراحي في احد السجون السكوتلاندية، ثم تبدأ مرحلة جديدة من العلاقات، ويتوقف علاج المشاكل بين لبنان وسوريا بالاغتيالات، بل على الطرفين الجلوس حول طاولة الحوار بمساعدة دول صديقة أو مجاورة وإيجاد صيغة لمصلحة سوريا ولبنان من دون قتل وتهديد مع بناء علاقات على اتفاقات جديدة غير تلك التي تمت زمن الهيمنة السورية على لبنان.

إن لبنان لا يريد شيئاً من سوريا، فيما تبدو سوريا وكأنها تريد كل شيء من لبنان؟

المحكمة استحقاق هزّ لبنان، ولبنان الحالي لا يتحمل كما يبدو محكمة، لكن هل لبنان، كما هو الآن يتناسب مع ما يطمح اللبنانيون في الوصول إليه؟ إن لبنان كشعب وكفكرة ورسالة يتعزز بالمحكمة، لكن لبنان التركيبة الحالية، بصراحة لا يتحمل.

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April 5th, 2007, 5:44 am

 

5. Leila said:

Wow, I published an admiring photo and post on Pelosi in my blog, and a slam at Bush II for his disastrous diplomacy, and Tony Badran dropped by to comment! He’s aggrieved that I would criticize Bush’s diplomacy.

Those neo-con Lebanese are a piece of work…

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April 5th, 2007, 6:48 am

 

6. Habib said:

Read the last paragraph about Pelosi being the highest ranking US official to meet with a Syrian President since 1994.

Didn’t Assad 1 meet with Clinton in Syria right before he died? I think this is bull.

Carter backs Pelosi’s trip, despite Bush’s rebuke
By Dugald McConnell
CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former President Jimmy Carter expressed his support for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Syria, rejecting White House criticism of the visit.

“I was glad that she went,” Carter said Wednesday. “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.”

Pelosi arrived in Syria on Tuesday, in an attempt to open direct dialogue with Syria’s leader, something President Bush opposes. Pelosi also discussed with President Bashar Al-Assad concerns about Syria’s support for militant groups. (Full story)

Bush on Tuesday called the trip “counterproductive” and said it would send mixed signals.

“Photo opportunities and/or meetings with President Assad lead the Assad government to believe they’re part of the mainstream of the international community, when, in fact, they’re a state sponsor of terror,” he said at a news conference in the White House’s Rose Garden.

Carter, however, said there was “no threat” that the Democratic speaker’s visit would dilute the United States’ ability to speak to Syria with one voice.

Pelosi defended her visit, saying her talks with Al-Assad focused only on topics on which she and Bush agree.

“On the issues that we set before the president (of Syria),” she said, “there is no division among us or between our congressional delegation in Congress and the president of the United States.” (Full story)

Syrian cabinet minister Buthayna Sha’ban expressed his support for the visit and said, “Syria stands for freedom and for peace, and so does Nancy Pelosi.”

The Syrian media also praised the visit as a potential breakthrough in icy U.S.-Syrian relations, with the Syria Times calling her a “brave lady on an invaluable mission.”
Effects on the administration

The simple act of visiting the country and capitalizing on a photo opportunity could undermine the Bush administration’s effort to isolate Syria for its behavior, according to Ken Pollack, of the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution.

The Bush administration charges that Syria allows insurgents to cross its borders and attack targets in Iraq — an allegation Syria denies.

While Syria admits it financially supports Hamas and Hezbollah, it denies U.S. accusations that it provides them with weapons. The country has been on the U.S. State Department’s list of terror-sponsoring nations since the list was created in 1979.

Still, despite the White House’s rebuke, Pelosi’s visit could be beneficial for the administration, said Jim Walsh at MIT’s Security Studies Program.

“Every president wants to have complete control over their foreign policy,” he said, “but I think in the long run it’s helpful. The more information flow you have back and forth, the more contact you have back and forth, the greater the chance that you’re going to be able to resolve some of these issues.”

Carter said he recently wanted to visit Syria, in connection with a Palestinian election, but “for the only time in my life, as a former president, I was ordered by the White House not to go.”

Pelosi is the highest-ranking American to meet with a Syrian president since then-President Clinton met with Al-Assad’s father, the late Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad, in 1994.

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April 5th, 2007, 7:28 am

 

7. Akbar Palace said:

Looks like the best friend of Arab terror, Nancy Pelosi, didn’t do much to keep Assad’s trucks from crossing the border to arm terror organizations:

“Associated Press Published: 03.31.07, 17:28

The leading Lebanese daily An-Nahar reported Saturday that Ban told the Lebanese security chiefs that Israel had provided him with “evidence and pictures” of trucks crossing from Syria to Lebanon and unloading weapons.

On Saturday, Ban again voiced concern about the reported arms smuggling.

“There are intelligence reports that arms are smuggled. I am concerned by that kind of arms smuggling which will destabilize the situation in Lebanon,” he said.”

Nothing has changed except now the democrats are giving hope to the terror enablers. History repeats itself.

The West has no will, the terrorists and their supporters do.

Question for Professor Josh:

What does being “Co-Director of the Center for Peace Studies” and being an Assad apologist have in common?

Good luck with your debate!

Akbar Palace.

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April 5th, 2007, 11:01 am

 

8. Atassi said:

It’s nice to see some good images and hear sweet talks originating form Damascus. We are surely witnessing a new policy trend emerging form Damascus and the West.
We are seeing the Doves and Doves pretenders moving to the frontline and the Warmongers \hard-line for both ends pushed to the back row. We can hear the Neo-cons
crying wolves. I wonder what will happen to the Syrian hardliner group!!

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April 5th, 2007, 1:55 pm

 

9. Alex said:

Akbar,

President Carter who knew what it takes to make peace between Egypt and Israel, supported the Pelosi visit.

Also, for those who said yesterday on that radio brodcast that this is simply a case of playing American politics, here is a Republican, American-Lebanese, who also changed his mind …

U.S. Republican meets Assad day after contentious Pelosi visit

By Yoav Stern, Amiram Barkat and Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondents, Haaretz Service and The Associated Press

A visiting U.S. congressman held talks with President Bashar Assad
Thursday, a day after a congressional delegation headed by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sparked controversy by meeting the Syrian leader.

U.S. President George W. Bush has rejected direct talks with Damascus and criticized Pelosi for her visit.

Commenting on Bush’s criticism, California Republican Darrell Issa said the president had failed to promote the necessary dialogue to resolve disagreements between the U.S. and Syria.

“That’s an important message to realize: We have tensions, but we have two functioning embassies,” Issa told reporters after separate meetings with Assad and his foreign minister, Walid Moallem.

Issa, a Lebanese-American who frequently travels to the region, said he and other members of Congress would continue to encourage the Bush administration to engage Syria.

“I have no illusions. We have serious problems to be resolved but we will resolve them,” he said.

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April 5th, 2007, 3:12 pm

 

10. Akbar Palace said:

“President Carter who knew what it takes to make peace between Egypt and Israel, supported the Pelosi visit.”

Alex –

You write well, but your ideas are distorted. I have a bone to pick with you.

A few threads back, you mentioned the Hindawi Affair and the attack on Libya. You mentioned that they were both Mossad-designed plots as if that were factual. And of course, there is more proof showing your conspiracy theories wrong than
correct.

Yes, the liberals give Jimmy Carter so much credit for the Sinai agreement between Sadat and Begin. Comparing Carter’s effort to the time spend with the PLO in Oslo, years with Arafat including Camp David, Taba, etc, it wasn’t much.

Carter did not need to negotiate a fraction of what Clinton, Rabin, Barak and Netanyahu had to.

In short, Sadat wanted peace and the Sinai provided a good natural barrier. Sadat’s addressing of the Knesset will long be remembered by Israelis. We have a loooooooooooong way to go with Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran, and yes SYRIA.

Today, Carter is even being dropped like a hot potatoe even by the most liberal Jews because he has no common sense and he certainly isn’t a fair arbiter. His new book, “Peace not Apartheid” is proof that Carter is a fool. Of course he was one of the worst presidents in US history.

Using his own logic today (about his gleeful support of Pelosi’s ill-timed visit), he should have negotiated with Iran when they kidnapped our embassy personnel. What a jerk.

I guess the only thing Carter is missing is an “honorary doctorate” from the “Zayed Centre for Co-ordination and Follow-Up”;)

Anyway, even the most liberal Washington Post thinks Pelosi’s visit was a mistake:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040402306_pf.html

Alex –

I guess people forgot. Another US delegation visited Assad, including “Republican” and jewish-american Senator Arlen Specter.

His visit was no better than Pelosi’s visit. They were both extremely detrimental to the cause of peace, to human rights, and to democracy. You know, little things like that.

If this sort of stupidity continues any longer, we will have lost everything we gained since Bush took office and embolden those who commit and use terror. I fear some in the US want to return to the days of kissing the feet of Assad like Clinton did (and what did that get us?).

http://web.israelinsider.com/Articles/Politics/10183.htm

The BBC is still reluctant to use the (correct) term “terrorism” in its news articles.

Being politically correct is a difficult job. I wonder what the BBC will do if he comes back headless like in Iraq? Difficult decision, don’t you think?

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6528875.stm

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April 5th, 2007, 3:47 pm

 

11. idaf said:

Young said: “She [Pelosi] can’t visit Damascus souqs like she’s visiting a normal capital in the middle east”!!
I can’t believe the hate and racism in Young’s tone. He can criticize Pelosi’s meeting with Bashar all he wants (although he was not convincing a bit), but it seems that his anger is stemming from the fact that Pelosi was seemingly enjoying her time in Damascus. He’s unhappy about Syria being portrayed in the media as “a country” (with human beings, streets and markets!) and not just a “regime of thugs and a rogue state”! Michael, I hope you scored some brownie points with the folks in Fox News. John Bolton would’ve been proud of you for such comments!

But seriously, day after day it seems to me that Young is living in a fantasy world when it comes to Syria. He simply can’t make a single unbiased piece of analysis on that topic. According to Young, the Arab regimes are still working with the US administration to isolate Syria and that Pelosi’s visit is undermining their successful job! Didn’t he see the sheer satisfaction in everyone’s eyes of the Syrian delegation after the Arab summit? In a press conference on day 2 of the summit, Bashar called it “the most successful Arab summit ever” (for him at least). Al-Arabiya (the Saudi news channel) actually played that clip of Bashar for 2 days! I don’t think that this satisfaction would’ve been there if Arabs in the summit have said to Bashar “these are our rules to have you back in our club” as Young wants us to believe.

Young’s wishful thinking made me laugh loudly when he claimed that Bush’s plans in the ME are successful and Arabs are still working with him!!!! Michael, if the Saudi king (who supported the Iraq war) said on live TV that he now considers the “American occupation in Iraq illegal”, who then in the ME is still cooperating with the “successful US policies” in the ME?!

Contrary to Young’s (and other Lebanese neo-cons) illusions, actually Petrosi’s visit to Syria is sending a very positive message to the Arab street on the popular level. In contrast to the “us against those a-rabs and mozlems” rhetoric that the neo-cons are nurturing, look at signs that Pelosi’s delegation is sending to the Arab world with her visit to Damascus streets. A delegation of an American Christian, a Muslim, a Jew and an Arab-American is visiting the Umayad Mosque and mingling with the people in the heart of the Arab and Islamic world. If that won’t send a peaceful and friendly message to the Arab world then I don’t know what would! Pelosi’s friendly face and humane approaches is exactly what America needs for damage-control between Arabs and Americans. America needs a 100 more Pelosis to change the extremely negative image of the US that Bush and the neo-cons have created in this part of the world. Pelosi’s visit to Syria will definitely enhance America’s interests.

AP, here’s an article by a respected Jewish academic and historian (who’s published extensively on Jewish fundamentalism and Zionism) on the Pelosi visit. He interviewed Bashar few weeks ago. He thinks this visit is not just good for America, but also for Israel:

Syria’s Already Seated At The Table
April 5, 2007
NORTON MEZVINSKY

Norton Mezvinsky, Ph.D., is a CSU professor of history at Central Connecticut State University and is an expert on contemporary Middle East affairs.

The Bush administration is making a big mistake by continuing to refuse to have direct talks with the government of Syria, one of the most important players in the current complicated and costly Middle East tragedy.

Syria is in a critically important position to help improve the present situation in Iraq, to begin a constructive process to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to help Lebanon regain stability. Those three points are in the best interest of the United States and its allies in the area, chief among them Israel.

On March 16, I had a two-hour conversation with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus. It confirmed my belief that the Bush administration should immediately agree to engage in direct discussions with the government of Syria. Further, President Bush should accept President Assad’s recent offer to meet and talk with no pre-conditions.

Numerous members of Congress and the recently dissolved Baker Commission have recommended such talks, focusing on such major topics as Iraq, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Lebanon r. Indeed, some members of Congress have recently traveled to Damascus and have discussed these points with President Assad. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is the most recent member to have done so.

President Bush, however, continues to refuse to engage in discussion with the Assad government until and unless Syria meets certain conditions and demands made by both Israel and the United States. Bush publicly places Syria on the verge of the “Axis of Evil” and refers to it as a state that supports terrorism. The March 10 meeting in Baghdad, at which Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice appeared together with Syrian, Iranian and Iraqi officials, was limited to a narrow discussion of the Syrian-Iraqi border and concluded quickly with no positive result.

At the one and only meeting between Imad Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador to the United States, and a White House official, one of President Bush’s closest advisers, Elliot Abrams, said the administration saw no good reason to “reward” Syria by opening discussions.

The Bush administration’s position is incorrect. It eliminates any possibility of acquiring advice and help from Syria. First of all, President Assad and others in his government know a great deal about Iraq, its people and its culture. As President Assad emphasized in his conversation with me, an unstable Iraq poses a major problem for Syria. Almost 11/2 million Iraqis, for example, have legally come into Syria from Iraq during the past two years, and an estimated half-million have come illegally. Most of them are destitute.

The Syrians are not terrorizing Iraq; they are worried about a terrorized Iraq troubling their country. Assad and his government believe they, if given the chance, could give constructive advice to the United States about what to do in Iraq.

In addition to Iraq, President Assad discussed at length with me his nation’s difficulties with Israel and the present predicament in Lebanon. He explained the value of Syria’s maintaining ongoing relations with Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. He carefully and repeatedly pointed out that trouble and chaos in countries bordering Syria and in the area are extremely problematic for Syria.

His sophisticated grasp of the issues and his rational analyses were impressive. His sincerity seemed authentic. He spoke with great respect about the former President Bush, who allegedly understood Syria’s real concerns. Assad expressed the wish that the current President Bush would become more like his father.

President Assad believes that the United States could play an important role in helping to resolve peacefully the conflicts and problems in the Middle East. From his perspective, the present American approaches are unfortunately not only wrong but dangerous. Realizing that he and President Bush may disagree with each other on certain points, Assad, nevertheless, wants to have the opportunity to discuss them with Bush frankly and to offer some suggestions. Additionally, he wants to explore improving United States-Syrian relations. President Assad is willing to begin discussions with no pre-conditions. President Bush should agree to do the same.

There is nothing to lose and perhaps much to gain.

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April 5th, 2007, 4:45 pm

 

12. ausamaa said:

Ladies and Gentlemen, are you keeping taps; Nancy Pelosi and Jimmy Carter seem to have just been added to the terror network and the axis of evil. By some people!

And Lady Rice now does not execlude a meeting with the Iranian Foriegn Minister (but not the Syrian, so far) during next meeting about Iraq with the purpose of(Please rank the below from 1-6 in order of importance and relevance):

( )- Upstage Peolsi’s

( ) – Desperate to get Iran’s help in getting the hell out of Iraq with minimum dammage (Iran was supposed to be bombed to kingdom come at any moment?!)

( )- A damage control move instigated by the neocons to “highlight” Syria’s irrelevance by appearing to meet Iranians but not Syrians

( )- A diversion to indicate that the time is not right to push for Arab/Israeli peace talks, and any possible Syrian/Israeli peace talks

( )- Manifistation of the total loss of coherence and the utter disorientation of the Bush Admin Salvage (Foreign) Policy

( )- Stopping Iran’s nuclear programme at all costs, even if it means “talking” to them directly about it

A choice of “All the above” is not availlable as the Bush Admin has not proved to be “that” farsighted so far..

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April 5th, 2007, 7:57 pm

 

13. Akbar Palace said:

“… Nancy Pelosi and Jimmy Carter seem to have just been added to the terror network and the axis of evil. By some people!”

Not by me. Pelosi and Carter aren’t terrorists, they’re just dupes of Middle Eastern countries that employ terror. Carter didn’t learn from history or his failed presidency. He failed 30 years ago dealing with the Iranian threat then, and he’s still failing to recognize the dangers of terror now.

“( )- Upstage Peolsi’s”

Pelosi’s visit does not need to be “upstaged”. She screwed up both the US and Israel’s position on the peace process, garndered the scorn of most liberal newspapers, and gave the terror-supporting ME countries mixed signals.

Another liberal failure. It wouldn’t be the first time.

“( ) – Desperate to get Iran’s help in getting the hell out of Iraq with minimum dammage (Iran was supposed to be bombed to kingdom come at any moment?!)”

No one is “desperate to get Iran’s help. Because the Iranians CAN’T help while supporting Islamic terrorism.

“( )- A damage control move instigated by the neocons to “highlight” Syria’s irrelevance by appearing to meet Iranians but not Syrians”

The damage control will be handled in 2008. The democrats WANT failure, because they believe they’ll get the presidency ONLY if the Republicans screw up. The democrats will do what they can to insure American failure. Pretty sick if you ask me.

“( )- A diversion to indicate that the time is not right to push for Arab/Israeli peace talks, and any possible Syrian/Israeli peace talks”

The time is right for Syrian/Israeli peace talks by the actions and deeds of the Syrians. So you’re right, the time is not right to push anything.

“( )- Manifistation of the total loss of coherence and the utter disorientation of the Bush Admin Salvage (Foreign) Policy”

Bush’s foreign policy is fine: confront terrorism, ask questions later.

“( )- Stopping Iran’s nuclear programme at all costs, even if it means “talking” to them directly about it”

World pressure on Iran is making slow progress. And believe me, the Arab states are more concerned than anyone else. There are enough sane people out there to side with the US in the UN on this grave matter.

“A choice of “All the above” is not availlable as the Bush Admin has not proved to be “that” farsighted so far..”

Yes, Bush isn’t far-sighted enough to know that selling Israel out and pleasing the terrorist organizations (and their state sponsors) will bring peace to the region. (LOL)

But Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton WERE that “far-sighted”. I wonder what happened? I have such a poor memory.

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April 6th, 2007, 4:08 pm

 

14. Akbar Palace said:

From Michael Young (Daily Star):

“We can thank the US speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, for having informed Syrian President Bashar Assad, from Beirut, that “the road to solving Lebanon’s problems passes through Damascus.” Now, of course, all we need to do is remind Pelosi that the spirit and letter of successive United Nations Security Council resolutions, as well as Saudi and Egyptian efforts in recent weeks, have been destined to ensure precisely the opposite: that Syria end its meddling in Lebanese affairs.”

Need we say more?

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April 6th, 2007, 9:21 pm

 

15. ausamaa said:

It is that bad, huh? The WORLD is a nasty place to live in !!

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April 6th, 2007, 9:36 pm

 

16. ugarit said:

If the US, France, Israel, and the KSA can meddle in Lebanon’s affairs why can’t Syria? Wasn’t Syria part of Lebanon? 😉

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April 6th, 2007, 10:29 pm

 

17. Rev. Michel Nahas Filho said:

My remarks to Akbar Palace:

Let me see if I understand where you are coming from:
You are probably Jewish, you robably believe Israel should keep the Golan, and if possible, make Deuteronomy 1:7 (urn and take your journey, and go to the hill country of the Amorites, and to all their neighbors in the Arabah, in the hill country and in the lowland, and in the Negeb, and by the seacoast, the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates) or Deutoronomy 11:24 (Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours; your territory shall be from the wilderness and Lebanon and from the River, the river Euphrates, to the western sea.) a reality, right? Isn’t this text that justify Israel’s flag? Aren’t the two blue stripes representing the Mediterranean and the Euphrates?

Well, continuing, as a probable supporter of AIPAC, you probably are against peace with Syria and the Palestinians (remember, those folks that inhabitted Canaan before Moses came, i.e., Exodus 13:17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest the people repent when they see war, and return to Egypt.”)if it means giving back land to whom Israel stole them from!

Oh, yeah, because poor Israel need secure borders (why do you need secure borders if you are in peace with your neighbours?).

Akbar, did I miss anything? You know, one should wonder, would you like, sir, to have a bulling country like Israel on your borders? As Henry Kissinger once said that Hafez Assad told him, “Why should we pay for a crime committed on other continent by other people?” (i.e., the Holocaust).

Have a joyful Pesach, Shalom!

The Rev. Michel Nahas

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April 7th, 2007, 12:43 pm

 

18. Akbar Palace said:

Responding to The Rev. Michel Nahas:

“Let me see if I understand where you are coming from: You are probably Jewish, you robably believe Israel should keep the Golan, and if possible, make Deuteronomy 1:7 (urn and take your journey, and go to the hill country of the Amorites, and to all their neighbors in the Arabah, in the hill country and in the lowland, and in the Negeb, and by the seacoast, the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates) or Deutoronomy 11:24 (Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours; your territory shall be from the wilderness and Lebanon and from the River, the river Euphrates, to the western sea.) a reality, right?”

Yes, I am Jewish. Does that mean I believe that what was said in the Old Testament applies today? Why would you think so?

If you think Jews believe their land, today, includes “the river Euphrates”, then you don’t know Jews.

BTW – I suspect, today, more Arab Muslims believe verbatim their sacred texts than Jews do.

“Isn’t this text that justify Israel’s flag?”

Dear Reverend, there is more to cyber-space than just the Zundel and Hamas websites.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Israel

“Aren’t the two blue stripes representing the Mediterranean and the Euphrates?”

Er, no. Ever hear of a “tallis” or jewish prayer shawl?

“Well, continuing, as a probable supporter of AIPAC, you probably are against peace with Syria and the Palestinians (remember, those folks that inhabitted Canaan before Moses came, i.e., Exodus 13:17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, “Lest the people repent when they see war, and return to Egypt.”)if it means giving back land to whom Israel stole them from!”

Yes, I am a supporter of Israel and AIPAC. Just like most in the US Congress.

I don’t know if you can claim today’s Palestinians are descendants of the ancient Canaanites. Nor could you prove today’s Jews are descendants of the ancient Israelites. However, both the Jews and the Palestinian people identify with the Land, and therefore have a right to live there and govern themselves there.

BTW – If you want to quote scripture, there are many passages where G-d promised this land to the Jews (Abraham, Issac, and Jacob) “for an everlasting inheritance”.

“Oh, yeah, because poor Israel need secure borders (why do you need secure borders if you are in peace with your neighbours?).”

Israel is at peace with Eygpt and Jordan. Israel is still in a state of war with the Palestinians, Lebanon, and Syria. I’m not sure why you would consider a “state of war” to be peace.

“Akbar, did I miss anything?”

It looks like you missed quite a lot.

“You know, one should wonder, would you like, sir, to have a bulling country like Israel on your borders?”

Who is bullying who? Actually the border between Eygpt, Jordan and Syria has been pretty quiet.

“As Henry Kissinger once said that Hafez Assad told him, “Why should we pay for a crime committed on other continent by other people?” (i.e., the Holocaust).”

Tell Hafez Assad that he has only had to pay for the crime of starting a war against a country outside his own borders.

“Have a joyful Pesach, Shalom!”

Thank you.

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April 9th, 2007, 3:04 am

 

19. Rev. Michel Nahas Filho said:

Mr Akbar,

If you do not know, or at least pretend not to, the 67 war on the Syrian front was started by Israel, actually the Galilean settlers that wanted to GRAB Syrian land (i.e. Golan) for agrarian purposes. I recommend you to read Moshe Dayan s memory, publishe by his daughter on eeither the Y.Ahronotot or the Haaretz. Just Google -Golan provocations-.

I know, that REALITY puts your (or Israel s ) eternal victim status on check, but we are who we are, right

I did not grow up in the US, thus I wasn t brainwashed by public school system, media, etc to believe hat Israel was ever a victim.

For me Gypsis, gays, political enemies, asocial, are as victims as Jews, from the nazi regime, but who cares, right

The question for me is not if Israel has the right to exist, but if Israel has the right to exist outside its 67 borders, and the answer to that is a clear NO, it doesn t.

The fact is both US and Israel were surprised by the awakening of (some of) the Arabs that they would never be able to win on American (and Israeli) terms, any war. So they created a new paradigm for war (call it terrorism if you will, who cares). Now imagine US and IL position: spend billions preparing for war, just to find out that they cannot win their video-game-like war by electronic and high tech proxy. They will have to become slightly more –man-ish– and actually face the enemy on the ground, so Lets cry fault play.

Tooooo bad, huh. You (US+IL) planted this, now harvest time is arriving.

Live with it

Peace,
Rev. Mike Nahas

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April 13th, 2007, 11:48 am

 

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