Friday, April 06, 2007

More Republican Hypocrisy

It would be next to impossible to not have heard anything about the right-wing furor over Speaker Pelosi's recent visit to Syria in an effort to begin a dialogue with President Assad, as recommended by the Iraq Study Group and, well, every other thinking foreign policy analyst. The Bush administration and its conservative base contend that even simply talking to Syria (or Iran) undermines U.S. foreign policy, and going so far as to suggest that Pelosi is attempting to circumvent the President's constitutional role as being chiefly responsible for it.

Well, maybe that would be true if Pelosi had expressed different sentiments to Damascus over its policies, but this is not the case. The Speaker condemned Syria's support for terrorists in Iraq and throughout the region, its association with Iran, its destabilization of Lebanon, and its efforts to obstruct the investigation into the Hariri assassination.

But unlike the Bush administration, she understands that constructive dialogue is a critical means of addressing our concerns with Damascus. Dialogue is in no way concession. And it's not as if the Bush policy of non-communication has produced any positive results on the part of Syria or Iran, far from it. The idea that simply talking to them would some how strengthen then more than they have been strengthened by the Iraq war is patently ridiculous. It is also encouraging that Democrats are showing a broader foreign policy vision than just extrication from an unpopular war.

Furthermore, this is fairly trypical of Congressional trips and is in now way some agrandizement of foreign policy power for the Congress. In fact, five Republican lawmakers visited Assad this week, also convinced that the Bush administration's static policy towards them isn't helpful. Where are the conservative attacks on them? More importantly, it is entirely hypocritical for conservatives to attack Pelosi over her trip when, as Think Progress has pointed out, Rep. Dennis Hastert led a delegation to Colombia in 1997, at a time when U.S. officials were trying to attach human rights conditions to U.S. security assistance programs:
…a congressional delegation led by Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) which met with Colombian military officials, promising to “remove conditions on assistance” and complaining about “leftist-dominated” U.S. congresses of years past that “used human rights as an excuse to aid the left in other countries.” Hastert said he would to correct this situation and expedite aid to countries allied in the war on drugs and also encouraged Colombian military officials to “bypass the U.S. executive branch and communicate directly with Congress.”
That sounds much more like an attempt at usurpation than what Pelosi is doing. Indeed, if any Democrat attempted to do this in say, Iran, they'd be flayed alive by right-wing bloggers and the mainstream media alike. This was a despicable action by Hastert, and it would be wrong for Democrats to do anything like that. But again, right-wing hypocrites ignore these facts in their attempt to attack the Speaker in any way they can.

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