Monday, October 22, 2007

Pelosi unfairly attacked

Jonathan Gurwitz’ latest column in the Express-News is a partisan screed attacking Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi over matters of foreign policy.
Gurwitz begins with a trumped up accusation that Pelosi created a tempest during her visit to Syria last April:

Pelosi created an international tempest by claiming to bear a message for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, one stating his country was prepared to engage in peace talks with its longtime enemy without preconditions. That would have marked a significant departure from six decades of Israeli practice.
Olmert did not make such a departure, which forced the Israeli Foreign Ministry to issue a clarification that contradicted Pelosi's supposed communiqué.

First, we don’t know what was actually said between Pelosi and Olmert. After her meeting with Assad, all Pelosi said was that Israel was ready to negotiate for peace. She did not elaborate further and has not since. She did not say there were no preconditions or any other such nonsense that would have been a “significant departure” from Israeli policy.
Furthermore, Olmert’s “clarification” afterward did not contradict Pelosi, as Gurwitz implies, but simply reaffirmed these preconditions.
I personally think that Olmert’s “clarification” was brought on at the urging of the Bush administration which was looking for any excuse to undermine Pelosi for partisan political reasons.

Pelosi had, in fact, brought up quite a few of these “preconditions” with Assad during her meeting, accroding to the NYTimes.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her delegation said they had frank words with President Bashar al-Assad and other senior Syrian officials here on Wednesday, pressing the president over Syria’s support for militant groups and insisting that his government block militants seeking to cross into Iraq and join insurgents there.
Delegation members said that they sought to persuade Mr. Assad to distance himself from Iran, and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

So the only real tempest that came from the meeting was that which was drummed up by the rightwing noise machine that had been desperately attacking Pelosi over the Syria trip from the moment it was announced.

That also calls into doubt Gurwitz’ next accusation that Pelosi “glossed over Assad's totalitarian tendencies and his regime's routine violation of human rights.”
That is a highly unfair and partisan charge that is unsupported by the reporting at the time of the meeting.

The rest of the column tries to lay the blame for the timing of the Armenian genocide resolution on Pelosi. The resolution, which Gurwitz admits has merit and should be approved, has come up time and time again only to be knocked down for fear that it would strain relations with Turkey. Apparently, there is never a good enough time to do the right thing in this case. It has once again been set aside due to foreign policy concerns. We are now even more indebted to the Turks than we have been in years past thanks to Bush’s blundering in the Middle East.

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