"The heart opens itself to the hope that the misfortunes of the past will be replaced by fruitful dialogue." -- Toaff
It makes perfect sense that members of the new Democratic majority are striking out on their own in an effort to influence our nation's foreign policy and relationship with those nation's identified in the Iraq Study Group's report as key to mediating the differences between the warring factions there. So much of the Bush administration's response to the ISG proposals has been patronizing and dismissive.
The administration immediately rejected the idea of re-engaging the Syrians and the Iranians in talks to urge them to intervene to bring a halt to the sectarian fighting in Iraq, saying, among other things, that "they know what they need to do."
"They need to stop harboring terrorists," presidential spokesman Tony Snow told reporters Thursday. "They need to stop supporting terrorism in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere. They need to stop serving as headquarters for terrorist organizations. And they need to demonstrate goodwill," he said.
It's always amazing to hear the Bush regime complain about other nations "supporting terrorism" in those countries which the administration is actively engaging in their own military muckraking. The U.S. occupation of Iraq is the most obvious hypocrisy where it's more than obvious the Bush regime is the most pernicious outside influence, instigating, creating, and fueling the violence there. Yet, administration officials still insist that the neighboring nations of Iran and Syria are the main antagonists to the civil strife.
Secretary of State Rice ruled out official U.S. talks seeking the help of Iran or Syria, but it's not clear how there can be a solution to the influence from these countries the administration claims they are exerting without talking to them; outside of continuing the heavy-handed militarism which has been the main lever of Bush's foreign policy.
Outside of the quagmire that Bush's militaristic approach in Iraq has fostered, Lebanon was a clear example of the fallacy of the Bush doctrine, which is really no plan at all; save their determination to overrun everything and everyone who stands in the way of their manufactured mandates to expand and conquer across sovereign borders.
The stated strategy of Israel, backed by the U.S., was to provide a deterrence or a disincentive for combatants to attack their homeland. That was to be effected with the demonstration of their military force in Lebanon; shock and awe. The killings of hundreds of Lebanese and the destruction of their infrastructure was apparently supposed to provide the incentive for the Lebanese to abandon Iran and Syrian-sponsored Hizbollah as their provider or protector. Those who were killed or maimed as they were caught in front of the Israeli's military reprisals apparently did not have the power to influence Hizbollah as the Israeli's, and the Bush regime, assumed their deaths would.
That's the case as well in Iraq and Afghanistan. The wanton attacks which envelop masses of innocent civilians in their wake have not made these countries more secure. Rather, these collective reprisals - undertaken as a 'defense' against acts which are clearly indefensible, morally and otherwise - have alienated the very groups and individuals who may have been amenable to joining in a unified effort to disband, disarm, and neutralize the militarized factions.
Sen. Bill Nelson traveled to Syria this week and sat down with President Assad for an hour asking for the Syrian leader's help in managing the partisan conflicts in Iraq. Assad, Nelson said, "clearly indicated a willingness to cooperate." Nonetheless, the Bush cabal reflexively criticized the efforts as "lending (Syria) a further specter of legitimacy" and, "undermining the cause of democracy in the region."
It is an amazing arrogance for the Bush regime to assume that their militarism is the best way to encourage democracy in Iraq or anywhere else in the region. Bush and his cabal, or any of the members of Congress who venture abroad, need to remember that it is the U.S. who is the outside aggressor in Iraq with troops on the ground, not Syria or Iran. The U.S. has toppled the sovereign government of Iraq, not Syria or Iran. It is the U.S. military which is occupying Iraq, not Syria or Iran. It is the U.S. regime who has declared they're intention to remain in Iraq for years, not Syria or Iran.
It has to be a tiny audience who actually buys the U.S. argument that, somehow, Syria or Iran are more responsible for the chaos and unrest in Iraq than the Bush regime's own meddling determination to possess the Mideast nation now that they've "broken" it. In fact, Syria is much more amenable to the new, installed Iraqi regime than they were to Saddam - who they opposed - siding with the BushI regime in the first U.S. bombing campaign against Iraq.
Democratic Sen. John Kerry is presently traveling in the Mideast, meeting with Egyptian leaders and others in the region before he flies to Syria for an anticipated visit with President Assad. While asserting that "Syria needs to respect Lebanon's sovereignty," Kerry also declared that he thinks "it's important to talk, to have dialogue." Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., are also expected to visit Syria. As Sen. Nelson pointed out, these visits are part of their "constitutional role" as members of Congress.
Recognizing that Bush has abandoned his own "constitutional role," members of Congress will be more challenged than ever to set their own course as they carry out their role in managing the nation's foreign affairs. It's encouraging to see our Democratic leaders reaching out where the Bush cabal is loath to travel. Our soldiers, and the rest of those affected by the unrest Bush has fostered and aggravated in the Mideast region, can't afford to wait until the administration gets over itself.