Speaker Pelosi Is 100% Right About Syria

With the administration of the most failed and catastrophic national-security policy in history in full-throated attack demeaning the Speaker, and mainstream media as usual parroting the attack with minimal response for the first 24 hours, it is time to make this case: The Speaker is absolutely right and it is important to consider exactly why.

First, let's be clear about exactly what the Speaker did. She put pressure on Syria to do exactly what the president claims he wants Syria to do. She put pressure on Syria to do exactly what Israel wants Syria to do.

If there is any message received by Syria from this trip, it is that the Speaker and Democrats join the president in demanding Syria provide security guarantees to Israel, stop any support for terrorist groups, and stop any action that helps those in Iraq killing Americans.

What the Speaker did was advance the goals the president publicly says he favors, unless in truth the president prefers yet another unwise war to what he claims he wants diplomatically.

Second, let's discuss what is really happening.

There is one common denominator to every American president from Eisenhower through Clinton, and it is this: America negotiates with enemies and adversaries, as well as with friends and allies, to achieve our goals.

Kennedy said we should never negotiate out of fear, but never fear to negotiate. This was followed by the most conservative and the most Republican presidents. Eisenhower talked to the Soviets when the Soviets were at their worst. Nixon talked to the Soviets and to the Chinese communist leaders. Reagan talked to the Soviets, and not only Gorbachev — he also wrote a personal plea to Brezhnev.

The policy of George W. Bush is deviant, extreme, radical and unprecedented in the history of Republican and conservative U.S. presidents, indeed of all previous U.S. presidents.

George W. Bush is inexplicably hostile to achieving American goals through diplomacy on those matters, which are many, where he prefers to achieve American goals through war, in ways destructive to American goals, leading to disaster.

It will take a generation to undo the damage that George W. Bush has done to the American military through attitudes and policies that are radical, extreme, unwise and disastrous.

Even today, we learn that more National Guard will be called up — which is in itself an additional violation of common sense and sound military doctine and more proof of the crisis of readiness and deterrence that this president's policies have brought to the American military.

There will be more Guard call-ups coming soon, mark my words, write it down. The president wants to escalate and surge wars without the troops to fight them. This latest Guard call-up will be the first of many, until the policy is changed. There will be even more damage to our Army, Marine Corps, Guard and Reserves, specifically in the areas of training and preparedness. Preventable American casualties will continue unabated.

And this is not even to mention the scandal surrounding the treatment of our wounded troops — treatment that has been woefully, unconscionably underfunded for four years now, and for which the president "apologized" only recently. One cannot help but feel that new revelations will be coming to light any day now.

The president cannot protect our wounded troops from rats, mice, lice, urine, and feces while he escalates the surge. He escalates the call-ups of National Guardsmen, without any rational military understanding of force structures and unmet military equipment and personnel needs, which escalate by the hour, under his policies.

As former Secretary of State James Baker has pleaded privately and stated publicly, the one major area of potential diplomatic achievement to serve American objectives is with Syria.

Of course the Syrians are not nice leaders, no more than Krushchev, Brezhnev, Chernenko, Andropov, Mao and Chou En Lai were when Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush all supported negotiations with them.

Former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell understands the need to attempt diplomacy with Syria. Former Secretary of State James Baker understands it. The entire Baker Hamilton Study Group, including every Republican without one single exception, understands it. While they cannot say it publicly, virtually the entire command structure of the United States military privately understands it.

What the Speaker did was advocate the goals the president advocates, and pressure the Syrians to do what the president wants them to do, in a way favored by a very long list of very senior Republicans, following a view that was unanimously supported by every Republican member of the Baker Hamilton Group, in the tradition of every Republican and conservative president in the history of the Republic.

What the Speaker could not do, and did not do, was advocate anything that contradicted the U.S. goals and policies.

Everything the Speaker said, everything the Speaker did, added pressure IN SUPPORT of the president's stated goals.

The president prefers an American government with only one branch and one political party, and the American people have now seen and rejected the bloody and failed result of that.

The Speaker does not have the power or the intent to send Syria "mixed signals."

On the substance of the matter, the Speaker gave powerful bipartisan support to what the president has called for.

On the procedure of the matter, the Speaker cannot send a "mixed signal" about whether the president will negotiate.

Everyone on earth knows that the Decider does not listen to the most wise and experienced Republicans.

Everyone on earth knows he does not care about the judgment of every previous Republican and conservative president.

What everyone on earth does not know, but will someday learn, is that on issue after issue, the president ignores the advice of his current secretary of state, Condi Rice.

And everyone on earth certainly knows that the president does not take advice from Speaker Pelosi, though the American military would be far stronger today had he done so during the past four years of catastrophic failure.

I opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, as a centrist Democrat in the Sam Nunn, Lloyd Bentsen and John Glenn tradition. What has galled me the most, from the beginning of this catastrophe, is the radicalism, extremism and dishonesty of those who wanted this war the longest, whose damage to America was the greatest, and whose demeaning contempt for informed opinion and democratic institutions is more reminiscent of Putin's Russia than Jefferson's or even Reagan's America.

In 2002, 2003 and 2004 I was highly critical, in public and directly with many of them, of my party's leaders for not standing against this predictable catastrophe. I don't read talking points for my party. I have zero respect for wealthy Democratic consultants who told inexperienced Democratic senators to send American troops to war to advance their own political careers. And I am more than willing to be critical of Democrats when the lives of our men and women in uniform hang in the balance.

Without one minute of doubt, I stand 100 percent completely and totally with the Speaker on this matter. What she did was right, wise, in the tradition of practices followed by previous American presidents of both parties and of previous American Speakers of both parties.

America is not a monarchy. American interests have been disastrouly ill-served by this wrong and radical attitude, American troops have been disastrously harmed by these deviations from traditionally American ways of doing the business of democracy.

American interests, American troops, American policies, American military families, and our American values were well-served by the Speaker.

I urge all Democrats to stand with the Speaker and I urge the overwhelming majority of the Republicans, who privately agree but publicly too often lack the courage of their convictions, to stand with her, too.

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