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Archive for the ‘Syria’ Category

In a feed from REUTERS, Yahoo News reports:

President Bashar al-Assad met a Republican member of the U.S. Congress on Thursday, a day after Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ended a visit to Syria that was criticized by the White House. The official news agency said the meeting between Assad and Darrell Issa, a member of the House Committee on Intelligence, discussed ways to improve relations between Washington and Damascus.


If this is not evidence of the paranoia of the extremists on the right than I am not sure what might be classified as evidence. Nancy Pelosi, constitutionally third in line for succession to the presidency, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Democrat travels to Syria to engage with Syrian President Assad in discussions that may prove fruitful in the pursuit of a lasting peace in the Middle East and she is roundly criticized by the Bush administration. But, when Darrell Issa, a 4th term congressman from California, does the very same thing the silence from the White House is deafening. Where is Bush now? Where is Cheney, now? Where is the right wing blogosphere now? How is it that when a Democratic leader in the house takes reasonable steps to engage in the political life of the nation she is portrayed as no less than Satan himself but when a Republican back bencher does precisely the same thing not a sound can be heard from the hecklers. Perhaps it is time to stop the vitriolic nature of American politics, to begin to find a common ground from which to conduct ourselves in the world. That won’t happen until we are, once again, able to talk without shouting here at home.

Less than 655 days left in this administration’s tenure. Can we survive that long?

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Vice President Dick Cheney accused U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday of “bad behavior” on her Middle East trip, saying she bungled a message for Syria’s president that was later clarified by Israel.

Cheney harshly criticized Pelosi’s visit to Syria this week and declared in an interview, “The president is the one who conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House.”

Of all people to complain about Speaker Pelosi’s Middle Eastern trip! Cheney, one of the war profiteers, is, of course, correct that the president is the one who is supposed to conduct foreign policy–with the advice and consent of the Senate, a constitutional barrier the president no longer has in his back pocket. Bush’s idea of foreign policy seems to be more or less–more troops, more money, more bombs, more deaths, more destruction –less talk, less truth, less democracy, less trust among our remaining friends. The Bush more or less pursuit of foreign policy seems to be no policy at all; rather it appears to be one new strategy for success supplanted by another leading to failure and more still failure; a seat of one’s pants approach to foreign policy. For Cheney, and architect of the Bush non-policy (a colleague of mine disagrees and calls the Iraq policy the first Oedipal War (after all, Saddam did try “to kill my daddy!”), to complain about one who is constitutionally third in line for the presidency seeking meaningful discussions with those with whom we might disagree is simply disingenuous.

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Pelosi Brings Peace Message to Assad

The Chicago Tribune reports:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi held talks with Syria’s leader Wednesday despite White House objections, saying she pressed President Bashar Assad over his country’s support for militant groups and passed him a peace message from Israel.

Place this along side the Bush remarks that insisted that sending delegations to Syria simply doesn’t work. So here is a question for you. Is it sending delegations that doesn’t work or is it that Assad and any other sane leader in the world knows that talking to Bush is something like talking to a wall. In Bush’s words..You’re either with us or against us. For Bush there is not now nor has there ever been a middle ground. There is no respect paid to cultures outside our own. The insensitivity of Bush and his neocon cronies is barbaric.

Now who the heck knows if Pelosi’s visit to Assad will be productive. In fact, that will be left to time, to the Syrians and the Israelis and other players in the Middle East. But the fact remains that refusal to engage in discourse, in dialog with the other is the surest way to not make any progress at all.

As the isolation of Syria begins to crumble, no thanks to Bush, the hopes for peace in the Middle East are raised. I applaud Pelosi’s courageous stance as she begins to open doors that Bush has kept closed and locked for the past six years.

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I received a comment from someone who did not agree with my position. After some consideration I decided that I would delete the comment, not because of its content, but because of the language used to express disagreement. In two lines I counted five off-color comments. Rational debate has no room for language that is offensive, for name calling, or for displays of anger that are out of control. One of the great features of a blog is the ability to carry on reasonable discussions regarding many issues of interest to the blogger. This blog is no exception to that idea. My concern here is not that someone disagrees with my position; I do not nor can I claim a lock on any knowledge. Rather, my quarrel is with the tone and tenor of the comment itself. Rather than dispute ideas, the commenter resorted to name calling and foul language that has no place in civilized discussion. I will delete comments like this one every time I see one. I will never delete a comment that engages in an exchange of ideas.

Giorgio Agamben (1998) makes the point that modern democratic societies run the risk of decaying into totalitarian states when the subjective self confuses itself with the objective whole thereby granting to the sovereign all power, even full power over death. The comment I received was from an individual who, in his (or her) anger, could no longer engage in rational debate; he (or she) could no longer recognize that a difference of political opinion in a democratic state must not lead to responses embedded in anger, rather that they ought to be open to the light of day for all to respond. When anger wins out Agamben’s point appears in full force–the totalitarian state is here as we are expected to submit to the will of the dictator, in this case, George W. Bush. Granting the sovereign maximum power outside of debate and with no accountability is nothing more than objective submission to totalitarianism, something a democracy cannot tolerate.

I struggled with deleting this particular comment, the first time I have ever done so, because I believe in the power of rational debate, discussion and the inevitable disagreements that flow from these debates. The fact is, however, that I have chosen to approve comments as a form of censorship of abusive, crude, or foul language; language that has no place in thoughtful debate or discussion. I doubt if the commenter is a regular reader of this blog, but if he is I invite him to resubmit his comment without the language problems that prompted my deletion. Make your point, make it clear and let’s have at it and see what ideas prevail in the end.

References

Agamben, G. (1998). Homo Sacer: Sovereign power and bare life (D. Heller-Roazen, Trans.). Sanford, CA: Sanford University Press.

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Nancy Pelosi arrived today in Damascus to begin discussions with Syrian officials. President Bush is indignant saying Pelosi’s visit sends mixed signals to Syrian President, Bashar Assad. The Bush solution to diplomacy is, it seems, to be two-fold:

  • Not talk to those with whom he doesn’t agree
    or
  • Bomb those with whom he doesn’t agree back to the stone age

Bush’s child like decisions to bully the world are not the stuff of which international respect is gained. Bush, furthermore, seems to not understand that he does not control the Congress as he has in the first six-years of his administration. He no longer speaks and his will is done. He must come down from his god-like stance and somehow begin to act as a reasonable political leader.

While I am not sure what good will come of the Pelosi visit to Damascus I am unwilling to dismiss this bold move as dangerous to our national interests as our President seems to be so willing to do. But then, Bush has had six-years of ignoring the Loyal Opposition so why not ignore others that don’t agree. The best part of this whole debacle is that Bush has less than 660 days left in office. How much harm can he do in 660 days? I, for one, am afraid to find out.

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