The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, is scheduled to meet with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus today, and will deliver a message of calm from Israel.So, government sources in Israel confirmed to their most high-brow paper that Pelosi was delivering a message designed to avert an armed confrontation with Syria. The contrast that action struck with the Bush Administration's policies had to have them worried. She was speaking to America's enemies, which, of course, is a big shock. She presented the current tough message of America's foreign policy - identical to the Bush Administration's minus the silent treatment - proving that talking to your enemies does not unduly reward them. Most strikingly, it was an American government official tangibly working for peace. Unprecedented! Here was a member of the Democratic Party enacting one of the Baker Commission's recommendations, taking affirmative action to improve our national security by acting to stabilize the middle east, while the Bush Administration knows only war and chaos. The contrast was anything but flattering, so of course the White House felt the need to hit back.
"We hope the message will be understood," political sources in Israel said yesterday. "The question is whether Assad is looking for an excuse ... so that he can carry out an attack against Israel in the summer, or whether this is a mistaken assessment."
Pelosi visited Israel yesterday and told her Israeli interlocutors that the country must speak with Assad and that the door should not be closed to Syria, even though she is aware that Syria supports terrorism and continued cooperation with Iran.
They hit back by accusing the Speaker of the House of bungling a simple "message of calm." But:
If that was the case, why did Olmert need to make a clarification, as Israelis were not speaking on the record. Lantos suggested there was pressure from the White House.
"It's obvious the White House is desperate to find some phony criticism of the speaker's trip, even though it was a bipartisan trip," said Lantos, a Holocaust survivor who is considered the Democrat closest to the pro-Israel lobby. "I have nothing but contempt and disdain for the attempt to undermine this trip."
The White House had no comment on the allegations by Lantos that it pressured Olmert to offer a clarification.
Such backdoor statecraft between the White House and Olmert would not be unprecedented.
Last year, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice talked Olmert into a 48-hour cease-fire during the war with Hezbollah to allow humanitarian relief, but within hours Israeli planes were bombing again, to Rice's surprise and anger. Olmert had received a call, apparently from Cheney's office, telling him to ignore Rice.
She was doing good in the world, so they just had to create a controversy.
Postscript: No, Pelosi is not taking a trip to Iran, and never was. Despite her direct refutations,
the right-wing media continues to report it as fact. Another zombie lie is born.