The Boston Globe's report that former Secretary of State John Kerry met with foreign officials to discuss saving the Iran nuclear deal is the latest reminder that Democrats consistently seek to appease America's enemies while spitting in the eye of our commander-in-chief.
More than a decade ago, then Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi and a gang of other Democratic leaders defied American foreign policy and met with the ruthless and brutal Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Pelosi extended an open-hand to an isolated country that had a penchant for violating the rights of its civilians, sponsoring terrorism, and threatening war with its neighbors. She claimed her ultimate goal was to discuss the status of Syria's peace talks with Israel. “We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace,” Pelosi told reporters after her 2007 rendezvous to Assad's presidential palace.
It was hard even then to imagine how Syria could serve as a road to anything besides bloodshed. Evidence shows that some of Syria's actions ended up killing Americans fighting in Iraq. Still, incredulously, these elected officials went to the state sponsor of terrorism despite President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney publicly condemning the meeting as "counterproductive," according to a Washington Post article from the time.
From The Washington Post:
Before her meeting, President Bush criticized the visit, saying that sending delegations to Syria "doesn't work."
"It's simply been counterproductive," he said at a news conference Tuesday.
Vice President Cheney echoed that sentiment Wednesday, telling an ABC News radio interviewer that Assad has "been isolated and cut off because of his bad behavior. And the unfortunate thing about the speaker's visit is it sort of breaks down that barrier. It means without him having done any of those things he should do in order to be acceptable . . . he gets a visit from a high-ranking American anyway. In other words, his bad behavior is being rewarded, in a sense."
Those on the ground in Syria who opposed Assad feared that the meeting would enable the Syrian government to do whatever it wanted.
According to the Observer, “Pelosi’s visit made the regime feel that Americans were divided on how to deal with Syria,” a Damascus-based women’s-rights activist who, like five other activists interviewed for this article, asked that his name be withheld because he feared punishment. “This sends a message to the regime that the pressure is off, that it can do what it likes.”
When Assad first took office in 2000, many hoped the man would be a reformer. But, it quickly became apparent that Assad would increase authoritarian ways. Among his crack down of enemies, Assad commanded "pervasive censorship and surveillance and brutal violence against suspected opponents of the regime." Due to this, as well his sponsor of terror organizations like Hezbollah, the United States opted for a policy of isolation. Pelosi and her gang of Democrats felt by 2007 that Assad had been neglected for too long. Pelosi was joined by Democrats Henry A. Waxman, Tom Lantos, Louise M. Slaughter, Nick J. Rahall II, and the current co-chair of the Democratic Party, Keith Ellison. One Republican joined the group as well.
Whatever hopes these officials had were based on false premises. They trusted Assad and his government over their own country. The meeting had emboldened Assad and legitimized his political oppression. Syria was then hit by a four year drought which only exacerbated political and economic tensions in the country. Assad's crack down and censorship continued. The country soon slipped into warfare amongst its own people. Hundreds of thousands of Syrian lives lost later, the exact cause of the civil war and what America as a whole should have done differently can be debated. What cannot be debated is that at a time when American foreign policy should have been united, the Democrats chose to embarrass President Bush rather than have a thorough debate.
At the time, Rep. Eric Cantor from Culpeper, Virginia penned an op-ed in National Review criticizing Pelosi.
From National Review:
"Last week the public sat stunned as Speaker Pelosi became the highest-ranking U.S. official to sit with Syrian dictator and terror-sponsor Bashar al-Assad. If Speaker Pelosi’s diplomatic foray into Syria weren’t so harmful to U.S. interests in the Middle East, it would have been laughable.
In one fell swoop, the Speaker legitimized and emboldened a ruthless thug whose unyielding support for terrorism has bogged down our attempts to bring stability and peace to the region at every step of the way. The excursion, condemned by most major newspapers, undoubtedly won Pelosi plaudits from her reflexively anti-Bush liberal base.
But most instructively, it revealed why Democrats remain woefully unfit to set the nation’s foreign policy.
Presenting Assad with “a new Democratic alternative” — code for making President Bush look feckless — Mrs. Pelosi usurped the executive branch’s time-honored foreign-policy authority. Her message to Assad was that congressional Democrats will forbid the president from increasing pressure on Damascus to stop its murderous way. Several leading legal authorities have made the case that her recent diplomatic overtures ran afoul of the Logan Act, which makes it a felony for any American “without authority of the United States” to communicate with a foreign government to influence that government’s behavior on any disputes with the United States. Regardless of the law, Pelosi proceeded to make Assad an important regional player without first having to become a responsible one. At such a critical moment in the volatile Middle East, this is no time for the United States to be sending out mixed signals to our enemies.
How must our troops in Iraq, who live in daily fear of Syrian-supplied IEDs and weapons, feel about Mrs. Pelosi cozying up to Assad and telling him that “we came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace”? How about our allies in Lebanon’s fledgling democratic government, who for years have chafed under Syrian occupation and are currently struggling with Syrian attempts to reassert its dominance over the country? Knowing all too well that Syria’s meddling and support for Hezbollah always formed their greatest obstacle, government supporters have understandably reacted with outrage to Pelosi’s assurance that the “road to solving Lebanon’s problems passes through Damascus.” And then there are the Israelis, principal victims of Syrian support and succor for Hezbollah and Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was rightfully angered by Pelosi’s bungled message to Assad that Israel was “ready to engage in the peace process.” In fact, our ally Israel is determined not to engage with Syria until it renounces terrorism. With Pelosi and other Democrats sending such soft signals, the Israelis would be well advised not to hold their breath."
Had the Logan Act been enforced as Cantor mentioned, this cabal of self-proclaimed diplomats almost certainly would have been in violation. In essence they were deliberately attempting to alter another nation's foreign policy by communicating with a foreign official. As mentioned in last night's article, the three elements of the Logan Act are "(1)Communicating with a foreign government; (2) without authority of the United States; (3) for the purpose of influencing the actions of the foreign government in relation to a dispute with the United States or of defeating U.S. policy." At this point, some might be saying that Sen. Tom Cotton must also be in violation of the Logan Act as well due to his 2015 letter to Iran stating that any deal made by President Obama (what is now known as the Iran nuclear deal) could be revoked by a future president or congress. In other words, exactly what President Trump is trying to do right now. To that extent, National Review author Tom Rogan explained the key differences between Pelosi's deliberate actions and Cotton's poor judgement.
From National Review:
"When Nancy Pelosi embraced Bashar al-Assad in April 2007, she wasn’t simply challenging the commander-in-chief during a war; she was propagandizing for a dictator who was killing Americans.
The Left’s hypocrisy on this issue defines tragic delusion. While liberals call for Senator Cotton and Co. to face prosecution under the Logan Act for writing a letter, they simultaneously defend Speaker Pelosi’s aid to Assad. (Incidentally, anyone who believes the Logan Act has been breached has a severe case of legal incontinence.)
Yet there’s also a great moral dysfunction here. While I believe Cotton’s letter was a mistake that endangered efforts by other senators to gain oversight of President Obama’s Iran policy, the letter was seen in Iran for what it was — domestic politics. In contrast, the former speaker’s judgment has long met its match with bloody reality."
Indeed, those same Democrats demanding the Logan Act be enforced are now silent on former Secretary of State John Kerry's recent trip. Rather than send a public letter to Iran, Kerry apparently met in private with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. The only reason for Kerry to be meeting with Zarif is to usurp the president's power, save his former boss's disastrous deal, and influence Iranian decision making. Iran, which is also on the state sponsor of terrorism list, is America's enemy. The Logan Act should be enforced, but most likely will not be. Regardless, Kerry's actions show that the same warning Cantor applied to Pelosi in 2007 can be reiterated here: "At such a critical moment in the volatile Middle East, this is no time for the United States to be sending out mixed signals to our enemies..(Kerry's actions) revealed why Democrats remain woefully unfit to set the nation’s foreign policy."