Now, I will start by saying that it is actually a good thing that this administration has finally (yet secretively) woken up to the overwhelming number of Americans that realize that Iran and Syria are situated next to Iraq and aren’t going anywhere, so we have little choice but to talk to them in the hopes of ending this ongoing disaster of all disasters that the Bush administration lied us into in Iraq.
Over the past few weeks, outgoing U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad had discussions with delegates from both Iran and Syria, as we all know about the republican Congressmen who met with Syrian diplomats before, during and after “the eeeevul traitor Nancy Pelosi” met with them as well.
And, as a follow up to a diary I wrote the other night about the "strong on national security" meme (and something that thereisnospoon and I discussed last night at Political Nexus, I want to relate two conversations I recently had that show how, even in ultimately doing the right thing, the "Democrats are weak" meme gets ingrained into people's minds - even when facts are laid out right there for people to see and hear. Defeating the republicans and shedding light on their hypocrisy requires a very strong rebuttal every chance we get - and even this isn't always enough.
First story was a conversation with my mother regarding her high level of disapproval that Nancy Pelosi not only met with "our enemy, Syria, who wants us all dead", but had the nerve to wear a headscarf. Additionally, the fact that she did this "against the administration's wishes" indicated that this was a very bad move and choice to my mother. She knows what she watches on CNN or FoxNews, and from what I tell her (or my diaries). Without my "balance", she wouldn't know half, or most of what she knows about what is really going on.
In any event, it was ingrained in her head that Pelosi (1) did something that was very weak from a national security standpoint, (2) did something very disrespectful to America by wearing the headscarf and (3) went against the administration for meeting with people that "just want us all dead".
Of course, I was all ready to point out that (1) republican Congressmen went with her, met with Syria both before and after she did, as did the US Ambassador to Iraq, (2) both Laura Bush and Condoleezza Rice wore headscarves when they were in similar positions and (3) not only did Pelosi tell Bush that she was going (and Bush didn't object), she conveyed the same message as the administration was sending - a BIG difference from when BOTH Newt Gingrich AND Dennis Hastert told foreign countries to bypass President Clinton and talk to Congress directly.
The other conversation was later that day and was with my dad, who has softened his stance recently from being self described as "just to the right of Genghis Khan". He now thinks the administration is horrible and corrupt, but still thinks that progressives and Democrats "have no plan" and are weak on national security. Hopefully his listening to us over at Political Nexus will give him some more insight....
Our conversation focused on what I think should be done to fight terrorism on a global basis, and after he didn't want me to tell him all of the things that the administration has done that I would NOT have done (which I understand, but in order to do what needs to be done, a certain level of "undoing" needs to be done as well), I started to give him my ideas (also something that thereisnospoon and I discussed last night at Political Nexus).
Intelligence sharing, law enforcement, "can't fight terrorism militarily", goodwill with other countries to make them "want" to help, and talking to Iran, Syria and other Middle Eastern countries in order to extricate ourselves from Iraq in a way that won't be reminiscent of Vietnam and also leave a raging case of genocide. As soon as I got to "talk to Iran and Syria", that was it. Despite the fact that 75% of Americans (as of December 2006) were in favor of direct talks with them, that was the end of the discussion.
"You can't negotiate with terrorists. They only want to kill us. Why would they want to talk to us." And so on. The conversation continued, and we actually had similar views on some other points, but that was that.
This all brings me back to these next few days, where Rice urged Iran to attend this week's meeting in Egypt, and Iran will be there. Now, there may not be substantive talks, but even though the summit begins today, you can bet that it won't get much coverage (hint: it isn't on the main page of CNN or MSNBC or Yahoo news, but the already debunked story about the
dead not dead al Qaeda leader is still on all three pages).
It is long overdue for this administration to negotiate, or at least hold direct talks with Syria and Iran. Yes, they don't have the same goals and motives as the United States does. But that isn't really the point. Like I said above, they are situated next to Iraq, and they aren't up and leaving. And we are (despite what Bush says, we will be leaving Iraq before his term is up).
But the way that this has unfolded leaves an impression on millions of Americans (even ones that are fed up with this administration, and are embarrassed by what the republican party has become) that the Democrats just want to "negotiate with terrorists" and aren't serious about defeating "an enemy that wants to kill us all". We all know that the opposite is true. Blatantly obvious, if you will. But none of that is the point. The fact remains that the republicans and the Bush administration are horrific when it comes to foreign policy, the "war on terror", on national security, and on diplomacy.
This horrific failure has cost the United States untold amounts of goodwill, money and ability to keep it safe and secure, in addition to working with other nations to cut off funding and support for terrorist extremist groups. Plain and simple. However, my parents are just two people who try to stay informed that believe full on the lies that are being told, and the hypocrisy that the administration and republican party exhibits with respect to diplomacy.
In fact, I am willing to bet that, until they read this, they probably have no idea that there is a summit in Egypt that Condoleezza Rice has asked Iran to attend and plans on talking directly to not only them, but Syria.
And while the actions are noble and far past "about time", the belief that if a Democrat does it then it is tantamount to treason has to be continuously fought.