Michael Totten

US Senators trying to "find facts" in Syria

By Abu Kais

Senator Bill Nelson (D), the first in a group of at least 4 senators who want to try dialogue with Syria, has been dragged through the mud by dictator Bashar Assad. Over the next few days, John Kerry, Arlen Specter and Christopher Dodd will join him, in an attempt to "convince the Assad regime to "cooperate" in Iraq.  As soon as they finish reading the Baker-Hamilton report.

The report, as you know, recommended dialogue with Syria and Iran, because "it worked before" (can’t you see how it worked for the US? Iran and Syria are now trusted US allies). Although the panel, which spent nine months peppering the obvious with delusional half-baked solutions, said the US would not compromise over Lebanon to get Syria’s cooperation, it said it believes the Assad regime has an interest in a stable Iraq and Lebanon.

Right. So off goes Nelson, who gloated that Assad "clearly indicated a willingness to cooperate” in controlling its border with Iraq.

Nelson said he reported the information to embassy officials and will brief his congressional committees on the trip.

Sean McCormack wasn’t impressed:

At the State Department, spokesman Sean McCormack questioned even the usefulness of Nelson’s visit, considering the lack of effect on Syria’s action by other visiting foreign dignitaries such as German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier or Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos of Spain.

"We still haven’t seen any change in Syrian behavior, any noticeable change in Syrian behavior. … They haven’t changed their behavior at all despite those entreaties to change their behavior."

On Lebanon, Nelson really let Bashar have it, or was it the other way around?

"We support the (Lebanese) prime minister’s efforts to establish a tribunal for a horrific crime of assassination," Nelson told reporters. "It is very important that the Untied Nations follows through with this investigation.. and find the perpetrators and bring them to justice," Nelson said.

Assad "disagreed with the opinion that I expressed," Nelson said, adding the Syrian president "said that he did not support the Saniora government."

"On that we had a very sharp exchange of words and a sharp disagreement," Nelson added.

Hopefully (sarcasm), Kerry and the rest will convince Assad where Nelson failed, and Assad will continue to feel important, and frequented by US Senators programmed to blindly oppose their president, without offering a clear alternative.

The senators have described their mission as a "fact-finding" trip. Here’s a suggestion. Read those intelligence reports. Or have one of your interns translate a Lebanese newspaper. Maybe visit a Lebanese blog or two. Just don’t expect yourselves to achieve anything but wasting taxpayer money by visiting Assad.

What’s next? Tea and a holocaust story with Ahmadinejad?