Dennis of Damascus and Tehran Tom
By Kenneth R. Timmerman
FrontPageMagazine.com | 9/14/2007
As Democrats in Congress and the organized left denounce the cautious optimism of Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus (“General Betray Us,” according to moveon.org), some Members continue to consort with the enemy in ways reminiscent of Hanoi Jane Fonda in the early 1970s.
Dennis Kucinich is the latest among the Congressional Democrats to travel the road to Damascus, to give aid and comfort to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
In an interview with a tarted-up reporter for Syrian state television, Kucinich laid out his plan for unilateral U.S. surrender in Iraq, the Middle East, and indeed just about anywhere America might seek to get engaged under its own flag in the world.
It should not have been. Kucinich is not merely a disgrace to Congress and the Democratic Party. By sucking up to a dictator and deriding U.S. troops in Iraq on a foreign state-run television program, he has disgraced his nation and his flag.
Here are a few samples of what Dennis of Damascus told the Syrian public, with the helpful (but unneeded) prompting of his cover-girl interviewer.
“I feel the United States is engaged in an illegal occupation,” he said. “Americans have an increased understanding today of how wrong the war was and is, and I think they’re looking for a new direction, and that’s certainly what I’m offering.”
He had come to Syria to meet with “His Excellency,” the Syrian dictator, “so that people are aware that there are members of Congress and in this case, a presidential candidate, who believes that Syria has a very important role to play in bringing about stability, in participating in a political process, which will help create the conditions which can lead to peace.”
Yes, well. That’s what Hanoi Jane said in May 1972 when she traveled to North Vietnam.
The Israeli Air Force recently had something to say about Syria’s contribution to peace and stability last week, when it bombed what appears to have been a shipment of Iranian missiles destined for Hezbollah as it was passing through eastern Syria.
An Israeli official told reporters on Wednesday that the air strike had “left a big hole” in Syria. The Syrians have complained to the United Nations.
General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker also derided the notion that Syria was a force for stabilization, noting “malign actions” by Syria and Iran in fueling the insurgency in Iraq.
But if you listen to Dennis of Damascus, that’s okay. All we need to do is talk to the dictators.
Kucinich said that Assad “showed a real desire to play a role in helping to create a peaceful settlement of the conditions in Iraq, as well as a grander approach towards creating peace.”
As he told Syrian television, “the United States must end the occupation, close the bases, bring the troops home, but we must have a parallel political process that reaches out to the international community, with the help of Syria and Iran, that would bring an international peace-keeping force, move it in as our troops leave, so there is no vacuum.”
What Kucinich wants is very clear. He wants to turn Iraq over to Syria and Iran, with the imprimatur of the United Nations. He conveniently expects the UN to send the bills to the U.S. taxpayer and dump the political blame for the bloodshed to follow on President Bush.
“I crafted my peace plan with people who served in the UN with peace-keeping missions over the years,” Dennis of Damascus said. “Not only must we stabilize Iraq. We must pay reparations to Iraq for the great human tragedy that has been caused. Perhaps as many as a million innocent Iraqis have lost their lives as a result of this war.”
But wait: here comes the heart throb. Syria’s wonderfully humanitarian leader has taken in some of those Iraqi refugees. “A million and a half are in Syria, and I met with some of them, and I can tell you that this is a great human tragedy.”
Most of the Iraqi refugees in Syria are Christians, as I have noted on this page. But Kucinich conveniently forgot that.
He also forgot to mention that Syrian-backed Sunni Muslim jihadis were responsible for driving them out of them homes in the first place.
In a subsequent interview in Beirut with the Associated Press, Kucinich explained why he had not used the opportunity of his Labor Day travel to the Middle East to visit with U.S. troops in Iraq.
“I don’t want to bless that occupation with my presence,” he said. “I will not do it.” So much for a Democrat supporting the troops.
All of this could be dismissed as pure comedy if it weren’t for the fact that the Kucinich/MoveOn.org wing of the Democratic party represents real money and influence.
The Washington Times reported on Thursday that MoveOn.org “ranked third in the country among political action committees in total receipts from January 2005 to June 30, 2006, with $14.1 million.”
The group trailed two other pro-Democrat PACS – Emily’s List, which raised $20 million, and the Service Employees International Union, which raised $14.4 million during the same period.
Kucinich is not the only member of Congress who wants to cozy up to America’s enemies.
Tehran Tom – excuse me, the chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, California Democrat Tom Lantos – has said repeatedly that he wants to travel to Tehran to negotiate some kind of peace-in-our-time with Iran’s clerical dictators.
Lantos first bruited his desire to travel to Tehran in January 1998, but was quickly rebuffed by the Islamic Republic of Iran authorities.
After his much-disputed April 2007 trip to Damascus with House speaker Nancy Pelosi, Lantos said he was ready to escort the gentle-lady from California to Tehran:
“Speaking just for myself, I would be ready to get on a plane tomorrow morning, because however objectionable, unfair and inaccurate many of [Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's] statements are, it is important that we have a dialogue with him,” Lantos told reporters at the time.
In May, Lantos joined a letter that Sen. Arlen Specter (R, Pa) sent to the speaker of the Iranian parliament, suggesting a joint meeting of U.S. and Iranian parliamentarians.”
Also signing the letter were “Peace In Our Times” Senators Joe Biden, Chuck Hagel, Chris Dodd, and Representatives English, Moran, Gilchrest and Meeks.
In his letters and meetings with Iranian authorities to obtain the release of Woodrow Woodrow Wilson Center scholar Haleh Esfandiareh, who was arrested in Iran early this year, Congressman Lee Hamilton reportedly offered to broker visits to Tehran by top Democrats in Congress.
Hamilton had “very large discussions” with Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York, a source close to Hamilton told me, “that covered a broad range of subjects involving U.S.-Iranian relations.”
Esfandiareh was released after Hamilton sent a letter to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, outlining his ideas for renewed U.S.-Iranian exchanges.
Hamilton was summoned to Iran’s mission at the United Nations in New York to receive a two paragraph reply from Khamenei in August, that signaled the ayatollah’s intention to release the jailed Iranian-American scholar as a gesture of good will.
We have seen these kinds of “good will” gestures many, many, many times before.
Whether it’s Neville Chamberlin returning from Munich in 1938, or Norwegian Nazi puppet Vidkun Quisling, who I profiled in my book, Preacher’s of Hate, the practise and its results are sickeningly familiar.
It’s called appeasement.
And the result, sooner rather than later, is always war.
Kenneth R. Timmerman was nominated for the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize along with John Bolton for his work on Iran. He is Executive Director of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran, and author of Countdown to Crisis: the Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran (Crown Forum: 2005).