Nelson meets with Syrian leader, earns criticism from Kyl

Nelson meets with Syrian leader, earns criticism from Kyl
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), emerged from a Wednesday meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying that opportunities exist to continue a dialogue about Syria’s role in helping steady the chaos in Iraq.

Nelson is the Democrats’ newest member of the Intelligence Committee and his a sharp schism between the Democrats’ newest Intelligence committee member and President Bush.

Nelson was the first U.S. official to visit Syria since the bipartisan Iraq Study Group recommended involving Syria and Iran, two nations considered state sponsors of terrorism by the White House, in the stabilization of Iraq. While Nelson responded cautiously to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, his judgment that there is “a crack in the door” for future talks sparked immediate criticism from the Bush administration and Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.).

During Nelson’s hour-long meeting with Assad in Damascus, the recently re-elected Democrat and the Syrian leader found common ground on the need to stem the downward spiral of political unrest and violence in Iraq. The Bush administration has charged Syria with failing to fully secure its border with Iraq, allowing insurgents to cross over.

“Assad clearly indicated the willingness to cooperate with the Americans and-or the Iraqi army to be part of a solution,” Nelson told reporters in a Wednesday conference call from the Middle East. “I think there is a crack in the door for discussions to continue. I approach this with realism, not optimism.”

But the president approached Nelson’s trip with stern disapproval of any diplomatic relations with Syria, which maintained a military presence in Lebanon for 15 years after open hostilities between the countries ceased.

“Syrians deserve a government whose legitimacy is grounded in the consent of the people, not brute force,” President Bush said in a Wednesday statement. He called for the release of Syrian political prisoners and an end to Syria’s interference in Lebanese politics, which came to a head with the 2005 assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister.

Nelson also challenged Assad on Syria’s support for Hezbollah and Hamas, two armed terrorist groups operating largely in Lebanon and the Israel-Palestine area, respectively. “The two differed sharply,” according to a statement from Nelson’s office.

Kyl, the incoming Senate GOP conference chairman, appeared on Fox News Wednesday afternoon to denounce any effort to broaden U.S.-Syria dialogue.

“The Iraq Study Group is a nice group of people … that doesn’t mean it is now the policy of the U.S. government,” Kyl said.

Congressional reaction to the Iraq Study Group’s call for a détente has crossed party lines, with some Republicans and Democrats concurring but many favoring continued isolation of Syria.

Nelson’s met with Bashar al-Assad despite objections by the State Department, which also opposes efforts by Senate Democratic colleague Chris Dodd (Conn.), who also will visit Syria in coming days. Dodd said, through a spokeswoman, that he canceled plans for an April stop in Syria at the urging of the administration but supports an attempt to change the U.S.’ isolation-only approach.

“I don’t believe in having conversations with people for the sake of having conversations; idle chatter is not the point of all of this,” said Dodd, the second-ranked Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee. “However, when you’ve got governments like Syria which have influence on the course of events, it’s important to engage with them …”

He added: “I’m not going to suggest that one [senator] going into Syria is going to change everything. But I do think it’s important that they do hear directly from members of Congress about concerns we may have, and questions we may wish to raise.”

Nelson, who will head to Lebanon tomorrow, said Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) are also expected to soon visit Syria.

Kyl and James Woolsey, the former central intelligence director with whom he co-chairs the hawkish advisory council at the Center for Security Policy, wrote to Bush on Monday affirming their opposition to any U.S.-Syria thaw.

“We encourage you to follow your better instincts,” Kyl and Woosley told Bush, calling Syria a “de facto colony” of Iran that “has gone to great lengths to destabilize the Middle East.”

Federal agents search ACCESS Immigration officers look at Arab-American human services group’s Dearborn headquarters.

Federal agents search ACCESS

Immigration officers look at Arab-American human services group’s Dearborn headquarters.

Robert Snell / The Detroit News

Federal agents executed search warrants this week at the headquarters of a Dearborn-based Arab-American group.

The investigation is continuing and the warrants are sealed, so it was unclear what led U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to search the office of ACCESS, the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services.

ACCESS spokeswoman Hannan Deep said the group was told the Wednesday morning search was related to a statewide immigration investigation that was not limited to Arab organizations.

Greg Palmore, a spokesman with the Detroit office of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs, confirmed the search but declined further comment.

ACCESS, 2651 Saulino Court, helps low-income families and recent immigrants.

Propaganda Islam Style

Propaganda Islam Style

Denmark’s cartoon jihad was a lesson learned with a bang (and a bomb).
Dearborn’s free speech jihad has had no such watershed moment. It is hard to remember when things began to change. Too many citizens still fail to recognize the change.

They say that if you put a frog into a pot of boiling water,
it will leap out right away to escape the danger.

But, if you put a frog in a kettle that is filled with water that is cool and pleasant,
and then you gradually heat the kettle until it starts boiling,
the frog will not become aware of the threat until it is too late.
The frog’s survival instincts are geared towards detecting sudden changes.

This story illustrates the importance of watching slowly changing trends in the environment, and not just the sudden changes.

Denmark cartoons turned the heat up to boil so quickly – even the most cognitively impaired frogs were able to register the life threatening change in temperature. The Danes have suffered but, they have no excuse for not clearly recognizing their chance to make a life saving leap from the pot of boiling water.
Dearborn’s pot boil was gradual. The slow rise in temperature has slowed our cognition and made us lazy. We are forgetting to think and to question what we see and hear in the news. We grow more and more lethargic as the heat rises to a boil and we failed to recognize our chance to jump.

The jump should not be the move out of
Dearborn. It should be a leap of recognition and a commensurate response to Muslim leaders who are using demagoguery and threats to strangle our schools, government, and media.

The Islamic Jihad is not just about bombs and physical destruction. Jihad by sword is one method but, there is also jihad by pen.

How many readers out there are aware that ACCESS (
Dearborn’s social welfare agency for Muslim immigrants) was raided by the Feds on Wednesday, 12/6/06? You would have found this information buried in Saturday’s paper. Read the brief and contradictory article here.
I believe that our fundamental right to safety was somehow violated here. Our country is at war with so called Islamic Extremists. These terrorist don’t generally arrive and stay here legally. ACCESS is in charge of helping Muslim immigrants get into the country. This is a lot like letting the inmates run the asylum. If ACCESS was raided I believe that deserves a headline and follow-up. This is our money in our town – don’t they have an obligation to speak and let us know what this is about?Tuesday, December 12, 2006 the Freep’s Niraj Warikoo turns the heat up a little more with a headline about Muslim furor. This article was not buried three days after the fact. It was right on cue with its shocking headlines. I am pleased to note Niraj appears to have located the thesaurus tool bar. The “Muslim Outrage” headlines have become a dull sword. Jihad is not as effective if its’ tools are not sharpened. The thesaurus is a handy sharpening tool. Muslim outrage headlines are not News. How about a headline shouting, “Muslims Remain Calm and Optimistic”? But, instead we have the newest of jihad outrage expressions: “Furor”. Can you feel the temperature rising
Dearborn? Furor sounds heated and nazi-esque. It does not sound peaceful. I will personally think twice before I say or do anything that might create “Furor” – or maybe not.

No clear moment marks the time when Dearborn’s pot began to boil. This blog is perhaps the first overt sign of frogs beginning to jump out – but, we don’t plan to leave. We are determined to wake up lethargic citizens and impassion them with our boiling furor. We want to turn the heat down.

We invite anyone who feels the same to join, write, or spread the word.

Darby Shaw

Ukraine babies in stem cell probe

Ukraine babies in stem cell probe

By Matthew Hill
BBC Health Correspondent

Cells under microscope

There is heated debate about the ethics of using stem cells

Healthy new-born babies may have been killed in Ukraine to feed a flourishing international trade in stem cells, evidence obtained by the BBC suggests.

Disturbing video footage of post-mortem examinations on dismembered tiny bodies raises serious questions about what happened to them.

Ukraine has become the self-styled stem cell capital of the world.

There is a trade in stem cells from aborted foetuses, amid unproven claims they can help fight many diseases.

But now there are claims that stem cells are also being harvested from live babies.

Wall of silence

The BBC has spoken to mothers from the city of Kharkiv who say they gave birth to healthy babies, only to have them taken by maternity staff.

In 2003 the authorities agreed to exhume around 30 bodies of foetuses and full-term babies from a cemetery used by maternity hospital number six.

One campaigner was allowed into the autopsy to gather video evidence. She has given that footage to the BBC and Council of Europe.

In its report, the Council describes a general culture of trafficking of children snatched at birth, and a wall of silence from hospital staff upwards over their fate.

The pictures show organs, including brains, have been stripped – and some bodies dismembered.

A senior British forensic pathologist says he is very concerned to see bodies in pieces – as that is not standard post-mortem practice.

It could possibly be a result of harvesting stem cells from bone marrow.

Hospital number six denies the allegations.

Saudis Say They Might Back Sunnis if U.S. Leaves Iraq

Saudis Say They Might Back Sunnis if U.S. Leaves Iraq

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 — Saudi Arabia has told the Bush administration that it might provide financial backing to Iraqi Sunnis in any war against Iraq’s Shiites if the United States pulls its troops out of Iraq, according to American and Arab diplomats.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia conveyed that message to Vice President Dick Cheney two weeks ago during Mr. Cheney’s whirlwind visit to Riyadh, the officials said. During the visit, King Abdullah also expressed strong opposition to diplomatic talks between the United States and Iran, and pushed for Washington to encourage the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, senior Bush administration officials said.

The Saudi warning reflects fears among America’s Sunni Arab allies about Iran’s rising influence in Iraq, coupled with Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. King Abdullah II of Jordan has also expressed concern about rising Shiite influence, and about the prospect that the Shiite-dominated government would use Iraqi troops against the Sunni population.

A senior Bush administration official said Tuesday that part of the administration’s review of Iraq policy involved the question of how to harness a coalition of moderate Iraqi Sunnis with centrist Shiites to back the Iraqi government led by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.

The Saudis have argued strenuously against an American pullout from Iraq, citing fears that Iraq’s minority Sunni Arab population would be massacred. Those fears, United States officials said, have become more pronounced as a growing chorus in Washington has advocated a draw-down of American troops in Iraq, coupled with diplomatic outreach to Iran, which is largely Shiite.

“It’s a hypothetical situation, and we’d work hard to avoid such a structure,” one Arab diplomat in Washington said. But, he added, “If things become so bad in Iraq, like an ethnic cleansing, we will feel we are pulled into the war.”

The Bush administration is also working on a way to form a coalition of Sunni Arab nations and a moderate Shiite government in Iraq, along with the United States and Europe, to stand against “Iran, Syria and the terrorists,” another senior administration official said Tuesday.

Until now Saudi officials have promised their counterparts in the United States that they would refrain from aiding Iraq’s Sunni insurgency. But that pledge holds only as long as the United States remains in Iraq.

The Saudis have been wary of supporting Sunnis in Iraq because their insurgency there has been led by extremists of Al Qaeda, who are opposed to the kingdom’s monarchy. But if Iraq’s sectarian war worsened, the Saudis would line up with Sunni tribal leaders.

The Saudi ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal, who told his staff on Monday that he was resigning his post, recently fired Nawaf Obaid, a consultant who wrote an opinion piece in The Washington Post two weeks ago contending that “one of the first consequences” of an American pullout of Iraq would “be massive Saudi intervention to stop Iranian-backed Shiite militias from butchering Iraqi Sunnis.”

Mr. Obaid also suggested that Saudi Arabia could cut world oil prices in half by raising its production, a move that he said “would be devastating to Iran, which is facing economic difficulties even with today’s high oil prices.” The Saudi government disavowed Mr. Obaid’s column, and Prince Turki canceled his contract.

But Arab diplomats said Tuesday that Mr. Obaid’s column reflected the view of the Saudi government, which has made clear its opposition to an American pullout from Iraq.

In a speech in Philadelphia last week, Prince Turki reiterated the Saudi position against an American withdrawal from Iraq. “Just picking up and leaving is going to create a huge vacuum,” he told the World Affairs Council. “The U.S. must underline its support for the Maliki government because there is no other game in town.”

Prince Turki said Saudi Arabia did not want Iraq to fracture along ethnic or religious lines. On Monday a group of prominent Saudi clerics called on Sunni Muslims around the world to mobilize against Shiites in Iraq. The statement called the “murder, torture and displacement of Sunnis” an “outrage.”

The resignation of Prince Turki, a former Saudi intelligence chief and a son of the late King Faisal, was supposed to be formally announced Monday, officials said, but that had not happened by late Tuesday.

“They’re keeping us very puzzled,” a Saudi official said. Prince Turki’s resignation was first reported Monday in The Washington Post.

If Prince Turki does depart, he will leave after 15 months on the job, in contrast to the 22 years that his predecessor, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, spent as ambassador in Washington.

In Riyadh, there was a sense of disarray over Prince Turki’s resignation that was difficult to hide. A former adviser to the royal family said that Prince Turki had submitted his resignation several months ago but that it was refused. Rumors had circulated ever since that Prince Turki intended to resign, as talk of a possible government shake-up grew.

Prince Saud al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister and Prince Turki’s brother, has been in poor health for some time. He is described as eager to resign, with his wife’s health failing, too, just as the United States has been prodding Saudi Arabia to take a more active role in Iraq and with Iran.

The former adviser said Prince Turki’s resignation came amid a growing rivalry between the ambassador and Prince Bandar, who is now Saudi Arabia’s national security adviser. Prince Bandar, well known in Washington for his access to the White House, has vied to become the next foreign minister.

“This is a very high-level problem; this is about Turki, the king and Bandar,” said the former adviser to the royal family. “Let’s say the men don’t have a lot of professional admiration for each other.”

Protests to follow former President Carter to Ariz.

Protests to follow former President Carter to Ariz.

‘Apartheid’ in title of book implies racism, rabbis say

Ty Young
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 11, 2006 12:00 AM

Fallout from former President Carter’s latest book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, will reach the Valley when Carter visits Tempe on a book-signing tour Tuesday.

The Board of Rabbis of Greater Phoenix will protest Carter’s engagement at Changing Hands Bookstore, denouncing his recent book as irresponsible and insulting to Israelis. Among their complaints are the use of the word “apartheid” and “patently incorrect” historical references about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Jimmy Carter has made errors in the past, but this, to me, is his most egregious,” said Rabbi Darren Kleinberg, who is organizing the protest. “I feel that he has an extra responsibility to choose his words appropriately.”


Responding to criticism, Carter told The Arizona Republic the book’s title addresses life in the occupied territories.

“It refers to Palestinian territory, not to one inch of territory that is Israeli’s,” he said. “But in the occupied territories, in Palestinian land, there is a horrible demonstration of apartheid at its worst.”

After the raids: The whining begins

Feds bust truck trainee who balks at back up

Feds bust truck trainee who balks at back up
By Staff and wire reports
Monday, December 11, 2006 – Updated: 01:42 AM EST

A truck-driving student is in custody in Boston after raising suspicions when he wasn’t interested in learning how to back up his rig.

    WLVI-TV (Ch. 56) reported last night that the would-be trucker is a 28-year-old Muslim from India and had overstayed his visa. An investigation is under way to see whether there is any connection between his unusual behavior and a terrorism plot. Federal authorities were alerted by instructors at the Nationwide Tractor Trailer Driving School in Smithfield, R.I., WLVI reported.

    The student was described as a resident of New York, with driver’s licenses from New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island.

    “Every indicator was there,” R.I. State Police Major Steve O’Donnell told WLVI. “Any one of these things alone is fine, but four or five together . . . ”

The Mullahs Ruling Iran Are Not Iranians

The Mullahs Ruling Iran Are Not Iranians

By Amil Imani

Being Iranian is defined by a state of mind, not by a place of residence. The barbaric Islamist mullahs and their mercenaries presently ruling Iran are not Iranians. They are Islamofascists who have betrayed their magnificent heritage and have enlisted themselves in the service of a most oppressive, discriminating and demeaning ideology.
Iranians are proud spiritual descendants of King Cyrus the Great, the author of the first charter of the human rights. Some of Cyrus’ children live in the patch of land called Iran. The overwhelming majority-free humans with human beliefs-live in every country, city, and village of the earth.
These world-wide people, one and all, irrespective of nationality, color, or creed are Iranians because they all adhere to the Cyrus Charter; they practice and defend its lofty tenets; and, transfer this precious humanity’s treasure to the next generation.
Unequivocal genetic findings have clearly established that biologically there is only one human race; that the genetic variation within a single troop of chimpanzees, for instance, is greater than that of any two human groupings, no matter how different they may appear physically.
What makes people different is not their biology, but the “software” that runs them.
There is ample proof to support the above assertion. A case in point is the present menace posed by the people whose life is programmed by the software of radical orthodox Islam: an ideology that is anathema to the Cyrus Charter. And the results are self-evident. Hate, superstition, violence, and a raft of other inhuman beliefs drives these religious fascists. These captive followers of the primitive Islamic Charter are both the perpetrators and the victims of much suffering. The result is backward Islamic societies that are intent at dragging the rest of the world into the same sorry state. Misery likes company, it is said.
We recognize that the dysfunctional Islamic software is deeply engrained in the minds of many Muslims who opt to remain in mental bondage rather than purge their minds of the misogyny and other oppressive aspects of the faith touted by radicals, and join the rest of the human family with a new emancipating program for life and liberty.
Islamic clergy, the parasitic prime beneficiaries of Islam, are master practitioners of the carrot and stick strategy. By drawing heavily from the Quran and the Hadith, the conniving mullahs and imams have assembled a potent arsenal of threats and promises to keep the faithful in line. They have had little trouble in so doing, since Islamic scripture is replete with graphic horrific punishment awaiting the wayward and the unbelievers, while the rewards for the obedient docile, if he is male, are described as endless variety of sensual pleasures. Anyone daring to leave the corral of Islam is apostate and automatically condemned to death. And that’s just for starters. The punishment awaiting the ungrateful deserter of the one and only true path, Islam threatens, is a raft of horrific eternal torment in Allah’s hell.
And for the true faithful-the mindless robot-the promised rewards, all physical pleasures, are infinite and eternal.
In spite of these horrid threats and empty lavish promises, more and more people are beginning to recognize radical orthodox Islam for what it is. It is difficult, but not impossible to leave the fraudulent Islam’s captivity. Hundreds of thousands have done so successfully and have enjoyed the blessings of liberty.
A great threat facing free people is the recently petrodollar-energized versions of radical orthodox Islam embarking on a campaign of recruiting more people under its dark banner. Millions of disenfranchised underclass in the non-Islamic world, and millions more mentally under-developed may flock to Islam, deluded by its empty promises.
Islam is no longer in its self-made homelands. It has broken out and has established a powerful presence in much of the non-Islamic world. Radical orthodox Islam is a charter of submission. It is a sworn enemy of freedom and views the Cyrus Charter as heresy. Freedom and tyranny are incompatible. Free people must do all they can to preserve their birthright of liberty and assist others to break from the bondage of Islamic captivity.
The interdependent world community faces great challenges that demand a united effort, uncompromisingly based on justice, to meet the various ills it faces. We can no longer be complacent about events in distant world affecting alien people. Distances are bridged and alien people are now diverse members of the human family.
We honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for proclaiming from a Birmingham jail, “Injustice anywhere is threat to justice everywhere.” To demand justice for others, he risked his life, left his native Georgia, and ended in jail of the-then-bigoted south-Birmingham, Alabama. We “Iranians” of the world-free humans-must do no less. We must demand justice for our belief-kin who are suffering under the yoke of Islamofascism in Iran or anywhere in the world.
We also do well to recall the example of an Irish-American President-John F. Kennedy-looking at the Communists’ Wall of Shame in Berlin, proclaiming, “Ich bin ein Berliner“-“I am a Berliner.” By so claiming, he helped rally free people of the world that brought down the wall and created a momentum that eventually swept the totalitarian Communist wall-builders into the dustbin of history.
Now the world is facing wall-builders of a different kind: the Islamofascists who have been at their shameless work for centuries. As their walls built with superstition, discrimination, and blood are crumbling; they are intent at building walls in new territories.
But once again, human decency is rising to the challenge. This time in the voice and actions of billions of free people who proclaim: we are also children of Iran in the spirit of Cyrus the Great; “we meet any challenge and pay any price” to defeat Islamofascism; and, we will not rest until humanity is completely free of the despotic rule of Islam.
We Iranians in spirit-free people of the world–greatly cherish liberty, where the mind is imbued with enlightenment, and every individual by the virtue of being born human is afforded measured freedom. It is within the open expanse of liberty that each and every person can be at his or her best. And when the individual person is at his best, humanity is at its best.
Amil Imani is an Iranian-born American citizen and pro-democracy activist residing in the United States of America. He maintains a website,

James Baker’s Terrible Iraq Report

James Baker’s Terrible Iraq Report
By Daniel Pipes | December 13, 2006

The Iraq Study Group Report, cobbled together by ten individuals lacking specialized knowledge of Iraq, dredges up past failed U.S. policies in the Middle East and would enshrine them as current policy.

Most profoundly, regarding the American role in Iraq, the report moronically splits the difference of troops staying or leaving, without ever examining the basic premise of the U.S. government taking responsibility for the country’s minutiae, such as its setting up public works projects. Instead, the report unthinkingly accepts that strategic assumption and only tweaks tactics at the margins.

A preposterously lengthy list of 79 recommendations lies at the heart of the report. These include such gems as bringing in the (Saudi-sponsored) Organization of the Islamic Conference or the Arab League (no. 3) to decide Iraq’s future. Another creates an “Iraq International Support Group” that includes Iran, Syria (no. 5), and the United Nations secretary-general (no. 7).

Other brilliant recommendations call for the UN Security Council to handle the Iranian nuclear problem (no. 10) and for the support group to persuade Tehran to “take specific steps to improve the situation in Iraq” (no. 11). Right. The Iranian regime, whose president envisions a “world without America,” will save Washington’s bacon. Such counsel smacks at best of what the Jerusalem Post calls “staggering naïveté” and at worst of ghastly foolishness.

Of course, small minds assert that problems in Iraq are “inextricably linked” to the Arab-Israeli conflict – thereby repeating the precise mistake that lead co-chairman James A. Baker, III, made in 1991. He then led the effort to abandon the Persian Gulf and turn to the Palestinians, leaving Saddam Hussein in power for another dozen years and contributing directly to the present mess. In the new report, Mr. Baker and his colleagues call for a Palestinian state (no. 12) and even demand that a final settlement address the Palestinian “right of return” (no. 17) – code for dismantling the Jewish state. They peremptorily declare that “the Israelis should return the Golan Heights,” in return for a U.S. security guarantee (no. 16).

Besides the astonishing conceit of these Olympian declarations, one wonders how exactly the Iraqi civil war would be ended by pleasing the Palestinian Arabs. Or why the unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict is any more relevant to Iraq than the unresolved Azeri-Armenian conflict, which is closer to Iraq.

To make matters worse, Mr. Baker had the nerve to admonish the Bush administration not to treat the report’s 79 recommendations “like a fruit salad,” choosing one idea while rejecting another, but to accept it as a whole. Even in Washington, a town famous for arrogance, this statement made heads turn. That Mr. Baker and his co-chairman, Lee Hamilton, sat for a picture spread with famed photographer Annie Liebovitz for Men’s Vogue, a fashion magazine, only confirms the vacuity of their effort, as does their hiring the giant public relations firm, Edelman.

In all, the Iraq Study Group Report offers a unique combination of bureaucratic caution, false bi-partisanship, trite analysis, and conventional bromides.

Although the press reacted to this drivel, in the words of Daniel Henninger writing in the Wall Street Journal, with “neurotic glee,” Robert Kagan and William Kristol deemed it “dead on arrival,” and Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani, called it “dead in the water.” One hopes they are right, that President George W. Bush ignores its recommendations, and that this “new lipstick on a very old pig” (Spencer Ackerman) quickly disappears from sight.

That’s not to say that Mr. Bush should “stay the course,” for that course has not worked. A host of creative ideas have been floated by individuals knowledgeable about Iraq, sympathetic to the administration’s goal of building a free, democratic, and prosperous Iraq, and not tempted to see their role as an exercise in preening. The White House should call on these talented individuals to brainstorm, argue, and emerge with some useful ideas about the future American role in Iraq.

Doing so means breaking with a presidential tradition, going back at least to 1919, of what I call a “know-nothing” Middle East diplomacy. Woodrow Wilson appointed two completely unqualified Americans to head a commission of inquiry to the Levant on the grounds, an aide explained, that Wilson “felt these two men were particularly qualified to go to Syria because they knew nothing about it.” This know-nothing approach failed America 87 years ago and it failed again now.