“Sonny” Pelosi: Are the Democrats Seeking a “Separate Peace” with Syria?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is set to visit Syria for a meeting with a regime that the Bush administration has called a state sponsor of terrorism. Needless to say the White House is not exactly pleased.
The best way to explain the logic of the White House’s displeasure is to recall a scene from The Godfather. The Tattaglia Family, a rival to the family of Don Vito Corleone, has proposed that the Don enter the narcotics business. A meeting is scheduled, attended by the chief spokesman and assassin for the Tattaglias—Virgil “The Turk” Sollozo—and for the Corleones, the Don, his sons Fredo and Sonny, as well as the Don’s lieutenants, Clemenza and Tessio, and the Corleone family lawyer, Tom Hagen.
The Don is an old line Mafioso and rejects the proposal.
“I must say no to you, and I’ll give you my reasons. It’s true. I have a lot of friends in politics, but they wouldn’t be friendly very long if they knew my business was drugs instead of gambling, which they rule that as a – a harmless vice. But drugs is a dirty business…It makes, it doesn’t make any difference to me what a man does for a living, understand. But your business, is uh, a little dangerous.”
But during the meeting, Sonny reveals his disagreement with his father’s decision when he blurts out his enthusiastic support for getting into the drug business.
Clemenza and Tom are dismayed by Sonny’s outburts. The Don diplomatically reprimands Sonny in Sollozo’s presence: “I have a sentimental weakness for my children, and I spoil them, as you can see. They talk when they should listen.”
After Sollozo has departed, the Don rebukes Sonny. “Whatsa matter with you? I think your brain’s goin’ soft (from too much sex)…Never tell anybody outside the family what you’re thinking again.”
The Don realizes that Sollozo believes that the Corleones would cooperate if Vito were to be eliminated. He is, of course, correct. It is not long before the Don is gunned down by the Tattaglias.
The lesson for us of Pelosi in Syria is not that the United States is a big crime family (although that is certainly an accepted view on the American Left), but that divided counsel may lead an adversary to believe that he can hold out for a more favorable deal. The principle lies at the foundation of the decision by the American Founders to create a unitary executive, capable of energy and dispatch in foreign affairs. The Senate certainly has a role in foreign affairs, but the president has the lead. Pelosi’s attempt to carry out an alternative foreign policy cannot help but undercut the country.
We went through this in he 1980s. I worked for a US Senator when the Democrats were pushing their own foreign policy in opposition to that of President Reagan in Latin America and vis a vis the Soviet Union. I still believe that the Democrats prolonged the Cold War because the Soviets thought they could wait for a better deal from Reagan’s congressional opponents.
As the New York Sun editorialized on April 2,
“Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Syria, due to take place today, raises the question of whether the Democrats are prepared to seek a separate peace. When America was serious about war such a trip would have been seen as a scandal. At Casablanca, say, Roosevelt and Churchill decided, as one U.S. government Web site recounts, ‘that no peace would be concluded except on the basis of unconditional surrender.’ Roosevelt wanted ‘to assure the people of all the fighting nations that no separate peace negotiations would be carried on with representatives of Fascism and Nazism and there would be no compromise of the war’s idealistic objectives.'”
By the way, Sonny Corleone ended up a casualty of the gang war he helped to precipitate.

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17 years ago

via the AP the day before…
“Pelosi is conveying that Israel is willing to talk if they (Syria) would openly take steps to stop supporting terrorism,” Olmert’s spokeswoman Miri Eisin said. “But at this point the Syrian government, by openly backing terror all around the Middle East, is not a partner for negotiations.”
Israel and Syria are sworn enemies, though peace talks came close to success in 2000 before breaking down. Israel charges that Syria-based Palestinian militants are directing violence against it from the West Bank and Gaza.
Washington also considers Syria a sponsor of terror and had asked Pelosi not to visit Damascus.
“I think most Americans would not think that the leader of the Democratic Party in the Congress should be meeting with the heads of a state sponsor of terror,” White House counselor Dan Bartlett said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Pelosi said Sunday she will raise the issue of two Israeli soldiers captured by the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah and a third captured by Palestinian militants last year with Syrian President Bashar Assad when she meets with him. The delegation met with the families of the three soldiers during the visit to Israel.
me now:
Like most things in the Bush White House, half of the truth is getting through. Pelosi isn’t trying to create some separate peace with Syria. What she is trying to do is get them to actually come to the table about dealing with terrorism, something Bush has failed to do with most nations in the world. Hell, the Israeli government seems almost glad she is doing it.

17 years ago

I think it’s worth asking: is it just as troubling when Republicans go to Syria?

17 years ago

Love the Godfather reference. That scene is one of the best, although it is difficult to single out any particular scene given the greatness of the entire movie.
“it’s not personal, sonny . . . it’s business”

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