“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.