Waffles meets with Assad in Damascus

You know I’m only posting this as a “second-order distraction” to avoid writing about how horrible conditions are in Iraq, right? I mean, if you’d asked me yesterday whether Kerry chatting with the leader of an insurgent launching pad in contravention of Bush’s foreign policy had news value, I’d have told you yes; but then I read Opinion Journal this morning and realized that’s only because I can’t face the truth.

Presumably that goes double for the thousand items Opinion Journal editor James Taranto has written about the haughty, French-looking Massachusetts Democrat who by the way served in Vietnam. Perhaps he’ll also have had an awakening by the time BOTW comes out later today.

So here it is. Don’t think of Iraq!


He had no comment after the meeting.

If you want something to think about, think about the irony of a news report exposing a secret administration plan to pressure Assad while acknowledging that the success of the plan depends upon its secrecy.

The Bush Administration has been quietly nurturing individuals and parties opposed to the Syrian government in an effort to undermine the regime of President Bashar Assad. Parts of the scheme are outlined in a classified, two-page document which says that the U.S. already is “supporting regular meetings of internal and diaspora Syrian activists” in Europe. The document bluntly expresses the hope that “these meetings will facilitate a more coherent strategy and plan of actions for all anti-Assad activists.”

The document says that Syria’s legislative elections, scheduled for March 2007, “provide a potentially galvanizing issue for… critics of the Assad regime.” To capitalize on that opportunity, the document proposes a secret “election monitoring” scheme, in which “internet accessible materials will be available for printing and dissemination by activists inside the country [Syria] and neighboring countries.” The proposal also calls for surreptitiously giving money to at least one Syrian politician who, according to the document, intends to run in the election. The effort would also include “voter education campaigns” and public opinion polling, with the first poll “tentatively scheduled in early 2007.”…

However, in order to make the “election monitoring” plan for Syria effective, the proposal makes clear that the U.S. effort will have to be concealed: “Any information regarding funding for domestic [Syrian] politicians for elections monitoring would have to be protected from public dissemination,” the document says. But American experts on “democracy promotion” consulted by TIME say it would be unwise to give financial support to a specific candidate in the election, because of the perceived conflict of interest. More ominously, an official familiar with the document explained that secrecy is necessary in part because Syria’s government might retaliate against anyone inside the country who was seen as supporting the U.S.-backed election effort.

Time predicts that “some in Congress would undoubtedly raise objections” to the plan. I wonder who they have in mind.