The Iraq Study Group strikes again

LOUAI BESHARA/AFP U.S. administrations always get nervous when members of Congress make trips to foreign capitals, and especially when they’re from the political opposition. So it’s no surprise that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is catching flak for today’s visit to Damascus, where she’s already met with Syria’s foreign minister. With her is Tom Lantos, chairman ...

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602873_070403_pelosi_05.jpg

LOUAI BESHARA/AFP

U.S. administrations always get nervous when members of Congress make trips to foreign capitals, and especially when they're from the political opposition. So it's no surprise that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is catching flak for today's visit to Damascus, where she's already met with Syria's foreign minister. With her is Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, who has a history of opening up contacts with countries on Washington's list of rogue states. A Republican delegation led by Frank Wolf of Virginia, another influential member of the House, met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday.

The White House tried to discourage Wolf, and called Pelosi's trip to Syria a "really bad idea." David Schenker of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy complained to the San Francisco Chronicle that "she's undermining the policy" of keeping Syria isolated.

LOUAI BESHARA/AFP

U.S. administrations always get nervous when members of Congress make trips to foreign capitals, and especially when they’re from the political opposition. So it’s no surprise that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is catching flak for today’s visit to Damascus, where she’s already met with Syria’s foreign minister. With her is Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, who has a history of opening up contacts with countries on Washington’s list of rogue states. A Republican delegation led by Frank Wolf of Virginia, another influential member of the House, met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday.

The White House tried to discourage Wolf, and called Pelosi’s trip to Syria a “really bad idea.” David Schenker of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy complained to the San Francisco Chronicle that “she’s undermining the policy” of keeping Syria isolated.

The White House wants to keep the pressure on the Syrian regime, pinning its hopes on a U.N. investigation into the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri that has dragged on into its second year and still hasn’t provided conclusive evidence of Syrian involvement. By visiting Damascus, Congress is pointedly underscoring its doubts about the wisdom of this approach.

Exploring diplomacy with Syria is just the latest of the many recommendations of the Iraq Study Group that are quietly moving forward, argues FP senior editor Mike Boyer in a new web exclusive for ForeignPolicy.com, Mission Accomplished. Democrats and Republicans alike pooh-poohed the report when it came out in December, but both the White House and Congress have more or less embraced its logic anyway. Why is that? Read the piece to find out.

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