NARDI: Senator Joe Lieberman (Hack-Connecticut)

Tom Nardi

Generally speaking, I don’t like Arlen Specter. In my estimation, he is a political coward. He likes to talk a big game, as we could all see during his tenure as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He would make loud claims about how the Bush administration was breaking the law – which it was and is still – and then proceed to do nothing about it.

But I will give Senator Specter credit; he looks dazzling when compared to Joe Lieberman. The pair was on CNN’s “Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer” on Sunday. Briefly, they touched on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Syria to meet with President Bashar al-Assad. Then, Lieberman had a huge platform from which to show his ignorance.

Lieberman denounced Pelosi’s trip as a legitimization of the Syrian government (which, apparently doesn’t exist as long as we ignore it). But what was even better was the rationale given for belittling Pelosi’s efforts at international diplomacy.

“We’re in a war,” Lieberman said, “against the Islamic terrorists who attacked us on 9-11-01. Syria is a state sponsor of terrorism.”

Did you hear that guys? Lieberman has come down from on high in order to reveal to us mere mortals the connection between Syria and Sept. 11. Syria harbors Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. They are terrorist organizations. Al Qaeda, another terrorist organization, attacked us on Sept. 11. Therefore, Syria attacked us on Sept. 11. Of course! I assume planes will be flying out to bomb Damascus soon.

Then again, there is that inconvenient little part where Lieberman has no idea what he’s talking about. Now, I’m not suggesting by any means that Syria is a nice country or that Bashar al-Assad isn’t an autocrat. But as Arlen said, “Assad is not a boy scout, but we have to deal with him. He’s there.”

People like Lieberman live in a parallel universe, where ignoring your problems makes them go away. Don’t like Iran? Throw a fit when the European Union negotiates with Tehran! Don’t like North Korea? Throw a fit when Clinton negotiates with Pyongyang. Don’t like Syria? Demonize Pelosi for actually trying to talk to the Syrians. Can’t catch bin Laden? Invade Iraq and forget about him.

Lieberman has traditionally carried the mark of a Democrat. But Lieberman isn’t anything close to a Democrat. He is a neo-conservative in the fullest sense of that ideology; if you don’t like a foreign country, lob a missile at them and ask questions later. He’s a hack, with no knowledge of and plenty of contempt for the nuances of international diplomacy.

Granted, America is at war. It is important that we present a unified vision of where we want to go as a country. But that doesn’t mean we should stick our heads in the sand and chalk up diplomatic defeats to the na’ve assumption that 300 million people need to think alike.

Ronald Reagan, the hero of conservatives like Lieberman and his ilk, once deemed the Soviet Union an “Evil Empire.” But he went from there and launched an astounding diplomatic effort with the county and “Gorby” in order for our nation and theirs to move forward.

As the State Department itself admits, “Syria’s public support for [terrorist groups] varied, depending on … international pressure.” America is a player in the world community, and while we might style ourselves as the referee, we are still subject to the rules of the game. It’s time Lieberman and people like him woke up to reality and started playing. When that happens we’ll all be better off.

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Tom Nardi is a junior political science major from Philadelphia, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected]