DON'T BE TOO SHOCKED – SICKENED YES, SHOCKED NO – AT 8:59 A.M. ET: Apparently, Syria, having given us nothing, will get some neat gifts from the United States:
WASHINGTON—The State Department has dispatched a high-level diplomatic and trade mission to Syria, according to senior U.S. officials, marking the latest bid by the Obama administration to woo President Bashar al-Assad away from his strategic alliance with Iran.
The U.S. delegation comprises senior executives from some of America's top technology companies, including Microsoft Corp., Dell Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and Symantec Corp., according to the U.S. officials. All these companies' businesses in Syria are constrained by U.S. sanctions.
The mission is controversial, given recent U.S. allegations that Syria transferred missiles to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Syria, Hezbollah and Lebanon deny the allegations.
U.S. officials said the business delegation will meet with Mr. Assad and his cabinet and seek to facilitate the flow of information technology into the Arab state, which is ranked by watchdog group Freedom House as among the most repressive in the world.
COMMENT: Well, Hillary Clinton is secretary of state, and her husband, as president, transferred sensitive technology to China. So I'm not entirely shocked by this move. But it would be disgraceful to give Syria anything, even a handshake, unless we're guaranteed something of value in return, like a change in Syrian friendship with Iran.
One more act of appeasement, one more demonstration that the loyalties of this administration lie with the Muslim world.
June 16, 2010