In political jargon, the term "useful idiot" was used during the Cold War by anti-communists to describe Soviet sympathizers in western countries (particularly in the United States) and the alleged attitude of the Soviet government towards them. The implication was that the person in question was naïve, foolish, or in willful denial, and that he or she was being cynically used by the Soviet Union, or another Communist state. The term is still in use and used more broadly to describe someone who is perceived to be manipulated by political movement, terrorist group, or hostile government, whether or not the group is Communist in nature. - Wikipedia
Here are some comments about his trip from the White House:
WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House sharply criticized a US senator's trip to Syria "not helpful" and "not appropriate" and warned Damascus not to see the visit as an indirect overture from Washington.
"Even lending a further specter of legitimacy to that government undermines the cause of democracy in the region," spokesman Tony Snow said after Democratic Senator Ben Nelson met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
"The Syrians have been adventurous and meddlesome in Iraq, and in Lebanon, and working against the causes of democracy in both of those countries," Snow said. "It's absolutely vital that the democracies succeed in both places."
"And therefore, the Syrians should have absolutely no doubt that the position of the United States government is the same as it has been," he said, as US President George W. Bush bucked pressure to discuss Iraq with Syria. - Yahoo News
"It's important to engage in some kind of discussion," added Kerry, on a nine-day tour that also includes stops in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, and the West Bank.
"It's important to ask questions, to probe, and to get a feel for what the dynamics are, and I'm confident that I can share those with the administration." - Boston.com
Specter says the situation in Iraq is so dire that it is time Congress step up to the plate and see what it can do. He says he and other Republicans are concerned that the administration's policies in the Middle East are not working.The visit, coming on the heels of a trip by Florida Senator Bill Nelson, would be a direct affront to the White House. The United States has limited diplomatic ties with Syria because of its support for Hezbollah and Hamas, which the U.S. deems terrorist organizations. - WHPTV.com
Victor Davis Hanson has thoughts about Iraq and includes the following about the rogue Senators circumventing official foreign policy:
Nota bene: Senator Nelson just returned from talking in Mr. Assad’s Syria—the serial murderer of Lebanese reformers, the clearinghouse for Hezbollah, the refuge for the killers of Americans in Iraq—with assurances that Syria wishes to be a stabilizing factor in the region.I don't understand why this is so difficult. Dialog just encourages them to act bolder. See the YEARS of useless negotiations the EU3 endured in a useless attempt to stop the Iranians from continuing their nuclear bomb program. Even the Iranians admitted that it was just to delay talk of sanctions.
Sen. Kerry in Cairo just praised Hosni Mubarak, lauding him by chastising President Bush’s failure to listen to this voice of reason and his criticisms of the United States. And why not listen to such advice, since this autocrat has been the recipient of billions in American aid, while squelching all reform for some thirty years in the bargain?
No doubt Kerry also lectured Mubarak about once hyping the WMD threat (“Mubarak lied, thousands died?”). Remember, the Egyptian strongman, as part of his reservations about Iraq, had warned our generals that American troops would be targeted with gasses of all sorts by Saddam.
Kerry also called for new talks with Iran—a rogue state presently in the middle of uranium enrichment, supplying IEDs to the militias in Iraq, promising to wipe out Israel, and hosting a Holocaust denial love fest in Teheran. Surely if the senator once denigrated our own soldiers as terrorizing Iraqis he can at least say that Iranians do the same? - VDH
Useful idiots indeed.
Update: 20 December 2006
Senator Kerry has had his meeting with President Assad of Syria.