Five years ago today, then-House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi defied President George Bush's strategy of isolating Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad by going to Damascus. "We do not encourage and, in fact, we discourage members of Congress to make such visits to Syria," the White House spokesman said, calling Syria "a state sponsor of terror."
To Pelosi, the Syrian dictator was a Western-educated reformer. "We came in friendship, hope, and determined that the road to Damascus is a road to peace," she told reporters.
The Syrian regime used the meeting to its full propaganda advantage. Unbeknownst to Pelosi, Syria was scrambling to put the final touches on a covert nuclear facility, and Syrian dissidents dove for cover, noting correctly that Assad would interpret the end of his US isolation as a green light for murder.
Assad, in hindsight, welcomed Pelosi not for a sincere dialogue, but rather as a useful idiot who might help relieve him of international pressure. Five years later, Assad hasn't changed, and neither has Pelosi.