Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pol of the Day: Tom Lantos

From The Wall Street Journal's Political Diary:

Dutch Treat

Guantanamo Bay is likely to close as the chief U.S. prison for terrorist suspects in the next year or so, but that doesn't mean it's stopped hosting delegations of outraged Europeans who want to make grandstanding points against the U.S.

Happily, at least one U.S. lawmaker has called some of the European headline-hunters on the carpet. During a recent meeting in Washington with Dutch parliamentarians who had just come from the U.S. Naval base in Cuba, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Lantos minced no words. On being informed by the Dutch lawmakers that the prison was an abomination, the California Democrat coolly replied that "Europe was not as outraged by Auschwitz as by Guantanamo Bay."

Mr. Lantos, an 84-year-old Holocaust survivor, wasn't done yet. He offered advice to Dutch politicians who are debating whether to keep sending 1,600 troops to Afghanistan as part of the NATO mission there: "You have to help us, because if it was not for us, you would now be a province of Nazi Germany."

The Dutch did not take kindly to Mr. Lantos' perspective. "The comments killed the debate," Harry van Bommel, a member of the Dutch Socialist Party, told reporters. "It was insulting and counterproductive."

Perhaps, but it was also a refreshing departure from the normally vapid "diplomospeak" that such meetings are usually conducted in.

-- John Fund

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