Two GOP senators opened another line of criticism of President Barack Obama‘s approach to the Middle East on Thursday, this time calling on the administration to more strongly criticize the Syrian government for its deadly crackdown on popular demonstrations and begin engaging the Syrian opposition.
Government violence against protesters in Syria is escalating, with security forces reportedly killing 15 people on Wednesday during a raid on a mosque in the southern city of Deraa. Some reports put the night’s death toll at 37 or more. The State Department put out a statement condemning the deaths and issued a 90-day travel alert on Thursday that warned Americans about the violence surrounding the protests.
Take a deep breath before you read this next part, and sit down if your hypocrisy meter exploding makes you dizzy…
“The Syrian people must know that the United States stands with them against the brutal Assad regime. We can ill afford another timid embrace of a democratic uprising,” the senators said in a Thursday statement. “We urge the President, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Ford to publicly condemn the murders committed by the Assad dictatorship and to demonstrate their support for the Syrian people.”
By invoking Ambassador Robert Ford, Kyl and Kirk are calling for the administration to make good on its argument that the United States needed an ambassador in Damascus to have maximum influence with the Syrian government. Kyl and others Republicans held up the Ford nomination for 10 months because they saw the appointment of any ambassador as a reward to the Syrian regime, and they wanted the administration to more clearly spell out its Syria policy.
The president used a recess appointment for Ford to circumvent the Senate confirmation process. Kyl and Kirk now want Ford to use his perch to condemn the Syrian regime’s crackdown.
“Ambassador Ford should begin a sustained campaign of outreach from the U.S. Embassy in Damascus to the Syrian opposition movement,” they said.
So now that they gameplan is laid out (and Newt probably did it best, with a complete turnabout in two weeks time), here’s round 2….
BTW, did you catch that overload…stall the guy getting appointed, complain how the President did it, then quickly turn around and demand he be more effective at his job, which now seems to have turned from Ambassador to active Revolutionary.
I doubt Obama will do much on Syria at this point. The international support won’t be there as quick, nor as obvious, and it won’t be a case where someone who was working toward democracy recently (Qadaffy [sp] and his brood had been playing relatively nice since 2003) suffered such a dramatic backlash into violent oppression.
People ask a lot, “why not doing everything all the time?” I really hope this isn’t a serious question, or that people realize there are very good and simple answers to it (the question is not the rhetorical genius many who use it think it is). There are always limits on what one can do and what one can accomplish and what resources are on hand to accomplish it and how much time one has to work with.
In the Libya case, it seems pretty evident that the committment/reward ratio is relatively high (one would hope..at this point it appears that way…the rebels want democracy badly enough to fight and die for it and Khaddaffi’s [sp] forces can be stopped with little risk). In Syria it looks far more like the Iraq version of the equation, requiring a much larger committment against a fully armed and ready foe, not a country already torn asunder by a people’s movement.
We’ll see how it plays out, but if these guys really want to go to war with Syria, how about playing it straight and sticking to your guns, if you will, for more than a fortnight?