Saturday, September 07, 2013

When Betty Met Bashar

Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-4) was against the Obama administration’s militaristic approach to handling Syria:

“Now is the time for measures that will bring strategic pressure to prevent an escalation of the conflict, rather than add to the wanton violence of a situation already out of control. Unilateral U.S. military action against the Syrian regime at this time would do nothing to advance American interests, but would certainly fuel extremist groups on both sides of the conflict that are determined to expand the bloodshed beyond Syria’s borders.”

Before she was for it:

“Having been briefed by the White House, the intelligence is undeniable that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons to gas and kill innocent civilians. This is a crime against humanity that requires an unequivocal response from the U.S. and the international community. To do nothing and allow Syrian President Assad and his generals’ impunity following such an atrocity would undermine the most fundamental global norms of conduct that keep Americans safe while directly putting at risk our key regional allies – Jordan, Turkey, and Israel.

As I have stated previously, the U.S. should not take unilateral military action, but it is clear the Obama Administration is making significant diplomatic efforts to seek support from a host of nations, especially Arab League nations, for a limited military strike.”

What a difference six days make!

Betty McCollum mongering for war, never thought I’d see it.  I take this as evidence that Congressional Democrat leadership thinks that the vote will be so close they can’t even let bleeding hearts off the hook to vote their conscience or serve their constituents. Instead, they’re forced to expose them in the act of serving their real master, the Party. 

To be fair, maybe McCollum is suffering from confusion based on past experience.  Because the last time she hung out with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, he was a great guy!  Flashback to 2007:

Rep. Betty McCollum praised the Syrian government's response to Iraqi refugees in the country following a meeting Wednesday with Syrian President Bashar Assad. "Under his leadership, the Syrian government is allowing Iraqi children to attend school, and they're working through the Red Crescent to provide basic health care," McCollum said in a telephone interview from the Syrian capital, Damascus.

After one meeting, Betty McCollum testified to the world about the Syrian dictator’s great leadership and kindness.  And now he’s gassing his own people.  Any local media types think that might be a story to follow up on?  Get some first person insight from Rep. McCollum about the measure of the man and how she could have been so wrong in her very public assessment of him?

Speaking of McCollum’s powers of discernment, more from the road to Damascus in 2007:

Syria has tightened visa rules for Iraqis to try to prod people to return home and keep new refugees from coming. "They're very concerned about how much Damascus can absorb," McCollum said. "They're saying at some point, what more can they do?" McCollum said the refugees told her they were desperate for peace in their lives. "They live day-to-day," she said. "They've lost everything. A lot of these people are professionals -- doctors, teachers, journalists. They saw their lives deteriorate due to crime and sectarian violence."

One woman bluntly told McCollum, "I wouldn't be here today if you hadn't attacked my country," according to the congresswoman. "I said I'm only one of 435, and I was on the losing end of that vote, and I apologized," she said.

Beyond the propriety of apologizing for US policy while she was travelling in the capacity of an official government representative, an interesting comment about McCollum voting against the Iraq war.  As you may recall one of the justifications by the Bush administration for US intervention in Iraq was the use of chemical weapons by the Iraqi dictator against his own people.  And McCollum vehemently voted against it.  

But when a Syrian dictator uses chemical weapons against his own people and the Obama administration uses it as justification for a military strike?

This is a crime against humanity that requires an unequivocal response from the U.S. and the international community.

It’s almost as if her vote is based on some other variable than a dictator using chemical weapons against his own people.

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