With slight of hand and a conman's misdirection, Syria's tyrant Bashar Assad wined and dined U.S. Representatives in his elegant offices, and the naïve and willingly gullible Americans fell for it, and continue falling and falling.
A few years back, while courting the suave Assad, the fawning Americans failed to notice what was going on behind their backs. Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of our most seasoned diplomats, assured us that "The U.S. and Syria have a shared interest in stability in the region" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi viewed Syria as a reliable partner for peace. "Syria is willing to resume peace talks with Israel" and hailed Assad as a "model Arab leader." Former President Jimmy Carter echoed the U.S. assessment of Syria's peaceful intentions toward Israel. "In all my conversations with President Assad, whom I've known since he was a college student, I was impressed with [his] eagerness to complete the agreement on the Golan Heights. President Bashar Assad is eager to restart negotiations with Israel... " All the while, Assad was preparing a little surprise: the construction of a nuclear reactor for the destruction of his Jewish neighbors. Fortunately the less gullible Israelis destroyed the nuclear facility.
One would expect more skeptical U.S. attitude toward Assad after such a huge deception. In fact, we should have counted our fingers after shaking hands with him. On the contrary, the United States has recently gone out of its way to court and defend the Assad regime.
Assad has given us many more causes to doubt his good intentions. His reign has been described as, "a horror show of repression, torture, assassination, disappearances, and the near-total denial of civil and political liberties." Syria holds the largest number of political prisoners of any Arab country according to Amnesty International. Bashar Assad, "knowingly harbors and gives financial aid, political support, artillery and military training to terrorist organizations, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Hezb'allah and other extremist groups whose mission is to destroy Israel and terrorize Israeli citizens... Syria provides financial, training, weapons, and explosives, political, diplomatic aid to Hezbollah " (The Israel Project)
Yet U.S. representatives such as Senator John Kerry and Rep. Howard Berman continue to provide Assad photo ops and legitimacy. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, who has met with Mr. Assad several times in the past two years, declared: "I remain absolutely convinced there is an opportunity to have a different relationship with Syria."
Now Assad's security forces are openly slaughtering marchers in cities around the country and the Syrian government showing "... no qualms about shooting dead its own citizens for speaking out. Syrians have shown incredible courage in daring to protest publicly against one of the most repressive governments in the region, and they shouldn't have to pay with their lives." (Sarah Leah Whitson, HRW's Middle East and North Africa director,) Still Mr. Kerry holds hope for the Damascus dictator. Says Mr. Kerry: "It's a seminal moment. . . . You have to find out what they [the Syrian regime] are prepared to do."
Quoting Kerry and the others in the delusional lot, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton actually gave Assad her seal of approval. "Members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he's a reformer.'' Given a few pretty words, these American leaders would label Caligula a "reformer."
We luckily avoided a nuclear catastrophe because the Israelis have learned not to trust empty promises of their neighbors. The decimated reactor should have been a warning and learning experience from which we emerged wiser and better able to cope with the machinations of tyrants. Now as blood flows on the streets of Syria, we remain the same foolish tools we were before. We have failed to grow up. Shame on us and pity the world!