Kerry Exposed on Syria

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In his recent letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal,[1] Senator Kerry took to task Professor Fuad Ajami for his assertions in an earlier WSJ essay.[2] Ajami summarized four decades of the Assad regime’s tyranny, oppression and mass murder of its own people, and criticized America’s failed policy toward Syria: a policy consisting of nothing more than a “waiting for Godot” stance, while quietly urging young Bashar to mend his ways as he, his father’s true son, slaughters his own people and sends terrorists into Iraq to murder Americans.  David Brooks aptly describes these actions as depraved,[3] yet Obama has been “keen to engage” Syria, and Senator Kerry has argued that Bashar Assad was “at heart a reformer” eager to align with the West.[4]

Professor Ajami concluded that now, with Syria’s “Arab Spring” drowning in the blood of thousands of unarmed Syrians, our administration can no longer pretend that the Syrian savage is a “moderate,” and “at heart a reformer,” who will, someday soon, distance himself from Iran and from nuclear aspirations, reform his political system, free jailed dissidents, seek rapprochement with the west, and make peace with Israel.

In his rejoinder, Kerry denies ever having stated that Bashar al-Assad was a reformer or eager for political relations with the West. But in this assertion, Senator Kerry shows himself to be somewhat less than honest.  Kerry was a strong supporter of the Obama decision to re-engage Assad and send an ambassador to Damascus, more than five years after President G. W. Bush severed US relations with Syria due to Assad’s implication in the murder of Rafik Hariri, former Prime Minister of Lebanon.[5]

Kerry was a regular visitor to Damascus, and in an interview he voiced the glowingly optimistic assessment that he has

“[…] been a believer for some period of time that we could make progress in that relationship […] President Assad has been very generous with me in terms of the discussions we have had […] So my judgment is that Syria will move; Syria will change, as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States and the West and economic opportunity that comes with it and the participation that comes with it.”[6]

This sounds very much like Kerry did indeed feel that young Bashar was willing to reform, and eager for relations with the West. Perhaps Senator Kerry has a short memory, or hopes that we do.

Kerry was not alone in his misguided belief in Assad’s essential goodness. In addition to Secretaries of State James Baker and Henry Kissinger and Senator Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke in the same glowing terms about Assad and the Syrian regime.[7]

But Kerry tells us now that he knew all along that Assad was a brutal oppressive dictator, ruling with an iron hand, heir to a family tradition of savage slaughter, and closely linked to the equally repressive Iranian Mullahs.  Yet Kerry figured that if he made nice, spoke in a kindly and optimistic manner, and glad-handed the dictator a few times, the young tyrant would come around and see that aligning with the West would improve his chances of survival.  So what Kerry has told us, perhaps without meaning to, is that either he was a dupe who thought that the Syrian savage was really a nice guy at heart, and is now lying about his folly, or he knew Bashar for what he was but thought that a few kind words and shiny coins would peel him away from Iran and turn him into a gentler kinder ruler.

Either way, Kerry looks foolish. But Kerry is not alone in this folly. Unmentioned in Kerry’s letter are two other examples of similar catastrophic ersatz diplomacy toward Syria. In April of 2007 then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made an unofficial state visit to Syria.  Bedecked in a winning smile and modest Muslim headgear, Ms. Pelosi’s glowing approval of the young dictator, and her refusal to mention even once the issue of Syria’s abysmal record of human rights abuses, set back by decades the cause of freedom in Syria.  Syrians most sympathetic to western progressive values were the most critical of Ms. Pelosi’s attempts to begin a dialogue with Syria’s government. Many Syrian dissidents and pro-democracy activists expressed dismay at Ms. Pelosi’s message of friendship to Assad, and asserted that her visit effectively pulled the rug out from under them, critically damaging their efforts to create momentum for reform from within Syria. “Pelosi’s visit made the regime feel that Americans were divided on how to deal with Syria… This sends a message to the regime that the pressure is off, that it can do what it likes.”[8]

In fact, one opposition leader who succeeded in fleeing Syria after imprisonment and torture, Muhammad Ma’moun Homsi, wrote Pelosi begging her to cancel her trip because of the signals it would send to Assad.  And indeed, within days after Pelosi’s departure, Assad started a new wave of terror against human rights activists, rounding up scores, imprisoning and torturing them, and sentencing the leaders among them to long prison terms,[9] including Anwar al-Bunni, Syria’s version of Natan Sharansky.[10]

President Obama seems to be engaged in a similar kind of misguided faux diplomacy toward Syria.  His patient insistence on “engagement,” and his inaction regarding the current massacres, even as Assad responds to the “Arab Spring” with all the depravity of his father’s response to the Muslim Brotherhood insurgence in 1982,[11] are seen incredulously by our allies in Europe and the Arab world as our President’s tacit nod of approval to Syria, and by extension to Iran.

The first problem with this kind of “glad-hand the butcher” diplomacy is that the expectation is akin to suggesting that a few friendly pats on the back would have turned George Manson into a model citizen.

The second problem is that even if Bashar were amenable to a turn to the West, he still could not do it and survive.

The Assad regime is Alawite.[12] The Alawites are an unusual religious group, putatively Muslim but regarded by many Muslims as heretical. They are a small minority and thoroughly despised by most Syrian Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Since Hafez el-Assad’s rise to power in 1970, the Assad family cemented its control over the majority Sunni of Syria by infiltrating Alawite kinsmen into leadership positions in every institution of power and influence in Syria, thereby assuring the Assad regime’s rule over the much larger majority Sunni Arabs of Syria.

Ab origine, it has been a political necessity for the Assad Alawite regime to be more Arab than the Arabs, more Muslim than the Muslims. This means that any abatement in Syrian commitment to the destruction of Israel, which would be looked upon as treason by all too many Sunni Arab leaders and rank-and-file in Syria and elsewhere, could never be countenanced.  Both Assads have used the dynamics of a so-called “peace process” to distract their citizenry from the regime’s crimes and failures, and to dissuade western leaders from pursuing sanctions against the regime. “The whole Syrian ‘peace initiative’ is a smokescreen,” say some Syrian human rights activists. “The regime wants to be insulated from the (UN’s Hariri) tribunal.”[13] Thus, Bashar may not want to start a war, but he cannot make peace.  Hence a sham “peace process” protracted for decades has been the ideal solution for both Assads.

Bashar, since his unexpected rise to power in 2000,[14] has found Shiite Iran to be his most reliable ally; both because the ideological gap between the Alawi faith and Shi’a Islam is less formidable than between Alawi and Sunni, and because his linkage with Iran, one of Israel’s and America’s most outspoken and formidable enemies, burnishes Assad’s credentials in the Muslim world as a bulwark against the “Great Satan,” as a stalwart defender of the so-called sacred Islamic waqf of “Palestine” and as the would-be liberator of the Palestinians.[15]

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  • sam

    the sad thing is that everyone shows and says whatever suits their interest, we have seen this all before, its propaganda. I am syrian and was in syria only last month and i have seen what has been happening there and the images that foreign media have shown is that there is no one but the army attacking civilians, this is not true – the army are helpless against these individuals who are doing everything they can to stir sectarian violence amongst the population. Those who are firing at civilians are members of the islamic brotherhood, they want to rule syria and make us live under their way of life not the true islamic way as it should be. They are attacking the christian / alawite's / druze and even sunni population who do not join them; then blaming the army and police for their terrorist acts; but one thing is clear in syria as i have spoken with many locals from different sects is that they all love their president and most importantly they love syria. The army have been attacked, killed and butchered by these so called true muslims. they are no better than al-qaeda who are funded and supported by the so called kingdom of saudi arabia. They have done this before in Lebanon, they have attacked the shi'a population in Bahrain, if they win I can guarantee you the west will not be safe, you will have hundreds or even thousands of bin laden's on your door step. So please keep writing all your lies that Bashar is a criminal and he kills his own people so you can play with the minds of your readers. Forget the crimes committed by other governments in the region, forget what the Israelis have done and forget about what sick crimes the saudi kingdom have carried out and continue to plan.

    • welldoneson

      Thank you for that, Sam, myself (and others who know a lot more than I do) have been saying for months that the "Arab Spring" is really just a widespread Islamist uprising.
      Rebels in Libya have looted gov't munition stores and sold them to Hamas.
      Egypt has now renewed ties with Iran and is talking about breaking the Sinai treaty with Israel. All this has come about following Obama's mid-term loss and Israel discovering natural gas off their coast. Coincidence? I think not. George Soros spoke of a "coming unrest" in Islamic countries months before this started. Don't put anything beneath that ugly old Nazi collaborator. He's trying to destroy the U.S. and he owns Obama.

      • jonah

        well I certainly do agree that Obama is a hired lackey… the arabs and their aspirations are nothing but western fiction spun to keep the illusions going. when the islamists take these countries, there will be more serious consequences in the end… they and their violent, demonized religion will be defeated in blood.

  • jacob

    I guess you guys have my number, which is why this time I will rather fully abstain
    from posting any comments…

    The above comment is at least THREE TIMES as long as the one I tried to post and
    first it was rejected for excessively long and after shorten it, it was going to be
    checked by the "Political Correctness" editor for publising or else…..

    Rest assured this "AK" will not bother youy any more…

    • mlcblog


  • StephenD

    All we can go on is what the government of Syria does and who it has aligned itself with. They support terrorists and call for the destruction of Israel. We need go no further. Syria is not a friend. We have no dog in this fight. It is a civil war; the same with all the other uprisings. All we should do is make it clear we will support our only friend in the area that holds to our values…Israel. Everyone else is on their own.

    • CHARLEY 60

      I think this is another need for a Seal Actiion. As we had to to do in Vietnam, go out with the choppers and collect up a few dozen of the killed families in nets. Bring them to America and dump them on the steps of Congress. Nothing short of that will jar them to put aside politics with each other and deal with the problem.

  • American_Flag

    Sen. John Kerry is a disgrace to all Americans…he is a sell-out and a traitor. Any story associated with John Kerry makes me sick to my senses, and I'm sorry – – – I could not read the entire article. I am sorry guys…

    • mlcblog

      I remember when I was a leftist tool. Kerry was admired and renowned by word of mouth because he threw his medals over the fence in a feeble gesture to "give them back." I loved it when his actual earning of the medals was later debunked by his own Swift Boat companions.

  • RobHoey

    Kerry is an embarrassment to the USA with his 4 months in Vietnam and his home videos of his fake heroism. The Swiftboaters knew him for who he is, but the MSM always supports liberals. Beyond that, his Harvard scores were well below those of GW Bush, who Kerry called an "idiot." Kerry also dropped out of Vanderbilt because he couldn't hack it. Just another phony liberal who put down Nam vets, calling us baby killers, racists, etc., when this anal sphincter is truly anti-Israel. He rots.

    • Jim_C

      That Kerry served to pad his resume is not that unusual. People enlist for all sorts of reasons; at least he served. Throwing "his" medals over the fence? Cheesy, but gutsy, I guess. Later, displaying his medals (the ones he threw turned out not to be his) in his office? Unforgivably phony.

  • steven l

    So many US citizens claim to know foreign policy and in particular how to deal with Arab Muslims.
    Just like the US had no one who understood Arabic they still are ignorant of a fundamental Koranic notion: taqiyya or the art of deceiving.
    Kerry shows like many others, that they are just IGNORANT on how to deal with Muslims.
    They need to learn fundamentals about the Koran, Sharia and Muslims.
    But they are for quick fix thinking that power is enough!
    Learn about TAQIYYA and you will understand a lot.

  • Jim_C

    Well I bet they're both true naratives. Which is not unlike Iraq, or most (all?) other Arab countries. You have your brutal dictator, your Islamists chomping at the bit, and your secular democratic reformists (or whatever you want to call them).

    Of these three, it is the first two who are most organized, armed, and willing to fight.

    And until that last group is organized and willing to fight, we need to realize–there's not much we can do to help them. because if you try to, beforehand–you'll probably get played.

    An Iraqi man once summed up the last group's position thus: "Thank you. Now get out of our country. And take us with you."

  • Jim_C

    I thought Kerry was a poor candidate. I knew when he saluted at the convention it was all over. I cringed.

  • Ghostwriter

    Like President Obama,Senator Kerry is a fool for believing that the Assad regime is anything other than a dictatorship. He,like Obama,believes that everyone can be talked to. Unfortunately for them,reality isn't matching with their rose-colored fantasy world. There are evil people in the world and the Assad regime is among them.

  • Henach

    What is so unusual about John Kerry is that he sought to collect defamations of US servicemen and to publicize them at a Congressional hearing. His motive, apparently, in doing this was to advance his own political career.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    What has John Kerry done for his Country, nothing. What has John Kerry done
    for himself, all he could with the help of a degenerate populace voting him into
    office. The sickening part of him is that he represents so many Americans that
    are fallen people, made worthless and hideous by their leftist existence and
    not worthy of freedom……………..John looks like he is perfecting his gargoyle
    look, I have more respect for the bugs on my windshield………….William

  • CHARLEY 60

    That was so they could bury him at sea and no one could be sure of the truth wasn't it?

  • kiarahaze

    Who is creating these disturbances there? Who is killing soldiers? Who is creating chaos over there?

    Look at the massacre they are carrying out in Tibby … you call that a revolution man … you call that an operation for the people?

    The only reason they carry out these disturbances is to get a license to go ahead bomb the government and take over their country. Is this what we are all going to support now? Is this what we are going to stand for now? That thousands of people be killed … millions of them be displaced … just so that a few people can get what they want. C’mon man!

    Read more:

  • kblink45

    Two words: Fidel Castro. Lefties support dictators because they are dictators at heart.

  • Tim Bus


  • S*yrian

    We Like our Police state of Syria just the way it was , thank you very muchh !!

    We are a mosaic of minorities living in " relative harmony " for quite some time now , and we much prefer the safty of the police state as opposed to the Dhimmitude and sharia law coming our way courtesy of O'bummer , The M. Brotherhood and the salafis who just can't wait to get their filthy hands on the back of the Kuffars necks to be chopped off ala Iraq and afghanistan .

    PS : a couple days ago , clients of mine mentioned how so called " rebels" on the outskirts of Aleppo threatened them they'd burn their crops and kill their families if they didn't show up for a planned demonstration against the gov'mnt .

  • Daniel

    Kerry, Pelosi, Obama all these left leaning "experts" do not understand that projecting weakness only invites aggression. They have no clue how to handle Middle East.

  • Halsey59

    Kerry served in Viet Nam…(SMIRK)