In case you haven’t been following the news, things are going to hell in Syria. As is the trend in the Middle East right now, protestors have risen up against the government, calling for reforms and re-instatement of civil rights, and the government has responded by arresting and killing the protestors. President Obama took steps in May of 2011 to effect sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in an effort “to end its use of violence against its people and begin transitioning to a democratic system that protects the rights of the Syrian people.” This act effectively freezes any assets President Assad and those named in the Executive Order have in the jurisdiction of the United States. Similar steps were taken by the European Union and Canada, but have had no effect on President Assad’s campaign.
At the end of 2011, estimates showed that over 5,000 citizens had been killed since the revolution began in January. President Assad claimed that the uprisings were driven by foreign powers and that his “victory was near.”
In early February 2012, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton took the issue to the United Nations in an effort to enact global sanctions through the Security Council. The resolution was vetoed by the countries of China and Russia, and the immediate response by one of our leaders here at home was disgusting.
Congressman John Fleming, a Tea Party Representative from Louisiana took the veto as a victory against an attempt by President Obama and Secretary Clinton to “decide Syria’s destiny.” Never mind the fact that people are dying for something they believe in, and are being killed by an oppressive government, by all that is holy and American, the Conservatives won.
It occurs to me that Congressman Fleming doesn’t really have an understanding of American history or the Constitution he claims to serve. Lest we forget that 237 years ago, a group of rebellious citizens stood up against an oppressive British government for their right to governance with representation. This started an eight year war we call the American Revolutionary War which eventually resulted in the founding of this very country. In eight years, approximately 103,000 people were killed or wounded on both sides in the quest for reforms and civil rights.
The Constitution was written to ensure those rights remained in place, and over the following 230 years, those rights have been expanded from the Bill of Rights to include 17 further amendments to an ever-evolving document.
Not the same issue? I disagree, but I also digress. The real issue is this case is one of hyper-partisan politics. It’s almost as if there’s a script out there for this kind of childish tit-for-tat slap-fighting.
President Obama’s intervening on the global stage? He’s meddling in things!
President Obama’s not intervening on the global stage? The godless man is letting innocent women and children die!
President Obama wants to bring the troops home? He’s supporting terrorism!
President Obama deploys troops? He’s a warmonger!
President Obama announces plans to people to work? Socialist usurper!
President Obama announces a spike in unemployment? Where’s the jobs?!
Enough! This government has had absolutely no problem providing aid and assistance, for better or worse, to governments and people fighting against oppression for their rights. It is an American mission, whether we admit it or not, to not only promote but defend the concept of democracy around the world. It started with Manifest Destiny in the 19th century, and it continues today. It got us into the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War. It also was partially used as justification to invade Iraq and Afghanistan after the September 11th attacks.
This isn’t an issue of Democrat and Republican or Liberal and Conservative fighting for their slice of the First World pie. This is reality. There are people dying at the hand of an oppressive government because they want basic human rights, and the United Nations, for all of its failings, is the body to enact sanctions to sway that government to stop. China and Russia have enabled President Assad to continue his tyranny, and Congressman Fleming is celebrating 5,000 deaths in one year because it blocked the will of his enemy. This is also the same congressman who opposed a tax hike because he could barely survive on $400,000 a year. He also rallied his supporters because he believed The Onion’s satirical attack on Planned Parethood and posted it as news.
This kind of attitude goes against the spirit of the country and our Constitution. It also goes against very ideals and morals this congressman claims to hold as a leader in his Christian faith.
Honestly, Congressman Fleming, whose side are you on?
United States Department of Treasury: Administration Takes Additional Steps to Hold the Government of Syria Accountable for Violent Repression Against the Syrian People
BBC World News: Russia and China veto resolution on Syria at UN
ThinkProgress: Multi-Millionaire Rep. Says He Can’t Afford A Tax Hike Because He Only Has $400K A Year After Feeding Family
ThinkProgress: Congressman Posts Satirical Attack On Planned Parenthood From The Onion As News
Wikipedia: 2011–2012 Syrian uprising
Wikipedia: Congressman John Fleming
Wikipedia: American Revolution
Wikipedia: American Revolutionary War
Wikipedia: Manifest Destiny
Facebook: Congressman John Fleming
United States House of Representatives: About Congressman John Fleming