On June 22nd, I attended an event at a local Islamic school featuring former U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford and US Congressman Gary Peters (thankfully no relation). The event was awkwardly promoted as a "Town Hall Meeting," to discuss "The Syrian Revolution."
The event was choreographed to advance the US agenda for regime change in Syria and the audience appropriately reflected this bias. There was no attempt to present the various positions within or outside of Syria. Mr. Ford's and Congressman Peters' speeches were preceded by a five minute propaganda video complete with footage from CNN's fraudulent u2018Syrian Danny.'
It was clear that Mr. Ford sees himself as a modern day Lawrence — an Anglo scholar whose role is to unite and lead those opposed to the Assad regime. It was also apparent that Ford harbors a personal animis for President Bashar Assad. After all, it was Assad who sent Ford packing in disgrace from Syria for his departure from ambassadorial norms in actively encouraging violent revolution within Syria. Ford declared that "We will not stop until Bashar Assad is gone!" Neither Ford nor Peters specified who "we" is. Ford spent the evening ingratiating himself with the audience of conservative Sunni Muslims, at one point announcing that he did not care how Assad left, including being found dead in a sewer pipe like Qaddafi. U.S. diplomatic speak in 2012?
Ford faced no serious challenges from the audience. It was a mutual admiration society. The toughest question Ford faced was whether the US should send lethal weapons to Islamic rebels or just attack Syria itself. While bemoaning the killing in Syria, Ford proudly admitted that the US is acquiescing in the supply of weapons to rebels through Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other beacons of democracy.
I pointed out to Ford and Peters that there was no constitutional authority for their personal campaign of regime change in another country. I asked them why Bashar Assad could not make the same argument for the Obama Administration in light of Obama's low approval rating, the pathetic economic condition the nation was in and the degradation of rights and liberties. I asked Ford and Peters how the Obama administration would react if other countries were funneling weapons into the US to be used by revolutionary groups to set off car bombs in the nation's capital or assassinate public officials. In response to their argument that Assad is killing his own people, I pointed out that Lincoln was responsible for the deaths of 600,000 Americans, yet we have built a memorial to him in our nation's capital, placed him on our currency and dedicated a national holiday to the man.
My question prompted an angry uproar from the partisan crowd complete with shout downs and threats. The moderator implored the angry gathering to demonstrate democratic principles by allowing me to be heard "even if his questions are stupid." I awaited Ford's response as the stirring crowd settled. Predictably, Ford ignored the issue of constitutional authority and justified administration actions based upon "international law." I did not have a chance to follow up due to the ire of the crowd and the moderator's open bias. I would have asked Ford why, if international law is preeminent, the US has exempted itself from multiple international conventions, including the international criminal court. I would also have asked what part of international law allows the administration to target foreign leaders and engage in the assassination of US citizens abroad. Nevertheless, the point was made. This administration sees the constitution as a subordinate document to international protocols. Neither the constitution nor the American people will determine our Syrian policy. Ford cannot be bothered with such trivialities. He has a world to change along with Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice.
The evening ended with myself and others being warned to leave for our own safety and we did. This was the face of the nascent Syrian u2018democracy' which the Obama administration is willing to promote whether or not the policy is supported by the American or Syrian people. The evening was pure theatre. The only question was whether it was comedy or tragedy.
John M. Peters [send him mail] is a practicing attorney in Michigan.