Former House Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) went on Fox News and blasted President Obama’s slow response to the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians and rebel groups. She channeled the “great” Ronald Reagan, saying that he would have been more forceful in his response.
ROS-LEHTINEN: It is against the norms of international standards and to let something like this go unanswered, I think will weaken our resolve. I — I know that President Reagan would have never let this happen. He would stand up to this. And President Obama — the only reason he is consulting with Congress, he wants to blame somebody for his lack of resolve. We have to think like President Reagan would do and he would say chemical use is unacceptable.
Two things. First off, history paints another picture. In the 1980s, President Reagan took Iraq off the list of known terrorist countries after Saddam Hussein led the invasion of Iran. In subsequent years, The Reagan Administration provided weapons (illegally), intelligence, and explicit support to the Iraqis, in spite of the death toll reaching more than 1 million on both sides. Among the weapons used by the Iraqi military were sarin and mustard gas, which the United States knew about but helped Hussein anyway by pointing out strategic enemy positions that would have given Iran the edge to win the war. And in documents dated March 3, 1988, the Reagan Administration officials claimed that “fears of Iraqi aggression seem exaggerated,” only to look the other way two weeks later when Hussein’s forces used poisonous gas against Kurdish civilians in Halabja, known as Bloody Friday.
Secondly, it is hypocritical of the congresswoman to claim that President Obama wants to “blame somebody for his lack of resolve.” In an interview with The Miami Herald, she had a different attitude of the president’s desire to seek congressional approval:
“He needs Congress now because he wants someone to be with him. He’s standing there alone. We are standing there alone. He has ignored Congress for all of these years, has built no relations really to speak of with anyone in Congress in a strong way. And now he turns to us to give him authorization.”
Not only that, but she also said that she is “leaning toward approving targeted limited airstrikes,” which would, in her own words, say: “You can continue to kill your people, but buddy, use bullets don’t use gas…we’re going to be there a few days, we’re going to bomb a few targets and we’re going back and you, rebels, you sort it out.”
Now, I am no fan of President Obama lately, but Ros-Lehtinen’s apparent support for the president’s plan to action against Syria gives her no license to turn around and say that he is only using Congress as a scapegoat. What is funny is that she will probably vote in favor of striking Syria anyway, since she already has a record for being in favor of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.