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Marco Rubio on Syria

8:39 AM, May 11, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Jen Rubin at the Washington Post talks to Senator Marco Rubio about Syria:

On Syria [Rubio] was plainly dismayed by the administration’s response to the regime’s killing of hundreds of demonstrators. “I don’t think the U.S. has a Syria policy,” he begins matter-of-factly. He says in the White House and the State Department, “There is some level of cynicism, unfortunate cynicism about the ability of people in the region to bring about positive change.” Despite Syria’s horrid human rights record and its role as a “satellite of Iran,” Rubio says, “There is a nonsensical fear that what comes after [Assad] will be worse.”

Syria, he says, is part of the larger Arab Spring, which he says “is an extraordinary opportunity.” He is nevertheless realistic about how things will turn out. “It won’t all be the way we’d like it,” he says of the revolutions, and he recognizes “ultimately it is up to the people to establish for themselves their own destiny.” Still, he urges, “We should clearly show we are on the side of the Syrian people, the Libyan people, the Egyptian people, all people” who are working for freer societies. He cautions that the opinion of people in the region “is being largely crafted” by what we do now. He says U.S. inaction or support for tottering regimes plays into the propaganda of America’s enemies. “ ‘See, the U.S. only cares about you if it is in its strategic interest,’ ” he tells me will be the propaganda line of anti-American groups and countries. The notion that we don’t have interests in the welfare of other peoples, he argues, “goes against everything we believe as a nation.” He says that there is “still time” for the administration to be forceful about Syria. That begins when we “finally admit that Assad is not a reformer, but a murderer like his father.” He says we must say, “It is time for him to go.”

Later today, Rubio will hold a press conference with Senator Joe Lieberman "to discuss a bipartisan Senate resolution concerning the deteriorating human rights situation in Syria," according to a press release from the Florida senator's office. 

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