Many people claim to champion the pursuit of justice and the defense of human rights around the globe. If there is an opportunity for them to make promises, they will. But when a true need arises, when their voices and rallying could make a genuine difference, many of those promises prove false.
Recently, Syria's dictator, President Bashar Al Assad, attacked his own people with banned chemical weapons -- at least 50 times. The victims were mainly civilians. Innocent people -- men, women and children -- were suffocated by these attacks, but not before burning their eyes and drowning their lungs in fluid.
Finally, a world leader, US President Donald Trump, took a stance against this war criminal. Instead of supporting that action, however, many people have been attacking Trump for the clear message he sent Assad: He cannot use illegal weapons to target civilians and enjoy immunity.
Why would people take the side of a man who murders his own people? If we look at the history of the relationship between the Syrian regime and the public, it is clear that this is not the first time that many have leaned towards Assad.
Former US President Barack Obama set several "red lines" for the Syrian regime, but Assad freely crossed them without eliciting any response from either Obama. In international politics, when a world leader sets red lines and does not take action against those who cross them, he shows only weakness -- immensely damaging to his country's security on the global stage. A weak leadership empowers dictators and emboldens extremists. It indicates that there will be no consequences for illegal actions. It also gives Assad and his ally, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the green light to give chemical weapons to militias and terrorist groups that target the United States and its allies.
After Assad's military crossed the first "red line," the world apparently realized that the Obama Administration was not going to act on its promises.
In a move that further helped Assad, Obama saw to it that all economic sanctions against the Iranian regime were lifted. Before then, Iran's mullahs were on the verge of economic collapse; their hold on power was in danger, and they could not afford lavishing billions of dollars on Assad. Syria's regime was saved by the "nuclear deal," given cost-free to the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, Iran, and its proxy terrorist groups. Despite all those promises to defend the voiceless and the victims of such unspeakable crimes, the Obama administration provided the perpetrators of these crimes with the financial and political tools they needed to continue committing atrocities.
Many Americans' love affair with Assad continued with the decision of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's (D-Hawaii) to meet with the Bashar Assad. Gabbard was a strong supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) during the Democratic presidential primary. These Democrats, however, were unwilling to criticize her for the trip.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), an Iraq War veteran, however, said about the Gabbard visit:
"An elected official, a representative of the United States, went on a secret trip to meet with the brutal dictator who had murdered nearly half a million of his own people -- it's reprehensible and cannot be justified.... The actions of Congresswoman Gabbard have put our nation's reputation and foreign policy concerns at high risk and I couldn't be more disgusted."
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.), while she was Speaker of the House of Representatives, met with Assad as well, apparently without even questioning whether such a meeting might undermine America's national security.
These kinds of meetings and love affairs between the leftists and such a dictator only give legitimacy to Assad, the Islamic Republic of Iran and terrorist groups. Whoever appeases Assad and legitimizes his actions should be aware that they are complicit in crimes against humanity. While they hide behind their empty promises and shake hands with a mass murderer, they are responsible for countless children's torturous deaths.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh, is a business strategic and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US Foreign Policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu