Dennis Kucinich has stirred up controversy in recent days for meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during an unofficial visit to the country, culminating today in a Washington Post editorial criticizing the anti-war Ohio Democrat for taking "the side of Syria's murderous dictator" and endorsing the regime's "propaganda strategy" of promising reform to end Syria's three-month uprising.
Now Kucinich is fighting back. In a just-issued press release, the congressman calls out the media, and the Post in particular, for not giving diplomacy a chance. "Through demonizing prose and a 'with us or against us' mindset," Kucinich writes, "the Washington Post Editorial Board rejoins the march of folly that has in the past decade fueled a misguided approach to conflict resolution and democracy building that has left America with thousands of dead young soldiers, over a million dead civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and the surrounding region, trillions of dollars of debt, and a new generation of terrorists." The media's analysis of the Syrian uprising, Kucinich suggests, is too black-and white:
This situation does NOT simply involve two players: the government and the opposition.It is an extremely complicated and explosive condition involving, among other elements, a historically closed government with an awful human rights record caught up in demands for democracy sweeping the region, security forces which went out of control killing innocent protestors, sectarian interests which have longed to overthrow a government which has protected religious minorities, violence against minorities, guns flowing across the borders with refugees on the move.
Kucinich adds that he appealed to Assad to remove his forces from Syrian cities, and "today we learned that he has begun to do just that (the military has withdrawn from Hama, among other places). Reiterating comments made earlier in the week, the congressman says Assad appears ready to implement real reforms and many Syrians want him to be the one to carry them out. "I talked to many Syrians who said the overthrow of Assad without knowing who would take his place will add to the instability and make things immeasurably worse and they want him to deliver on the reforms," Kucinich explains.
Update: We now have additional insight into Kucinich's thinking on the Syrian uprising. The Daily Caller has obtained video footage of an interview Kucinich gave on Syrian television earlier this week, which it claims shows the congressman "being deferential to and even laudatory of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad." In the edited clip, Kucinich explains that one of his takeaways from meeting with Assad "is that he does care about what’s happening, that he wants to respond, that he's thinking about the different ways that would be the best way to address the needs of the people."