Congressman Dennis Kucinich has issued a statement in response to his quotes in the Syrian Arab News Agency, and says he was misquoted.
On any number of occasions, congressmen, diplomats, and politicians who have visited dictators have made ingratiating statements in the privacy of palace parlors that they believed would never be repeated. Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie, for example, was much too deferential to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the run-up to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. While ambassador to Egypt, Frank Ricciardone gave new meaning to sycophancy. Former Representative Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) visited Libya and was videotaped praising Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi several years ago.
The issue, however, is not whether Kucinich was misquoted or is simply embarrassed to have his quotes repeated. Whenever an official visits a murderous dictator, he or she can count on the fact the dictator is going to use his presence to imply an endorsement and to take the wind out of the opposition’s sails. Sometimes engagement can do far more harm than good. Visiting al-Assad as the Western-educated eye doctor mows down Syrians on the street demonstrates horrible judgment and a poor reflection of the self-described peace movement.