Ambassador Ford is a Profile in Courage

The Senate made the right call by voting to confirm Robert Ford as U.S. ambassador to Damascus. I could understand the initial skepticism of many Republicans, which led President Obama to send Ford to Syria with a recess appointment: They did not want to confer legitimacy on the Assad regime. But that’s not what Ford has been doing. Instead, he has emerged as a brave and principled champion of the anti-Assad protests at considerable risk to himself. This is from one of his latest Facebook posts, describing what happened during one of his recent meetings with a Syrian opposition leader:

[T]he September 29 incident in front of Hassan Abdul Azim’s office was not peaceful. Look at the photos of the U.S. embassy vehicles – eggs and tomatoes do not do such damage. Protesters threw concrete blocks at the windows and hit the cars with iron bars. One person jumped on the hood of the car, tried to kick in the windshield and then jumped on the roof. Another person held the roof railing and tried to break the car’s side window. When the embassy car moved through the crowd, the man fell off the car.

When I talked to Ford recently he told me, ultra-modestly, he assumed any diplomat in his position would do what he’s doing. Not likely. Ford has been a profile in courage, and now he can continue to rally the Syrian opposition as long as Assad doesn’t toss him out of the country–or do him real physical harm.