On August 2nd, Senator Bob Casey was the lone attendee at the well-known Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs’ confirmation hearing for U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, who had been appointed during Congressional recess. Because all other Senators on the committee audaciously decided to skip the meeting, a solitary Senator Casey encouraged his absent colleagues to “review the testimony,” adding that he is not “in a position to judge others on attendance.”
At the meeting, Senator Casey praised the work Ford has done as Ambassador, and noted the appalling atrocities committed by Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Casey then boldly and courageously insisted that Assad “must step down.” This was one of the first calls for regime change in Syria by a U.S. official.
More than two weeks later, President Obama finally followed Senator Casey’s example and called for regime change in Syria. In terms no stronger than those of Senator Casey’s from two weeks earlier, Obama stated that “[f]or the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”
Following President Obama’s statement, Casey’s office released a statement supporting the administration’s decision. Casey said the Syrian regime “has committed terrible violence against the Syrian people, whose only demands have been basic human rights and democratic representation.” At the end of his statement, Casey said he “strongly encourage[s] members of the international community to lend their voices to this growing chorus, and publicly declare their opposition to the Assad regime and its brutal treatment of the Syrian people.”
Hopefully, the international community will follow President Obama’s example of following Senator Casey’s example. So far, however, the only action taken by President Obama thus far has been an Executive Order freezing all Syrian assets in U.S. jurisdiction and prohibiting U.S. businesses from conducting business with Syria.
Senator Casey has spent much of his freshman term attempting to establish his bona fides in foreign affairs. His leadership on Syrian regime change solidifies his role as a growing voice on foreign policy. Foreign policy, however, does not poll well at home.