Mitch McConnell: Want My Syria Position? Wait Till Next Week

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/8567879140/sizes/m/in/photolist-e47BY9-dCrDwN-dCtLqK-dCzcvf-71C33c-7Gei5H-6ptYBN-8TTXLg-81Cx4n-cE7HVd-cE7J51-82ZqwX-82ZpbP-82Zrii-7TKNP1-6pFjZj-cE7KbA-cE7JZL-cE7L6f-cE7Ji3-cE7Kkm-cE7KWq-cE7Lew-e41YUR-e47zLY-e47BEd-e41YKt-e47APW-e47BPA-e47Ag3-e47Bvw-e47zrL-e47z3j-e41Ygk-e47AZQ-e47zd7-e41Wmc-e47zjG-e47A67-e47zAG-e47zX1-e47Ax5-77yJbL-6anwzb/">Photographer</a>/Flickr

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At an appearance Friday at the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spoke about the Syrian civil war and the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons on the Syrian people.

McConnell did not take a position on whether the US military should bomb Syria in response to the chemical weapons attacks. “This is a tough call. I think there are good arguments on both sides,” he said. The Kentucky senator told the audience he would announce his position on whether to bomb Syria next week.

McConnell did, however, delve a bit deeper into his views on the chemical weapons attack. “Use of chemical weapons against anybody, particularly against your own people, has been viewed for decades as simply unacceptable,” he said. That view is awfully close to President Obama’s position that the use of chemical weapons crosses a “red line” widely acknowledged by the international community.

In 2012, Obama said that “a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus.” Earlier this week, Obama hedged that by saying, “I didn’t set a red line; the world set a red line. The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use even when countries are engaged in war.”

What McConnell said at the Northern Kentucky Chamber is a boiled-down version of that statement. It remains a mystery whether McConnell will back strikes in Syria—and risk further inflaming his already hostile conservative base—or cast his lot with fellow Kentucky senator Rand Paul and oppose the strikes. We’ll have to wait until next week to find out.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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