Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk lambasted Ohio Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich for his recent trip to Syria in an extensive interview with The Daily Caller in his Capitol Hill office last week.
“I think it undermines [American foreign policy],” Kirk said of Kucinich’s June trip, during which he praised Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad on state television. “I would just say that the record is replete with members of Congress that may go to the wrong dictatorship and say the wrong thing, and I would put what Congressman Kucinich in that distinctly unhelpful category.”
Assad’s regime has reportedly killed 1,300 demonstrators and injured many more since protests against the dictatorship began earlier this year.
“What I learned from my meeting with President Assad,” Kucinich said in a Syrian television interview, “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,” Video of Kucinich’s controversial remarks was first obtained by TheDC.
Kirk added: “I wish that Congressman Kucinich had reviewed what he potentially would do or say with Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton, who now has been very clear about what a bad dictator Assad is, and U.S. policy.”
Asked whether America should be more engaged in Syria than in Libya since many believe that more American interests are at stake in Syria, Kirk said the situation in Libya made it more conducive to an American military response.
“I think the Libyan people rose up, making it an easier job than what you see in Syria,” he said, conceding that “the world would be much better off without the Assad dictatorship.”
Kirk said America should speak out clearly against the Assad dictatorship, but not deploy military force.
“I think this is an area where the limitations of U.S power and the lack of any overarching, compelling U.S. national security vital interest mean that we should say Assad is a dictatorship, reach out and support dissident groups, make sure that Voice of America, Radio Liberty, and all other Internet means of undermining the Assad dictatorship are used,” he said, “but it should not involve the U.S. military or any boots on the ground.”
Check back to read and watch the rest of TheDC’s extensive interview with Sen. Kirk later this week.
WATCH: Kirk on Syria and Kucinich