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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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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