What a difference a year makes. U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford was confirmed by the Senate on Monday evening after serving under a recess appointment because the Senate would not confirm him the first time around.
It didn't take much to win the Senate's approval. All Ford had to do was get attacked by pro-regime thugs while attending a meeting of Syrian lawyers, attend a funeral of a Syrian activist right before it was attacked by Syrian government forces, and get his car pelted with eggs, tomatoes, concrete blocks, and iron bars as he was chased by a violent mob after visiting a Syrian politician.
In short, the Senate finally saw that Ford was more of an irritant to the Syrian regime than a concession to them, and so the GOP foreign policy brain trust reversed itself and supported his confirmation.
After Ford's latest run in with violent pro-regime Syrians, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used the incident to make a push for his confirmation.
"Ambassador Ford has shown admirable courage putting himself on the line to bear witness to the situation on the ground in Syria. He is a vital advocate for the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people now under siege by the Asad regime," Clinton said Sept. 29. "I encourage the United States Senate to show our support for Ambassador Ford by confirming him as soon as possible, so he can continue, fully confirmed, his critical and courageous work."
White House spokesman Jay Carney piled on the same day.
"Day after day, Ambassador Ford puts himself at great personal risk to support the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people," he said at the Sept. 29 briefing. "And I'd like to make this point: that we urge the Senate to show Ambassador Ford its support by confirming him and allowing his courageous work to continue."
Ford described the latest attack in his most recent Facebook post.
"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," he wrote.
"Americans understand that we are seeing the ugly side of the Syrian regime which uses brutal force, repression and intimidation to stay in power."
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.