Harry Reid Invokes Nazi Germany to Make Case for Syria

First vote scheduled for Wednesday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., speaks to reporters after the Senate stepped back from the brink of a political meltdown, clearing the way for confirmation of one of President Barack Obama's long-stalled nominations, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, July 16, 2013. 
National Journal
Shane Goldmacher
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Shane Goldmacher
Sept. 9, 2013, 10:47 a.m.

Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id, D-Nev., in­voked the killings in Nazi Ger­many in World War II on Monday as he opened de­bate on a meas­ure to au­thor­ize mil­it­ary strikes against Syr­ia.

“This bru­tal­ity de­mands a re­sponse,” Re­id said, an­noun­cing the first key pro­ced­ur­al vote will come on Wed­nes­day.

Re­id said the United States had to en­force in­ter­na­tion­al pro­hib­i­tions against the use of such weaponry that have been in place for a cen­tury, since World War I, be­cause of the grue­some nature of deadly chem­ic­als. He said he had re­cently watched a 13-minute video of the chem­ic­al at­tacks in Syr­ia, as vic­tims writhed in pain. “I will nev­er get that out of my mind,” he said.

While Re­id said he un­der­stood that oth­ers in the Sen­ate dis­agreed with in­ter­ven­ing mil­it­ar­ily, he had harsh words for stand­ing by. “Sit­ting on the side­lines won’t make us a bet­ter na­tion to­mor­row,” he said. Amer­ica, he said, had to re­mem­ber the les­sons of World War II and, spe­cific­ally, Aus­chwitz, the Nazi-run con­cen­tra­tion camp.

He read — twice — a quote he at­trib­uted to Dante: “The hot­test places in hell are re­served for those who in times of great mor­al crisis main­tain their neut­ral­ity.”

Typ­ic­ally, Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell, R-Ky., fol­lows Re­id’s speeches on the floor. But Mc­Con­nell has yet to take a po­s­i­tion on Syr­ia. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., spoke next and said the de­bate was only oc­cur­ring be­cause of Pres­id­ent Obama’s ill-ad­vised “red line” re­mark about chem­ic­al war­fare in Syr­ia.

“If the pres­id­ent had not drawn his red line, we would not be hav­ing this dis­cus­sion,” Coats said.

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