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‘The days of leading from behind are over:’ Rep. Comstock returns from the Middle East

Rep. Barbara Comstock (R) visiting a school at Azraq refugee camp in Jordan. Courtesy Photo
Congresswoman Barbara Comstock returned last Thursday from a congressional delegation trip to the Middle East, where she visited Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan during a busy, tumultuous week in the region.

“It was certainly an eventful week,” Comstock (R), who represents all of Loudoun County, said in an interview with the Times-Mirror Friday. “It really brought home a lot of the big issues.”

On the day Comstock left for the trip, the U.S. struck a strategic target in Syria, an air base used to transport weapons. Three days later Comstock was in Egypt as two bombs in separate cities erupted in Christian churches, killing nearly 50. Then as the congresswoman was returning home, American forces dropped the MOAB – the U.S.'s largest non-nuclear bomb – on an Islamic State base in Afghanistan.

“Certainly the bombing of the Coptic churches highlighted the difficulties of Christian minorities in these countries, and how we need to be a force for good and making sure everything is done on that front,” she said.

On the strikes and U.S. foreign policy more generally, Comstock said the days of America “leading from behind” are over. She said she agreed with the strikes in Syria and the MOAB bomb in Afghanistan, and she believes the president has the authority to launch those strikes without congressional approval – something lawmakers on both sides have contested.

“I think they were within bounds,” Comstock said. “We certainly can have those discussions, but I do believe in having a commander-in-chief and having him be able to work with our military to make those strategic decisions … I do believe in a strong executive and a strong commander-in-chief.”

The congresswoman said, in speaking with military professionals, civilian Americans and foreign residents, “there's a sense that the U.S. is going to be more engaged.”

“The days of leading from behind are over,” she repeated. “ … I've always felt this. A world where the United States isn't the strongest country and military force is a dangerous world. Nowhere is that more the case than in the Middle East, and that is how these countries feel. They want a strong U.S. engaged in the region and working with them and also understanding the difficulties and the challenges they face.”

The congresswoman visited refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, where she said she saw both the dire conditions of Syria's displaced population and the hope and optimism in the eyes of suffering families and children.

“You see the multiple, sheer challenges that they have to deal with … and you realize the importance of the U.S. role and having to continue to help them,” she said, adding she was proud “of the remarkable work” both the U.S. and United Nations is doing to provide relief for the millions displaced during the Syrian Civil War.

The U.S. has pledged nearly $6 billion in humanitarian aid to those affected by the Syrian Civil War since it began in 2011, according to the State Department.

“The strength of these people. These were very strong, resilient people,” the congresswoman said. “It was really remarkable how they were coping. The community was taking care of each other – obviously with our help … everyone has lost a family member or friend.”

Comstock said “there is nothing we are doing out there that we need to do less of.”

“The footprint of ISIS is shrinking in that region,” she said. “ … It's going to be, in our lifetime, an ongoing effort – that we have to isolate and shrink [the spread of terrorism] and not just manage it.”

The congresswoman said terrorist groups like the Islamic State and al-Qaida are “in for the long haul – that's how they think.” She said the strength of the U.S. is its role in bringing together coalitions and showing resolve to refugees and other citizens in the Middle East -- showing them they “aren't going to be left alone to these monsters.”

“The world community is going to engage,” she said.

The bipartisan delegation included Comstock, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Congressman Juan Vargas (D-Calif.) and Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.).

While she was away, Comstock's opponents continued their calls for the congresswoman to hold an in-person, traditional town hall. The "Dump Comstock" group last Monday unveiled a highway billboard calling for the lawmaker to hold a town hall.

Comstock said she believes the approach she has taken – holding tele-town halls and meeting with small groups at her office – is a more effective means of communicating, especially on the issue of health care.

“Me and my staff meet with hundreds of people every week to talk about these issues,” Comstock said. “We reach a lot more in a tele-town hall … I'm ever present in the district. We've gone to businesses, we've gone to schools, we've gone to hospitals and medical facilities, and I have back-and-forth and dialogue.”

Comments


It is Wednesday. Do you know where your carrier battle group (armada) is?


Comstock voted with the hard right House Freedom Caucus an amazing 211 times out of 214 votes she cast so far this year.  She is no moderate.


@Loudoun4Trump do or can you read?  The first mission he ordered, a Navy Seal died, try at least googling the number of troops who have died since his inauguration.  Please at least try to know what you are saying before you type.  It does our men and women in the military a disservice when you so callously discard their sacrifice; it does your cause no good; and makes you look like a stereotypical Trump voter.


Not a huge Comstock fan, but “leading from behind” will go down as one of the dumbest things ever uttered by a President.


lawman - I think you need a reality check…Trump ordered a bombing in Syria in response to the use of chemical weapons…no US troops killed, he hit Pakistan with the MOAB, no US troops killed - trump is fixing the failure of Obama policy and has said he would not put troops on the ground in these areas…obviously events change and anything can change, but for now I haven’t seen a US troop killed from trumps strikes, something many Democrats agree with…trump is certainly being a leader of our country and protecting our interests, Obama did nothing to secure our freedom and lost many troops in an ill conceived battle plan that telegraphed his every military move—Thank you President Trump!!!


She needs to trek over to Arlington National Cemetery, walk around Section 60 and read the names and birth dates on the Headstones there and see what leading from the front looks like.  These politicians and their personal ego’s, along with much of the general public, especially most of those in Loudoun County know nothing of the real cost of war.  Tell Comstock and Trump to put their kids at the lead and see how apt they will be to use military force to coat and sooth their ego’s.


I wish the Loudoun Times-Mirror would institute a policy for its reporters of NO Single-Sourced Stories. One might as well just publish the press release. It’s lazy. It is not the quality of journalism that we know this paper aspires to. Give readers context, perspective, and don’t just accept the spin that is provided. This is important more than ever on the part of publications that follow the best principles of journalism.


When it comes to leading from way back there, Comstock knows what she’s talking about.

Wish we had a Congress person who was standing up to Trump in support of the many constituents who work for the Federal government or earn a paycheck supplying brains, or material or services to the Feds.


LCTer writes, “It is also disingenuous to be talking about the Syrian refugees in glowing terms after you have banned them from our country because they are dangerous!”

The Syrian people have said no more than one occasion that they prefer to stay in their own country.  Not everyone wants to relocate to the United States!  So truly caring about the Syrian people means doing whatever you can (including bombing Assad’s warehouses where he stores his chemical weapons) and setting up safe zones for the Syrian people in or near their homeland.

Comstock also talked about the persecution of Coptic Christians ... are you urging her to bring all of them to the U.S.?


Bottom line Barbara Comstock should have never been given the privilege to represent us in an elected office. No surprise she is not a leader, lacks common sense, out of touch with constituents and is nothing more than a self centered political hack! It becomes more clear the people she supposedly represents have lost all confidence she can perform her job, even marginally. We get another chance. 2018 can’t come any quicker!


Barbara Comstock is OK with Trump bombing wherever, whenever and whoever he wants without approval or notification to Congress. A leader who indiscriminately bombs countries over dessert between rounds of golf, while giving Russia notice, is not a strong leader. It is also disingenuous to be talking about the Syrian refugees in glowing terms after you have banned them from our country because they are dangerous! Comstock is only present for photo ops and donor meetings.  The tele-town halls are an insult!


How embarrassing for us to send this woman anymore, much less the Middle East. She is clueless and does not have a professional persona. She says stupid things and sounds like a frog. I know this is not her fault, but my God…she is annoying and should not be sent on any overseas trips representing the US Congress. Does not make us look good.


This is laughable…Comstock thought Trump should withdraw from his candidacy and wouldn’t say if she would support him…now that Trump’s popularity is rising based on his actions (something team Comstock knows little about) she is on board….talk about leading from behind!  That is all Comstock does….

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