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Video: Sec. State John Kerry – “This international norm cannot be violated without consequences”


I strongly agree with Secretary of State Kerry and the Obama administration on this “moral obscenity,” as Kerry calls the Syrian use of chemical weapons against its own people. The bottom line in my book is simple: this is not about Syria, per se, but rather about a principle: that the international community can not allow governments to use chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, let alone against civilians. Those governments that do so must pay a serious price, or else it’s a total “green light” for future governments to do the same. Unacceptable. The only question now is how to respond, exactly, not whether the international community needs to respond.

One more point: I’m well aware that both the Assad regime and much of the opposition – including Al Qaeda elements, Sunni extremists, etc. – is really bad news. To put it mildly, neither side is progressive, by any standard, in any way. And I’m also well aware that we do NOT want to – and should not – get into another ground war, or even an extended air campaign in the Middle East. But we (the U.S. and its allies – France, the UK, etc.) certainly have the capability to put some serious hurt on the war criminal Assad regime using cruise missiles, etc. I say “war criminal,” by the way, not just for the use of chemical weapons, but for its vast gulag of torture chambers, as well as for its responsibility in the death of more than 100,000 Syrians, the wounding of many more, and the destruction of much of their own country. The human race should be well beyond this kind of thing in the year 2013, but sadly we’re not…

  • DJRippert

    And if the Iranians manage to sink a US warship with modified Sunburn anti-ship cruise missiles?

    What do you do then?

    This isn’t Afghanistan.  Throwing a few dozen cruise missiles into Syria could have some real unintended consequences.

    I hope John Kerry and Chuck Hagel know what the heck they are doing.

  • richmonder

    And what about the polls that show 9 of 10 Americans don’t approve of intervening in Syria? Should the government ignore public opinion? As Eliot Cohen wrote in today’s WaPo, there are no easy choices here and non-intervention, at least in the form of unilateral inaction, is a very respectable option given the geo-politics and our recent history.  

  • WASHINGTON, D.C. –  U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, released the following statement in response to Secretary of State John Kerry’s comments today on the use of chemical weapons in Syria:

    “The use of chemical weapons and indiscriminate killing of Syrian citizens by the Assad regime is despicable.  Secretary Kerry’s efforts to work with our allies and partners on an appropriate response is important. I was pleased to hear Secretary Kerry say that the Administration is consulting with Congress as response options – including potential military options – are being considered. Absent an imminent threat to United States national security, the U.S. should not be engaged in military action without Congressional approval.  And while it’s important that we continue to work closely with our allies to help Syria achieve a negotiated, inclusive political solution, those who employ such weapons and indiscriminate violence must be held accountable.”

    In July, Senator Kaine announced efforts to reform the War Powers Resolution in a way that lays out a clear consultative process between Congress and the President on whether and when to engage in military action.

  • Dan Sullivan

    This is a test of American resolve no matter what one thinks about military action. We (our President) set this in motion when we “drew” a red line. It wasn’t an unreasonable line and it was already embedded in treaties and policy that predates any of this mess.

    There are dire consequences no matter the decision. If we strike, we risk retaliation by the Iranians and condemnation from the Russians (who will keep this from being a UN sanctioned action unless they have milked the relationship dry). If we fail to act, the Iranians will be emboldened, the Gulf States will reconsider the value of our partnership and, along with the remainder of the world, view us as a paper tiger.

    If we strike, the Iranians will have a measure of our resolve that will deter direct Iranian aggression. They will also likely lose a client in Syria. If we fail to act, the Iranian government may form a partnership with the Russians that tips the balance of influence throughout the Arab world, and not in a good way.

    The game has already changed. It is just not clear at this moment how sloppy the playing field is.

    On balance, we must act and act in the only way the Assad regime will recognize, if only to make our word mean something. Yes, pretty ugly. But in doing so, we’d best eliminate their chemical capability (even if only the will to use it) and what remains of Syrian air power. Otherwise, we will shoulder responsibility for the 10s of thousands of innocents who will suffer the Assad regime’s retribution.

    In a revenge attack and without chemicals, Assad’s father killed 20,000 and leveled portions of the city of Hama.