Kerry: "High Confidence" Syria Used Chemical Weapons

Friday, August 30, 2013

In recent days, those watching as the White House prepares a response to developments in Syria have seen similarities when looking at the run up to the Iraq War 10 years ago. 

"The president believes it's important for us to consult with Congress and we've done that in a robust way," White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Thursday. 

But as the president continues to contemplate what action the U.S. will take, many analysts say the process looks all too much like what happened in 2003. 

Bill Keller, former executive editor of The New York Times reflects on the similarities between the decision to go into Iraq and the lessons the U.S. has learned—and those it clearly hasn't.

Update: Kerry Speaks on Syria

Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the world on Friday afternoon, saying that the United States had "high confidence" that the regime of Bashar al-Assad carried out a chemical attack last week outside of the Syrian capital of Damascus. Kerry said that the U.S. government now knows that at least 1,429 Syrians were killed in the attack, including at least 426 children.

This attack was not the first, Kerry said, adding that the regime likely used chemical weapons multiple times this year. The question, Kerry said, is what we in the world will do about it.

"This crime against conscience, this crime against humanity, this crime against the most fundamental principles of international community, against the norm of the international community, this matters to us," Kerry said. "And it matters to who we are. And it matters to leadership and to our credibility in the world. My friends, it matters here if nothing is done. It matters if the world speaks out in condemnation and then nothing happens. America should feel confident and gratified that we are not alone in our condemnation and we are not alone in our will to do something about it and to act."

Kerry said that the worsening conflict should be addressed through a diplomatic process of negotiation. 

"Because we know there is no ultimate military solution," said Kerry. "It has to be political. It has to happen at the negotiating table. And we are deeply committed to getting there."

Read the full transcript of Kerry's remarks here or watch the full press conference, courtesy of the Washington Post, below.




Bill Keller

Produced by:

Mythili Rao


T.J. Raphael

Comments [4]

Cynthia from Oregon City, OR

Why can't the international court try Assad, in abstinentia, give him a chance to defend himself, bring forth the evidence and if he's found guilty of crimes against humanity - lable him, as such and shame those nations who support him. This would do more to quell this violence than anymore deaths, due to bombing.

Aug. 30 2013 12:47 PM

WHAT. Every claim Keller makes as to why we have a national interest in Syria applies to Iraq. The big difference is that Bush made the case to the public for Iraq, got congressional approval and had a large international coalition. Senator Obama stated congressional approval was necessary for any military action. President Obama, or should I say King Obama does not feel he needs congressional approval to start a war.
President Obama's foreign policy is a disaster. Yet the liberal media who publicly gnashed their teeth for allegedly failing to question the Bush administration over their claims of WMD is not so much as uttering a peep about King Obama's failure to get congressional backing - never mind any allies.

Aug. 30 2013 10:57 AM

LMFAO. "Blame Bush," is what I heard Keller and Hockenberry say. Mostly Hockenberry, in fact. At least Bill Keller had the good sense to add that the bad choices now faced by the U.S. in Syria are the direct result of the last 12 to 18 months of decisions or indecisions by the Current Occupant.

The vote in the UK parliament yesterday was a triumph for the left-leaning press that has made a primary mission out of scolding the George W. Bush administration for Iraq. The New York Times, public radio, The Guardian; these sources seem to be the basis for American foreign policy in the Obama era. Where we talk about protecting innocents but do little about it, and downplay hard American interests and power-projection to serve those interests. In the end we find ourselves weaker, with fewer choices, and having done little to protect anyone or anything.

I am tempted to say that Obama's "reset button" on foreign policy has left America just as hated as ever in the Middle East, but that would be wrong. No; we are MORE hated, and far weaker than we have ever been.

Aug. 30 2013 10:00 AM
Salvatore Principato from manhattan

When Bill Keller speaks about the Syrian conclict he sounds like your basic generic short sighted war head. How come an internationally sponsored peace conference is hardly ever discuussed or is never exalted as much as noble and violent military intervention. Great let's throw more fuel on the fire and create more enemies

Aug. 30 2013 09:43 AM

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