Speaking this morning at a House committee hearing, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the world is wanting to know whether America “will rise to the occasion” by beginning military strikes on Syria. The Obama administration has continued pleading for war in Syria, even while the nation again faces a massive annual budget deficit, estimated at about $670 billion. The numerous costs of military strikes on the country – whether fiscal or societal – are rarely even discussed. Rather, during the hearing, Kerry directly criticized those who would support “armchair isolationism” instead of standing with the administration’s desires for launching a strike.
Kerry spoke of the “comprehensive evidence” that underlies a call for war in the region, saying that he knows for certain sarin gas was used in a chemical attack carried out by the Assad regime. “All of that was real,” Kerry said. “This would meet the standard by which we send people to jail for the rest of their lives,” the Secretary noted, comparing the role of the United States and its potential response to that of a policeman, albeit in an area which is actually outside of its sovereignty and legal jurisdiction.
In order to stress the idea that a swift response is needed, Kerry claimed that the United States will face “far greater risks” to its security if an attack on Syria is not carried out. He also asserted that airstrikes are necessary in order to maintain a sense of “credibility” for the Obama administration, which has been pleading over the last couple of weeks for starting a war against Syria.
Kerry emphatically stated that “there will be no boots on the ground,” which is merely another way of saying that the conflict will be carried out by way of drone and aerial warfare. Later on, however, he received some questions about that particular point. It was astutely observed by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) that the language of the authorization measure seems to leave room for the possibility of having committed ground troops sometime after the airstrikes, for non-combat or other purposes.
In response, Kerry acknowledged that if the airstrikes happened not to work as a deterrent against Assad, it would certainly create a need for something further to be done. He noted that there are many in the administration who support the attack, but have also expressed that they would be willing to take the conflict to its maximum level, at whatever cost, if necessary. Kerry also expressed concerns about having a 60-day maximum on the time for airstrikes that would be carried out. Instead, he said, it would be preferable for any congressional authorization to allow subsequent attacks on Syria in a timely manner if US officials deemed it necessary. The administration is also interested in “increasing lethal aid to the opposition,” Kerry stated, providing weaponry to the rebels who are fighting against the Assad regime in Syria.
Members of anti-war activist group Code Pink also attended the House committee hearing this morning, not causing vocal disruptions, but wearing shirts that read “US Out of Syria” and holding up hands that were colored with red dye. Alongside protesters like these, Senate and House switchboards have been inundated with calls over previous days from constituents who are thoroughly opposed to an attack on Syria. The Obama Administration is expected to continue pleading its case for war in Syria until a vote occurs regarding congressional authorization.
Written by Chris Bacavis
Source: House committee hearing on the use of military force in Syria, Sept. 9, 2013