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John Kerry Makes The Case For Attacking Syria: 'History Has Warned Us Against Inaction'

  • World
  • 08.30.13 03:10 PM EDT

The Secretary of State spoke Friday about the continuing build-up to a military strike against Syria. In his remarks, John Kerry emphasized the "high confidence" that the US has that Syria used chemical weapons -- saying that at least 1,426 people were killed by the most recent attack -- and the moral necessity for action. 

That most recent attack was the catalyst for new demands for intervention in the 2-year long Syrian Civil War that has killed an estimated 100,000 people so far. 

Kerry's remarks stopped short of saying that US would definitely take military action against Syria, but were framed as a sales pitch, making the case to the American people for intervention. He put Syria's attacks into historical terms, comparing stopping Assad to the international community banning chemical weapons after World War I. Kerry also conjured the specter of a future world where, because the US failed to act in this instance, other Middle Eastern countries felt emboldened to use chemical weapons with impunity. 

Kerry said, "We believe in the United Nations," but also pointed out that Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the UN, has said that the UN's current investigation at the site of the suspected weaspons attack will not affirm who used the weapons, only whether such weapons were used. "By the definition of their mandate, the UN cannot tell us anything we don't know." Kerry also pointed to the obstructionism guaranteed by the Russians, that would keep any UN Security Council resolution from passing. 

In closing, John Kerry reiterated a point that the president made earlier this week, that whatever military action is taken, it will not resemble Iraq or Afghanistan -- and that whatever fatigue the American people have around those wars does not change the contours of the debate around Syria.