Of all of the one-on-ones in Secretary of State John Kerry’s tour of the Sunday morning shows, Fox News’ Chris Wallace grilled him the hardest on the
Obama administration’s abrupt shift in strategy on Syria.
Wallace asked Kerry if, by delaying any military action, the administration was essentially handing Iran and Syria a win.
He pressed Kerry on the message the administration sent to Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah after President Barack Obama’s speech on Saturday, in which he declared that the U.S. should take military action — but that he was willing to wait nine days for Congress to come back to authorise it. And afterward, Wallace pointed out, Obama played golf.
Wallace also referenced Kerry’s strong statement on Friday, in which he called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad a “murderer” and a “thug.”
“If the situation is so dire, if Bashar al-Assad is such a ‘thug,’ why is President Obama waiting until nine days from now? … Why not call [Congress] in to session tomorrow and begin this debate?” Wallace asked.
After Kerry made news and told Wallace of the new evidence obtained by the U.S. of Syria’s use of sarin gas, Wallace pressed him again. He played a clip from his speech Friday, one in which Kerry said that failure to act would embolden Iran, Hezbollah, North Korea, and future dictators seeking to obtain chemical weapons.
“Mr. Secretary, what message are we sending to Iran, and Hezbollah, and North Korea, when the President announces he thinks we should take military action, but is going to wait nine days for Congress to come back before he takes action?” Wallace said.
“And then he goes off and plays a round of golf. What message does that send to the rebels on the ground whose lives are in danger, and to our enemies who are watching?”
Kerry said that Iran and North Korea should “take note” that the U.S. has “confidence in its democratic process” to go through Congress. He also said that by waiting, the U.S. does not “lose anything” militarily — something Obama said on Saturday.
“The rebels lose something, sir. They lose the possibility that they’re going to get killed sometime soon,” Wallace interjected.
Kerry told Wallace he was “amazed” by Wallace’s apparent suggestion that the administration should have proceeded without Congress.
Finally, Wallace asked Kerry to respond to the Syrian state media’s declaration of victory on Saturday after Obama’s speech, saying he had “flinched” and that it was a “historic American retreat.”
“That is in the hands of the Congress of the United States. The president has made his decision,” Kerry said. “The president wants to stand up and make certain that we uphold the international norm, that we do not grant impunity to a ruthless dictator to gas his own people.”
You can watch the full clip of Kerry’s appearance on Fox News here.
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