John Kerry Refused To Rule Out Boots On The Ground In Syria, And Then Said He Was 'Thinking Out Loud'

John Kerry Chuck HagelAPJohn Kerry and Chuck Hagel

In a rather perplexing contrast with the
Obama administration’s message on military intervention in Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry refused to rule out the possibility of putting “boots on the ground” in Syria in response to a theoretical escalation of the conflict.

“I don’t want to take off the table an option that might or might not be on the table,” Kerry said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Tuesday.

Kerry’s answer came in response to a question from Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee. After hearing Kerry’s response, Menendez said that Congress may have to “work on language that makes it clear” the mission of military intervention in Syria in an authorization of military force.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the ranking Republican member on the committee, challenged Kerry on the premise later, at which point Kerry tried to walk back his earlier statement.

“Let’s shut that door,” Kerry said, saying he was “thinking out loud” about a “hypothetical” situation.

Part of the Obama administration’s justification for its military intervention has been that it will have a limited and narrow scope, and that there was no chance of any troop deployment that would lead to a long occupation similar to the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan.

“So the key point that I want to emphasise to the American people: The military plan that has been developed by the joint chiefs and that I believe is appropriate is proportional,” President Barack Obama said Tuesday before a meeting with members of Congress.

“It is limited. It does not involve boots on the ground. This is not Iraq and this is not Afghanistan.”

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.