Hinting at a military response, Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday accused Syria of using chemical weapons against its people and destroying the evidence, and said President Barack Obama believes “there must be accountability.”
Kerry, using forceful language in a brief statement to reporters, said images that have emerged from Syria in the past week — entire families killed without shedding a drop of blood, bodies contorting in spasms — “shock the conscience of the world.”
He said the evidence was “undeniable” that the Syrian regime had used chemical agents. And he said the president feels there must be accountability for those who use “the world’s most heinous weapons.”
Kerry spoke in pained personal terms, as a father, of watching and rewatching video of the aftermath of chemical attacks.
“Nothing today is more serious, and nothing is receiving more serious scrutiny,” he said.
via World News.
The New York Times reported the Speech this way:
Mr. Kerry’s remarks, in a prepared statement he read at the State Department, reinforced the administration’s toughening stance on the Syria conflict, which is now well into its third year, and he suggested the White House was moving closer to a military response in consultation with America’s allies.
“The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity,” Mr. Kerry said.
“By any standard, it is inexcusable,” he said. “And despite the excuses and equivocations that some have manufactured, it is undeniable.”
Mr. Kerry also said the Syrian government’s refusal to allow immediate access to the attack sites last Wednesday was a telling indicator that it was attempting to hide responsibility. Even though a United Nations team was finally permitted by the Syrian government to investigate starting Monday, he said, the government’s authorization was “to late” to be credible.
The Anti-War activist turned Secretary of State Kerry sounds like he is beating the War drums. The Washington Post Agrees:
Kerry’s Syria presser: That was a war speech
It’s difficult to find a single sentence in Secretary of State John Kerry’s forceful and at points emotional press conference on Syria that did not sound like a direct case for imminent U.S. military action against Syria. It was, from the first paragraph to the 15th, a war speech.
That doesn’t mean that full-on war is coming; the Obama administration appears poised for a limited campaign of off-shore strikes, probably cruise missiles and possible air strikes. President Obama has long signaled that he has no interest in a full, open-ended or ground-based intervention and there’s no reason to believe his calculus has changed. But Kerry’s language and tone were unmistakable. He was making the case for, and signaling that the United States planned to pursue, military action against another country. As my colleagues Karen DeYoung and Anne Gearan wrote, “Kerry left little doubt that the decision for the United States is not whether to take military action, but when.”
Kerry made the moral case for attacking Syria. He described what’s happening in Syria as “the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons,” which he called “a moral obscenity” and “inexcusable.”
Kerry made the international norms case for striking Syria. “All peoples and all nations who believe in the cause of our common humanity must stand up to assure that there is accountability for the use of chemical weapons so that it never happens again,” he said. The argument here is that punishing Assad’s use of chemical weapons matters “beyond the conflict in Syria itself,” because the world wants to deter future military actors from using chemical weapons.