In leaked audio, Kerry says he 'lost the argument' for use of force in Syria
Secretary of State John Kerry told a group of Syrian civilians at the United Nations that he had been pressing President Obama to use force against President Assad's military in Syria but was overruled by others in the administration.
The audio of his remarks was leaked to the press yesterday.
Kerry blamed Congress for America's failure to uphold President Obama's "red line" in Syria when President Assad continued to use WMD. Of course, Obama never asked Congress to support his plan. Russian President Putin stepped in and saved the president an international humiliation by asking President Assad to voluntarily give up his chemical weapons stockpile.
Kerry had some choice words for the Russians.
"The problem is the Russians don't care about international law and we do. And we don't have a basis, our lawyers tell us, unless we have a Security Council resolution," Kerry said during the meeting. He added, "They were invited in, we were not."
He added that the only reason Americans can do airstrikes is because U.S. forces are targeting the Islamic State.
"The only reason they are letting us fly is because we are going after ISIL," Kerry said. "If we were going after Assad, we would have to take out all the air defenses and we don't have a legal justification for doing that."
Kerry also blamed the American public for not supporting greater intervention in Syria. There's no appetite for American soldiers going into the country, he said.
"A lot of Americans don't believe that we should be fighting and sending young Americans over to die in another country," he said.
It would not have been easy taking out the Syrian air defenses, but it could have been done. But note that Kerry and Obama thought they needed permission from the UN before the strike. The only reason to go to war is if US interests are threatened and that decision is made - should be made - in the White House and not the UN building in New York.
Kerry is frustrated that his diplomacy has been a train wreck. With the Russians on the verge of a spectacular victory in Aleppo, the fingers pointing in the US will be right at the secretary of state and his naive, counterproductive policies.