News & Politics

Kerry: 'I Lost the Argument' for Using Force in Syria

Kerry: 'I Lost the Argument' for Using Force in Syria
U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, gestures during his speech at the Security Conference in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

An audio recording of Secretary of State John Kerry’s meeting with Syrian civilians on the sidelines of  the UN General Assembly meeting last week reveals Kerry’s frustration with the administration’s efforts in Syria.


Secretary of State John Kerry’s frustration with the failure of American diplomacy was on display as he defended US efforts to help end the five-year civil war in Syria during a meeting last week with a group of Syrian civilians, according to an audio recording obtained by CNN.

But Kerry also expressed sympathy for the Syrians’ demands that the United States intervene more forcefully amid Syrian and Russian airstrikes against civilians, telling the group that he “lost the argument” for using military force against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Kerry’s comments came at a meeting that took place at the Dutch Mission to the United Nations on the sidelines the UN General Assembly, where Kerry was going from session to session in a frenzied effort to resuscitate a ceasefire that seemed poised to collapse.

“I think you’re looking at three people, four people in the administration. I lost the argument. I’ve argued for the use of force. I’m the guy who stood up and announced that we’re going to attack Assad for the use of weapons,” Kerry is heard telling the Syrian attendees, referring to internal deliberations within the administration of President Barack Obama that followed Assad’s use of chemical weapons in 2013.

Kerry also faulted Congress for failing to support such a retaliatory strike, saying, “The bottom line is that Congress refused even to vote to allow that.”

“We have a Congress that will not authorize our use of force,” he added, explaining that a new military intervention would be difficult to bring about.


American intervention was never going to happen, and Kerry should have realized that. Not only does Congress oppose Syrian intervention, but the American people are dead set against it as well. Now that Russia is on the verge of a huge victory, intervention is even less likely.

Kerry said some startling things to the Syrians, not the least of which was a shocking admission that the Clinton/Powers theory of “responsibility to protect” has no legal basis. This would make the Libyan incursion illegal:

The Syrian civilians repeatedly questioned Kerry about violations of the ceasefire and America’s unwillingness to enforce the agreement more strongly, and lobbied for a bigger US role.

Kerry cited legal restrictions and local air defenses as reasons why a US military intervention was not feasible.

“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,” he said.

“They were invited in, we were not,” he added, referring to Moscow’s military operations in Syria.

“We don’t behave like Russians. It’s just a different standard,” Kerry said.

“The only reason they are letting us fly is because we are going after ISIL,” Kerry said, using another term for ISIS. “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 added, “So far, American legal theory does not buy into the so-called right to protect.”

“Nobody (is) more frustrated than me,” Kerry told the gathering.

Acknowledging that Russia’s military actions have “changed the equation” and made removing Assad more difficult, Kerry suggested that Syrian refugees could one day help eject Assad if given the right to vote.

“Given the right to vote”? Assad has fought a 5-year civil war and killed hundreds of thousands of his own people to prevent Syrians from having the right to vote. What makes Kerry think that any political solution would give the Syrian people the electoral franchise?

The only way to remove Assad is to physically kick him out. And to do that, an armed force is going to have to go through Russia to do it.

Pathetically naive, confused, and walking around the world with blinders on. This audio tape is revealing a John Kerry clueless about the realities in Syria.