Kerry's Case for War Tugs at the Heartstrings, but Where's the Policy?

Secretary of State John Kerry laid out the case for going to war against Bashar Assad. His voice shaking with anger and emotion, the former fierce critic of unilateralism laid it on pretty thick.


He even choked up when he talked about the children who had been killed:

And just as important, we know what the doctors and the nurses who treated them didn’t report — not a scratch, not a shrapnel wound, not a cut, not a gunshot sound. We saw rows of dead lined up in burial shrouds, the white linen unstained by a single drop of blood.

Instead of being tucked safely in their beds at home, we saw rows of children lying side by side, sprawled on a hospital floor, all of them dead from Assad’s gas and surrounded by parents and grandparents who had suffered the same fate.

The United States government now knows that at least 1,429 Syrians were killed in this attack, including at least 426 children. Even the first-responders, the doctors, nurses and medics who tried to save them, they became victims themselves. We saw them gasping for air, terrified that their own lives were in danger.

This is the indiscriminate, inconceivable horror of chemical weapons. This is what Assad did to his own people.

Very dramatic. But where’s the policy?

Fox News analyst Colonel Ralph Peters was incensed at Kerry’s performance. He said “melodrama is not a substitute for a strategy” and “the hypocrisy in Kerry’s remarks was absolutely stunning and revolting”:

Charles Krauthammer said on Hannity that this was a humiliation for the president and that there would be “no purpose” to a strike on Syria:

“It has no purpose whatsoever. Unless it is to assuage the guilty conscience of a president. Or vindicate the vanity of a president who’s become a laughingstock around the world and whose word means nothing because last year he spoke about a red line and has allowed all the red lines to be crossed without lifting a finger. Maybe he feels compelled as a way to vindicate himself, but you don’t take a country into war as a way to vindicate your own standing,” said Krauthammer.

Krauthammer said Obama would be a “hypocrite” if he strikes Syria without Congress’ formal approval after saying in 2007 that the president cannot “unilaterally authorize” an attack on another country if there is no “imminent” threat to Americans.


Peters and Krauthammer have it right. The cynicism being displayed by the president is astonishing — using the same arguments Bush used to get us into the Iraq War, arguments that both Kerry and Obama rejected as “lies.”

Kerry’s emotional outburst sums up the left’s calculus for going to war. Unless there’s an emotional element to the argument, it’s nothing more than selfish nationalism to take the country to war.

We’ll see how well that works out when the bombs start falling.



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