Secretary of State John Kerry struggled to defend President Obama’s plan for Syria when he appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace.
On Saturday, Obama said he would seek Congressional approval for military strikes on Syria. Wallace asked Kerry why Obama decided not to call back Congress to debate on Syria. Lawmakers will not reconvene until September 9 from their August recess. Kerry could not provide a simple answer and instead repeated talking points when Wallace pressured him for an answer:
So, this case is going to build stronger and stronger, and the president believes that the United States of America for a decision like this is stronger when you have the time to be able to have the support of the United States Congress and obviously the support of the American people through them.
To make matters worse, Obama’s speech completely contradicted Kerry’s Friday speech where he said action should be taken now against Syria. Wallace told Kerry it appears that Obama’s plan of action was the direction from the beginning and nothing like the points Kerry made on Friday. Kerry responded by reminding that the President can throw out the advice of his advisers entirely:
And as you know, Chris, and I think, you know, I’ve certainly learned as a new member of the cabinet, no decision is made until the president of the United States makes the decision. You know, staff can advise; people can weigh in, but everybody knows that ultimately no decision is made until the president makes it. The president made this decision. I believe it’s the right decision. I think we are stronger. The president believes very, very much that America will show the best face of our democracy and a great strength, and we will show a unity of purpose in the conviction of the Congress and the president that we need to do this.
Kerry insisted America’s credibility is on the line and he hopes Congress will vote with Obama.
America’s credibility is on the line here, and I expect the Congress of the United States to do what is right and to stand up and be counted, and I think that the Assad regime needs to recognize that they have refocused the energy of the American people on him, on his regime, on his lack of legitimacy to govern, and on the ways we will support the opposition in order to see that the people of Syria can choose their future in an appropriate way.
Kerry stated that tests from hair and blood samples prove sarin gas was used against civilians in the August 21 attack. The chemical weapons attack killed 1,400 people, including almost 500 children.