Friday, 6 September 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry on ALL IN

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The above is Secretary of State John Kerry’s distilled explanation of why the United States needs to intervene in Syria.

Below is a clip of Chris Hayes’s exclusive interview with Secretary Kerry, on last night’s episode of All In:

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This was a very good segment, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen, heard or read Kerry arguing so passionately for anything. It makes me wish he could have been like that in 2004. Here is some of the main meat of the interview:

“… let me make this clear: the President, and this is very important, because I think a lot of Americans, a lot of your listeners, a lot of people in the country, are sitting there and saying, oh my gosh, this is going to be Iraq, this is going to be Afghanistan, here we go again. I know this. I’ve heard it. And the answer is, no, profoundly, no. You know, Senator Chuck Hagel, when he was senator… [and I] opposed the president’s decision to go into Iraq [in 2003], but we know full well how that evidence was used to persuade all of us that authority ought to be given… We are informed sufficiently that we are absolutely committed to not putting any evidence in front of the American people that isn’t properly vetted, properly chased to ground, and verified, and we are both convinced that what we are putting before the American people is in the security interests of our country and it will not lead to some further engagement. There will be no American boots on the ground. This is not Iraq. This is not Afghanistan. This is not even Libya. This is a very limited, targeted effort…” [emphasis mine]

[As an aside – Hayes issues a clarification at the end of the first Kerry segment about the New York Times video, and that it was recorded almost a year before it was originally stated. This was bad journalism – this should have been expressed when Hayes first showed the clip, and not offering it as new evidence to back up contemporary policy suggestions.]

In the second Kerry segment (below), Hayes asks the Secretary about the former Bush administration officials who are attacking Kerry as “feckless”, and Chris gets him to state (often) that this is not Iraq:

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I still find it very hard to accept certain explanations. Hayes, for example, mentions to Kerry that many see the administration’s proposal as a potential “door opening to further intervention”. Kerry responded,

“We have made it crystal clear… this action has nothing to do with engaging directly in Syria’s civil war on one side or the other, it has to do with enforcing a norm of international behavior that has protected people against chemical weapons… this measure that we’re asking the Congress to authorize will have a profound impact on the judgment of the North Koreans and the Iranians and others as to whether or not the United States will stand up for the policies it adopts; and whether or not the United States when it says something, means what it says.”

This seems, to me, strangely worded. The United States is intervening in Syria to send a message to North Korea and Iran? It doesn’t seem like enough. Also, how can anyone in the Obama administration state that they will have “nothing to do with engaging directly in Syria’s civil war”…? How are they not getting involved? By attacking Assad’s government’s war-making abilities, they are by definition intervening on behalf of the opposition. Will they also bomb/strike against rebel emplacements and resources if they cross a ‘red line’? As the retired General Lawrence Wilkerson tells Chris, there is a “high” probability that the United States will have to go “all the way”.

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