WASHINGTON — If Congress does not vote to authorize American intervention in Syria, as President Barack Obama has requested, the president could yet take action, Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday.
Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry said that lacking approval from Congress, “the president, as you know, retains the authority, always had the authority, had the authority to strike before coming to Congress, and that doesn’t change.”
Responding to a question from Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake what would happen if Congress did not approve intervention, Kerry said he was not sure what Obama would actually do, saying he had not told him.
But, he said, it would send a bad signal to the rest of the world.
“In Pyongyang, in Tehran, in Damascus, folks will stand up and celebrate. And in a lot of other capitals in parts of the world people will scratch their heads and sign a sort of a condolence for the loss of America’s willingness to stand up and make itself felt where it makes a difference to the world,” Kerry said. “I think it would be an enormous setback to America’s capacity and to our vision in the world, and certainly to the role of leadership that we play.”