Former Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday said the U.S. “paid a price” for President Obama’s failure to enforce his “red line” in Syria.
During an interview on “Face The Nation,” host Margaret Brennan began by asking Kerry about a section in his new book, “Everyday Is Extra,” in which he recalls Obama’s handling of Syrian chemical weapons.
“I’m characterizing your re-telling where you went out and you made this prosecutorial, very careful argument about the chemical weapons attacks,” Brennan said.
“What I write about is, we paid a price for the way it played out without the red line being enforced by the bombing,” Kerry replied.
Brennan then reminded Kerry that sarin gas attacks have continued under the Trump administration.
“Absolutely correct. And I supported President Trump’s response to those partially. I supported the use of force, but I don’t support just a one-off where you drop a few bombs and there’s no follow-up diplomacy and no additional effort to try to use the leverage you get out of doing that. I thought that the president should have done that, President Trump should have done that,” Kerry said before conceding that President Obama should have taken similar action.
“You were sent around the world to rally support for other countries to stand with the United States to say that this red line on use of chemical weapons needed to be enforced. How difficult was that for you given that the president blinked? He decided not to go through with those military strikes,” Brennan asked.
“I thought we were going to go forward. I thought that weekend was the weekend. I expected the phone call to be telling me that he had decided we were striking that night or whatever was going to happen, and it wasn’t,” Kerry said.
Brennan then claimed that the failure to enforce the red line in Syria was a defining moment of the Obama administration and a sign of potential weakness.
“I don’t think it’s fair in terms of the president quote ‘being weak’ because the president took a lot of very tough positions and did a lot of things that evidence strength and that showed a president who had a very clear moral compass as well as very clear, a very clear set of values and principles by which he knew he could protect our country,” Kerry concluded.