John Kerry tells Senate committee: U.S. air strikes on Syria would not have been ‘devastating’
Threatened military strikes against Syria would not have affected the course of the country’s civil war, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told lawmakers on Tuesday.
Speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry said U.S. military action — ultimately abandoned by President Barack Obama at the 11th hour last year — would not have had a “devastating impact” on the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
Obama scrapped plans to launch strikes against Syria after Syria’s key ally Russia helped broker a deal to dismantle Damascus’s chemical weapons arsenal.
At the time, Kerry had argued for military strikes over a limited period against Syria.
Kerry told the Senate on Tuesday that such a military action would only had had a limited effect.
“It would not have a devastating impact by which he (Assad) had to recalculate, because it wasn’t going to last that long,” Kerry said.
“It took 30,000 sorties and 30 days in Bosnia to have an impact. Here we were going to have one or two days to degrade and send a message.”
Under the international agreement brokered instead of military strikes, 54 percent of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal had now been removed, Kerry said.
Kerry’s comments came after Obama last month defended the decision not to launch military strikes, stating that it would not have prevented the “hardship” seen in Syria.
Obama also said the United States had “limits” after struggling through more than a decade of military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“What the president said, it would not have had the effect of changing the calculation or the course of the war,” Kerry said.
“It would have had an effect on precisely what he was asking for it for, which was to send a message to to Assad about the use of chemical weapons.”
[Image via Agence France-Presse]