National Security

Carney Does Not Think Kerry Misspoke When He Called Potential Attack on Syria ‘Unbelievably Small’

White House Press Sec. says Kerry was comparing operation to Iraq and Afghanistan

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney defended Secretary of State John Kerry's remarks in which he characterized a potential U.S. attack on Syria as "unbelievably small" Monday in the White House press conference.

Carney said Kerry's use of the "unbelievably small" measurement was actually in comparison to America's military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan:

MARA LIASSON: Today, John McCain has been one of your real allies on this, and joined the kind of chorus of your lobbying effort on this. Specifically, he took exception to Secretary Kerry's remarks that the strike would be "unbelievably small," he said that was "unbelievably helpful." Could you explain what he meant by saying it would be "unbelievably small?"

JAY CARNEY: Certainly. I think that Secretary Kerry clearly was referring to that in the context of what the United States and American people have experienced over this past 10 to 12 years, which includes large-scale, long-term, and as it seemed at least prior to President Obama coming into office, open ended military engagements with boots on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq. That is the contrast that Secretary Kerry was making. I don't think that the phrasing reflects some error. It is a fact that by comparison. It is certainly much more limited and of smaller duration and size.

MARA LIASSON: But he wasn't talking about the result with the "unbelievably small," he was talking about the operation itself.

JAY CARNEY: Correct. We said very clearly that if implemented that the action would in important ways degrade Assad's capabilities and deter him from further use of chemical weapons.