Kerry: Iran Is Hoping U.S. 'Looks the Other Way' on Syria

Sec. of State on chemical weapons: U.S. needs to send message to enemies and allies, 'never means never'

September 3, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry laid out an emphatic case for United States intervention in Syria throughout his opening remarks Tuesday in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

Kerry emphasized inaction will send a powerful message to longstanding U.S. adversaries such as Iran and North Korea, possibly "inviting even more tests down the road" from the rogue nations.

A clear message on chemical weapons needs to be communicated that "when the United States of America and the world say, never again, we don't mean sometimes, we don't mean somewhere. Never means never," Kerry said:

JOHN KERRY: […] I will tell you there are some people hoping the United States Congress doesn't vote for this very limited request the president has put before you. Iran is hoping you look the other way. Our inaction would surely give them a permission slip for them to at least misinterpret our intention, if not to put it to the test, Hezbollah is hoping that isolationism will prevail. North Korea is hoping that ambivalence carries the day. They're all listening for our silence. And if we don't answer Assad today, we will erode a standard that has existed for those hundred years, in fact we will erode the standard that has protected our own troops in war. And we will invite even more dangerous tests down the road. Our allies and our partners are also counting on us in this situation. The people of Israel, of Jordan, of Turkey, each look next door and they see that they're one stiff breeze away from the potential of being hurt, of their civilians being killed as a consequence of choices Assad might take in the absence of action. They anxiously await our assurance that our word means something. They await the assurance that if the children lined up in unbloodied burial shrouds were their own children, we would keep the world's promise. That's what they're hoping. So the authorization that President Obama seeks is definitively in our national security interests. We need to send to Syria and the world to dictators and terrorists, allies and to civilians alike, the unmistakable message, that when the United States of America and the world say, "never again," we don't mean sometimes, we don't mean somewhere. Never means never. […]