Kerry on Syria: 'I Don't Consider That Going to War in the Classic Sense'

Sec. of State asks Gen. Dempsey if he wants to comment, Dempsey declines

September 3, 2013

Secretary of State John Kerry rebutted Sen. Rand Paul's (R., Ky.) assertion that a prospective U.S. strike in Syria would constitute going to war "in the classic sense" Tuesday in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.

At the conclusion of his point the Secretary of State asked Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey if he wanted to add anything.

In a bit of a lighthearted moment Dempsey replied "No, not really Secretary, thank you for offering."

JOHN KERRY: Do we want to go to war in Syria? Of course not, everybody, 100 percent of Americans will say no. We say no. We don't want to go to war in Syria either. It's not what we're here to ask. The president is not asking you to go to war or he's not asking you to declare war. He's not asking you to send one American troop to war. He's simply saying that we need to take an action that can degrade the capacity of a man who's been willing to kill his own people by breaking a nearly 100-year-old prohibition. And will we stand up and be counted to say we won't do that? I just don't consider that going to war in the classic sense of coming to Congress and asking for a declaration of war and training troops and sending people abroad, and putting young Americans in harm's way. That's not what the president is asking for here. General, do you want to speak at all to that?

MARTIN DEMPSEY: No, not really, Secretary. Thank you for offering.

JOHN KERRY: You got to pull the rug out from under me.