Kerry: Continuing Violence in Syria Has Nothing to Do With Obama's 'Red Line'

January 5, 2017

Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that the ongoing violence in Syria has nothing to do with President Obama's failed "red line" on the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons.

In August 2012, Obama said that the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country'c conflict would be a "red line" that would provoke a military response by the United States. The Obama administration admitted the following year that Assad used such weapons on his own people but chose not to use any military force in response.

Fox News reporter James Rosen told Kerry on Thursday that since the red line violation and subsequent failure to enforce it, many foreign leaders told him that the U.S. lost credibility and standing in the world.

Kerry denied Rosen's assertion and blamed the media for its reporting on what had happened.

"I don't think that the press at large, broadly, has actually properly analyzed, assessed, and reported on exactly what took place," Kerry said.

Kerry then said that Obama had wanted congressional approval for such military action but did not receive it. He did add that the perception of a failure to act did hurt the United States with the red line incident.

Rosen asked Kerry if the current status of the Syrian conflict is a better result than what would have happened had the United States acted with force.

"It has nothing to do with that," Kerry said. "What is happening today in Syria has nothing to do with the dropping or not dropping. It has everything to do with whether or not Assad was ready and willing to be held accountable by Russia and Iran to actually live by the agreements that they offered, and also whether or not the opposition was able to act in a way that could create enough leverage for Assad to have to come to the table and negotiate."

"The bottom line is, folks, the president never retracted his intent to–he just got rid of the need to do it by embracing a different approach that got all the weapons out," Kerry said.

The Syrian regime is continuing to use chemical weapons, primarily chlorine, on civilians.