While the U.S. government continues to struggle in their effort to directly link Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to an alleged chemical weapons attack, Secretary of State John Kerry attempted to make the case for a military strike alongside his French counterpart.
Kerry’s provocative rhetoric echoed that of President Barack Obama who recently claimed that the credibility of the United States and the international community is on the line over the response to the alleged attack in Syria.
The latest statements came as Kerry, who dined with Assad in 2009, traveled to Europe for a three-day visit aimed at garnering international support for a retaliatory strike on Syria.
Despite Kerry comparing Assad to Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein, the European Union said that any military strike should not occur until the United Nations weapons inspectors have delivered their findings.
“This is our Munich moment. This is our chance to join together and pursue accountability over appeasement,” Kerry said on Saturday, according to The Guardian.
Kerry was referring to the 1938 Munich Agreement made between the leading powers in Europe and Nazi Germany, as he did earlier in the week.
“This is not the time to be silent spectators to slaughter … this is not the time to allow a dictator unfettered use of some of the most heinous weapons on earth,” Kerry said.
He said that the French government agrees with the White House’s stand, though The New York Times notes that the French public, like their American counterpart, remains skeptical.
Kerry claims that the international support for a strike on Syria is actually quite significant.
“There are a number of countries, in the double digits, who are prepared to take military action,” he said.
While the EU foreign ministers said that a strike should wait on UN findings, they did say that intelligence “seems to indicate strong evidence that the Syrian regime is responsible for the attack.”
They also called for a “clear and strong response,” according to the BBC.
Speaking of the UN inspectors, Kerry said that Obama “has made no decision.”
“I will return to Washington and obviously this will be a point of discussion but we take that decision under advisement,” Kerry said.
In other words, they still reserve the right to move forward regardless of UN findings, just as they do despite any Congressional decisions.
Kerry insisted that intervention in Syria is critical to maintaining American security, according to The Guardian, though it’s not really clear how that is the case.
Despite all of the claims made by Kerry, France and EU ministers, no direct link between the alleged chemical weapons attack on August 21 in the Ghouta area east of the Syrian capital Damascus.
It goes without saying that a link between Assad – or even anyone in his inner circle – has not been shown publicly.
However, Reuters reported on Saturday that U.S. sources said that “intelligence experts are not sure whether the Syrian leader knew of the attack before it was launched or was only informed about it afterward.”
Furthermore, Reuters notes that U.S. officials “have not been able to fully describe a chain of command for the August 21 attack,” something which they note is “one of the biggest gaps in U.S. understanding of the incident.”
Congress is slated to vote on a strike on Syria at some point this coming week after they reconvene on Monday.
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