Kerry’s assertion coincided with the beginning of a forceful administration appeal for congressional support, now that Obama has declared he will await approval from the House and Senate before ordering any cruise missile strikes or other action.
On Capitol Hill, senior administration officials briefed lawmakers in private to explain why the U.S. is compelled to act against President Bashar Assad’s government. Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough also made calls to individual lawmakers. Further classified meetings were planned over the next three days.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona, a leading Senate hawk and the candidate Obama defeated for the presidency in 2008, said he’d discuss Syria with Obama today.
Obama must convince skeptical Americans and their representatives in Congress of the need for more U.S. military action in the Muslim world after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He also is trying to assemble an international coalition, but finding it hard to land partners. They fear becoming involved in a conflict that has claimed more than 100,000 lives in the past 21/2 years and dragged in terrorist groups on both sides of the battlefield.
Only France is firmly on board among the major military powers. Britain’s Parliament rejected the use of force in a vote last week.
The United Nations yesterday asked the head of its chemical weapons inspection team to expedite the analysis of tests from samples it collected from Syria last week.
Assad’s government, which has denied allegations of chemical weapons use, reveled in Obama’s decision to defer any immediate action. Deputy Foreign Minister Faysal Mikdad claimed that the move reflected the lack of evidence of government culpability.
With Navy ships on standby in the eastern Mediterranean sea ready to launch missiles, Congress began a series of meetings that will take place over the next several days in preparation for a vote once lawmakers return from summer break Sept. 9.