Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday denied that President Obama abruptly retreated on taking military action again Syria over its use of deadly chemical weapons against its citizens.
Kerry made the rounds on the Sunday talk shows, debating the moderators about a contrast between Obama’s sudden decision to delay a military strike and Kerry’s own impassioned argument in favor of such a move one day earlier.
“I made a powerful call for action, I never mentioned the word quick,” Kerry said on “Fox News Sunday,” when asked to explain the difference between his speech and the president’s decision.
Kerry said Obama had made no decision about whether to strike Syria when Kerry addressed the public on Friday, saying a U.S. response “matters because we choose to live in a world where a thug and a murderer like Bashar al-Assad can gas thousands of his own people with impunity even after the United States and our allies said no.”
On “Meet the Press,” Obama’s shifting stance on Syria was highlighted in videos of Kerry forcefully calling for action and Obama’s Saturday decision to halt action pending congressional approval.
“Do you feel undermined?” moderator David Gregory asked him.
Kerry didn’t answer that question directly, but said “there was no decision not to” take action in Syria, but that the president simply decided it would be better to get the nod from Congress first.
“He didn’t think it was worthwhile acting and having the Syrians and a whole bunch of other folks looking at the United States, arguing about whether or not it was legitimate or should he have done it or should he have moved faster,” Kerry said.
When Gregory asked Kerry if the appearance of a sudden change makes the United States appear indecisive and weak, Kerry responded:
“I hope and pray it will be seen as careful deliberation, as appropriate exercise of American constitutional process.”