Former Secretary of State John Kerry has said that the United States paid a price for not enforcing former President Barack Obama's red line in Syria. "We paid a price for the way it played out without the red line being enforced by the bombing," Kerry said on CBS's "Face the Nation."
Former Secretary of State John Kerry said he was unable to persuade then-President Barack Obama that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "needed to be taught a lesson" for violating ceasefires and using chemical weapons on his own people during Kerry's time in office, saying that the US ultimately "paid a price" for inaction. He was promoting for his new book 'Every Day Is Extra,' in which Kerry focuses on his time in the US political arena and his work as secretary of state.
In 2012, during the early days of the present Syrian civil war, Obama drew the now infamous "red line" when he stated the United States would intervene if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his own people. In the autumn of 2013, the Obama administration was working with Syrian and Russian leaders to ensure Assad's stockpile of chemical weapons would be turned over and destroyed.
A deal was reached, and the Obama administration and fellow Democrats applauded the achievement. The agreement was struck a year after Obama drew the "red line" but the regime has since been accused multiple times by the United Nations and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) of using chemical weapons.
"We paid a price for the way it played out without the red line being enforced by the bombing," said Kerry, explaining his thinking at the time. "I put several ideas on the table. The president was not persuaded by my argument. I believed that we had several options we could have done at very low risk to be able to make it clear to Assad that when we had a ceasefire and when he said he was going to live by it, he had to live by it. And I thought we should have done that," Kerry said.
“I thought we were going to go forward. I thought that weekend was the weekend. I expected the phone call to be telling me that he had decided we were striking that night or whatever was going to happen, and it wasn't."
Despite not enforcing the red line, Kerry said the Obama administration completed its objective by removing chemical weapons from Syria. "But we got the chemical weapons out, which was the objective," Kerry said.
Surprisingly, Kerry, who has publicly lambasted President Trump's foreign policy, said he has supported president Trump’s military strikes against Assad for his regime's continued use of chemical weapons against civilians, but said military action, must be met with diplomatic outreach. "I supported the use of force, but I don't support just a one-off where you drop a few bombs and there's no follow-up diplomacy and no additional effort to try to use the leverage you get out of doing that," Kerry said. "I thought that the president should have done that. President Trump should have done that."
On the other side, President Trump slammed John Kerry, labelling the former secretary of state the “father” of the terminated Iran nuclear deal. Trump also invited Kerry to challenge him in 2020 saying, 'I should only be so lucky'.
“I see that John Kerry, the father of the now terminated Iran deal, is thinking of running for President,” Trump tweeted. “I should only be so lucky - although the field that is currently assembling looks really good - FOR ME!”
Trump’s tweet came amid speculation that Kerry, the Democratic nominee who ran unsuccessfully against President George W. Bush in 2004, is considering another run in two years.
Kerry, 74, has refused to rule out another run for the White House in 2020, but has urged Democrats to focus on the midterm races. "Talking about 2020 right now is a total distraction and waste of time," Kerry said. "What we need to do is focus on 2018. We need to win back the confidence of the country to move in a better direction, and to do it in sensible ways," he said.