Kerry Wants ‘Trigger’ to Deter Syria Chemical Attacks

Posted September 4, 2013 at 2:02pm

Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday that the administration wants a “trigger” that would authorize military action for 60 days each time President Bashar al-Assad’s regime uses chemical weapons.

“We would prefer that you would have some kind of trigger,” Kerry told the panel, in response to a question about resolution language from Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif.

Including a trigger would give the president the ability to respond swiftly to another use of chemical weapons without having to come back to Congress, and potentially be more of a deterrent to Assad. But it also could significantly lengthen the duration of an intervention.

Earlier in the hearing, Kerry told the panel that ”the world is wondering whether the United States of America is going to consent through silence, to stand aside while this kind of brutality is allowed to happen without consequence.”

As in the Senate, any resolution is going to stipulate that there be “no boots on the ground.”

Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., a proponent of intervention in Syria, said “the authorization measure we take up must clarify that any strike should be of a limited nature and that there should absolutely be no American boots on the ground in Syria.”

Kerry said, “We all agree there will be no American boots on the ground. The president has made crystal clear, we have no intention of assuming responsibility for Assad’s civil war.”