Kerry Statement `Incoherent' on Syria: Falkenrath

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Aug. 30 (Bloomberg) -- Bloomberg Contributing Editor Richard Falkenrath reacts to the speech by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry as he attempted to make the case for a U.S. military strike against Syria for the use of chemical weapons. He speaks on Bloomberg Television's "Bloomberg West."

That's not what this is about.

Our concern with the cause of the defenseless people of syria is about choices that will directly affect our role in the world and our interests in the world.

It is also profoundly about who we are.

We are the united states of america.

We are the country that has tried , not always successfully, but always tried to honor a set of universal values around which we have organized our lives and our aspirations.

This crime against conscience , this crime against humanity, this crime against the most fundamental runcible's of international community, against the norm of the international community emma this matters to us.

And it matters to who we are and it matters to leadership and to our credibility in the world.

My friends, it matters here if nothing is done.

It matters if the world speaks out in condemnation and then nothing happens.

America should feel confident and gratified that we are not alone in our condemnation and we are not alone in our will to do something about it and to act.

The world is speaking out and many friends stand ready to respond.

The arab league pledged " to hold the syrian regime fully responsible for this crime." the organization for islamic cooperation condemned the regime and said " we needed to hold the syrian government legally and morally accountable to this heinous crime." turki said " there is no doubt the regime is responsible." the french said " the regime committed this vile action and it is an outrage to use weapons that the community has been for the last 90 years in all international conventions." the australian prime minister said he did not want history to record that we were " a party to turning such a blind eye." now that we know what we know, the question we must all be asking is what will we do.

Let me emphasize -- president obama, we in the united states, we believe in the united nations.

We have great respect for the brave inspectors who endured regime gunfire and obstructions to their investigation.

As ban ki- moon, the secretary- general, has said again and again, the un investigation will not affirm who used these chemical weapons.

That is not the mandate of the un investigation.

They will only affirm whether such weapons were used.

By the definition of their own mandate, the un cannot tell us anything that we have not shared with you this afternoon or that we don't already know.

Because of the guaranteed russian obstructionism of any action for the un security council, the un cannot galvanize the world to act as it should.

Let me be clear -- we will continue talking to the congress , talking to our allies, and, most importantly, talking to the american people.

President obama will ensure that the united states of america makes our own decisions on our own timelines based on our values and our interests.

We know that after a decade of conflict, the american people are tired of war.

Believe me, i am, too.

But fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility.

Just longing for peace does not necessarily ring at about.

And history would judge us all extraordinarily harshly if we turned a blind eye to a dictator's wanton use of weapons of mass destruction against all warnings, against all common understanding of decency.

These things we do know.

We also know that we have a president who does what he says he will do.

He has said very rarely that whatever decision he makes in syria, it will there no resemblance to afghanistan, iraq or even libya.

It will not involve any boots on the ground.

It will not be open ended and it will not assume responsibility for civil war that is already well underway.

The president has been clear -- any action that he might decide to take will be limited and tailored in a response to -- to ensure that a despots beautiful and desperately and fragrant use of chemical weapons is held responsible and ultimately come up we are committed -- we remain committed and we believe it is the primary objective to have a diplomatic process that can resolve this through negotiation.

Because we know there is no ultimate military solution.

It has to be political.

It has to happen at the negotiating table.

We are at the plea committed to getting their.

That is what we know.

That is what the leaders of congress now now.

That is what the american people need to know.

And that is, at the core, of the decisions that must now be made to the security of our country and for the promise of a planet where the world's most heinous weapons must never again be used against the world's most vulnerable people.

Thank you, very much.

That was the secretary of state, john kerry making the live remarks in washington.

He pretty clearly made the case for a military response to the atrocities in syria.

He framed the discussion as a matter of what we know.

He talked about facts and evidence and unprecedented declassification.

And then he repeatedly asked the question -- what are we in the world going to do about it?

The answer is not clear.

Let's get some additional highlights from our teeth washington correspondent peter cook.

It seemed for a while as though the secretary of state was almost walking is up to an announcement of a military strike and then he walked us back.

Yes, he did provide more details from declassified reports.

The white house has released that report now of four pages which i have.

When he says the united states government has a high level of confidence that the syrians carried out this attack, let me read what that means.

" our high confidence assessment is the strongest position that the u.s. intelligence community can take short of confirmation." this is the test and intelligence to date from the u.s. intelligence community provided to the president and members of congress and now provided to the public short of a few more classified details.

We don't know what those may be.

One other thing that is striking from the comments is how the ghost of iraq stood in the room there with them tummy tuck.

You had mental images of: powell, his predecessor, at the un, making the case for action in iraq.

John kerry talked about that directly and this is something that will continue to haunt this administration.

Also, what struck me is the fact that if i am david cameron in the un, uk, i wish john kerry had delivered these comments yesterday before the british parliament voted on the use of force in syria because you could make the case that perhaps it could have swayed the votes there and the president would not be in the position today of having to find support overseas had john kerry made his comments earlier?

Let's turn to richard flakenrath, he has been inside the white house at moments like these.

He is deeply involved for years with the new york city police department and understands the minds of terrorists having conducted counterterrorism operations.

Richard, we are talking about the kinds of actions undertaken in syria would speak directly to the kind of experience and knowledge you have.

Secretary of state john kerry is making the case for a military strike but then says whatever we do, it will be on our timetable.

We will continue talking to congress and continued talking to the american people, offering the justification.

How does one determine whether this was a successful speech or not?

Well, no one will ever accuse the secretary of state of not being able to give a speech.

I think it is clear that this is an unsuccessful speech in this instant.

He was loquacious but he said very little that he had not said already and he did not address the core issues.

The core issue is not whether assad had used the chemical weapon.

The core issue is what is the purpose of u.s. military strikes against the assad regime and with what partners do we carry that out and under what legal justification?

I respectfully disagree with my friend peter that this would have helped david cameron with his parliamentary debate.

In fact, there is very little that secretary of state carry --kerry said today that he did not say on monday.

He gave the world his assurances that assad had done this and it was a heinous act area today he repeated those assurances.

He had very little additional information.

I think the administration is not sure what to do on the friday before labor day.

By the weekend, they will have to find a spokesman , maybe secretary john kerry again, who will answer the real questions we have in this strategic situation.

Is it possible, would it have been possible for the secretary of state to explain exactly what would be accomplished with a military strike?

He said ultimately this is the -- he said the solution is at the negotiating table.

The americans are tired of war and he tried to frame it in terms of national security and set the security of our country which seems to be a slight departure perhaps from what he was saying earlier in the week when he was trying to build an international coalition.

A slight departure is too kind.

I have listened to a lot of foreign-policy speeches in my life and this was incoherent.

It did not lay out clearly what he was trying to say other than assad is a brutal dictator that used chemical weapons about his own people.

He was not clear about military action and a diplomatic solution.

He was not clear about the issue with the russians or the allies or the arabs or the rebel groups we are supporting on the ground in israel.

This was not a coherent statement of strategy for the syrian problem.

Does that suggest that the administration does not know what to do right now?

It certainly suggests they were not ready to have secretary john kerry explained today.

I think there is significant questions that the rest of the country has of what our strategy is for this problem.

Secretary john kerry did not answer them today.

Behind the scenes, they might have other things but they will need to lay it out to someone.

He did not do it today.

There may be others disappointed with what secretary of state had to say.

Hang tight for a moment and i want to bring in alix steel who is watching the market reaction.

We saw the s&p 500 drift lower during the remarks and as he began to back away from the bellicose remarks, things turned around.

It did and citigroup did a

This text has been automatically generated. It may not be 100% accurate.


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