Old and busted, John Kerry edition: Protecting America against terrorism requires us to pass a “global test” to prove that the threat really exists:
No president, though all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United States of America.
But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people understand fully why you’re doing what you’re doing and you can prove to the world that you did it for legitimate reasons.
New hotness, John Kerry edition: The UN and the global community are totally dysfunctional, so the US should just act on its own:
So 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. And we have great respect for the brave inspectors who endured regime gunfire and obstructions to their investigation.
But as Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general, has said again and again, the U.N. investigation will not affirm who used these chemical weapons. That is not the mandate of the U.N. investigation. They will only affirm whether such weapons were used. By the definition of their own mandate, the U.N. can’t tell us anything that we haven’t shared with you this afternoon or that we don’t already know.
And because of the guaranteed Russian obstructionism of any action through the U.N. Security Council, the U.N. cannot galvanize the world to act as it should. So 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.
Golly, that sounds a lot like … what George W. Bush said in 2002-3, too. And when Bush said it, he put together a coalition comprised of dozens of nations for the invasion of Iraq, including large numbers of British troops and no small amount from other European nations, even with Russia, China, and France balking. Barack Obama can’t even get the British to come along on long-range air strikes, and the only other partner we seem to have now is France. And unlike Barack Obama and Kerry, Bush did go to the UN to at least force a vote on ending Saddam Hussein’s depredations, which included using chemical weapons to massacre his own people.
As it happens, I agree with John Kerry, and have for a very long time. While the UN Security Council is a useful platform for multilateral diplomacy, it’s not a global government, nor should we treat it as such. The US should always act in its own interests, and do its best to get our allies on board for that action. The UN General Assembly is just plain useless. Glad to see the nation’s leading liberals (and internationalists) finally acknowledging that fact — along with the other fact implicitly acknowledged in this speech, which is that the 2009 “reset” with Russia was an embarrassing farce and that the issues with Russia wasn’t the fault of the Bush administration.
Otherwise, Kerry delivered a very forceful speech on behalf of intervention in Syria. Why didn’t Barack Obama make this speech? Why doesn’t the President make this case himself to the American people, and especially to Congress? Since this entire exercise seems designed to rescue his own credibility, it’s more than just a little strange to have Kerry out disdaining the global test he once espoused while Obama sits quietly in the White House.
Update: Count House Armed Services Committee chair Buck McKeon among the unimpressed:
2 things we did not hear from Secretary Kerry. (1) What is our military objective? (2) What legal justification is the Administration using?
— Buck McKeon (@BuckMcKeon) August 30, 2013
Reuters’ David Rohde also wonders why Obama didn’t give this speech himself:
Kerry gave the speech Obama should have delivered. http://t.co/wQkMrsWqF4
— David Rohde (@RohdeD) August 30, 2013
Obama will apparently “remark briefly” on Syria during the White House press spray (photo op) shortly.
Update: Obama refused to allow live coverage of those remarks:
White House has declined TV networks request for live coverage of Pres. Obama's remarks on Syria at 230pm.
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) August 30, 2013