Meet the Press   |  September 01, 2013

Kerry: 'I don't think Congress will turn its back on this moment'

Secretary of State John Kerry discusses the potential outcomes for action if Capitol Hill lawmakers do not authorize a strike in Syria.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> president's made his decision you say to take military action . if you go to congress and congress says no, you don't have our authority to strike, will the president move forward with military action against syria anyway?

>> david, let me be very blunt. i do not believe congress of the united states will turn its back on this moment. i think the interests that we have with respect to potential future confrontation, hopefully not, but the challenge of iran, the challenges of the region, the challenge of standing up for and standing beside our ally israel, helping to shore up jordan, all of these things are very, very powerful interests.

>> i understand. but if congress says no --

>> i believe congress will pass it.

>> if congress says no, the president will act regardless of what congress says?

>> i said that the president has the authority to act, but the congress is going to do what's right here.

>> you know there's a debate, and the debate will continue in congress about the future of assad and what the united states actually ought to do. the president talks about narrow, limited action, almost punishment against assad . you've called assad a murderer and a thug. in the past, the president has said that he has to go. you know senator mccain and others have said they would only support a strategy that ultimately topples assad . why not go beyond something that's limited and narrow? why not try to erode his conventional capability, and indeed even try to topple him from power?

>> well, let me draw a distinction here, david. the president of the united states has said that assad must go, and this is the policy of the united states . but we do not believe that this military action the president has decided to take should be more than an effort to try to deter and prevent the use of chemical weapons and to degrade his capacity to use those weapons. so the military operation is not calculated to become involved in the effort to topple him, but the political operation and the support for the opposition is. and the president of the united states , as you know, has declared that we will provide additional support to the opposition. we do not believe there is any scenario under which assad can continue with any kind of authority whatsoever to govern in syria. and so, yes, the policy is politically through the geneva process, through our commitment to the ultimate negotiated settlement that will have to take place, there is no future for assad in that governance. but this military operation is specifically geared to prevent a future chemical attack and to deter and to degrade the assad capacity to be able to do that. now let me be clear. whatever the president ultimately decides to do in that context i assure you assad will feel its impact and they will know that something has happened.