Fox News’ Chris Wallace referenced Syrian propaganda to suggest that President Obama handed a victory to the Syrian regime by asking Congress to authorize military action against President Bashar Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons.
During his interview with Secretary of State John Kerry for Fox News Sunday, Wallace quoted “officials in Damascus” and a Syria state-run newspaper — Al-Thawra — to argue that the administration has shown weakness in failing to unilaterally strike Syria after presenting evidence that the regime carried out a chemical attack against its own people last month. “Haven’t you handed Syria and Iran at least a temporary victory,” Wallace asked:
WALLACE: You talk about this is going to make it worse for Assad. After the president announced his decision, officials in Damascus were saying that the president had flinched. Had made a joke of the American administration. A newspaper out in the streets of Damascus calls this, “the start of the historic American retreat.” Haven’t you handed Syria and Iran at least a temporary victory?
KERRY: I don’t believe so at all and that is in the hands of the Congress of the U.S. The president has made his decision. The president wants to stand up and make certain that we uphold the international norm…. I think the Assad regime needs to recognize that they have refocused the energy of the American people on him, on his regime.
Al-Thawra, “which as a government outlet reflects regime thinking, also claimed that Obama’s reluctance to take military action stems from his ‘sense of implicit defeat and the disappearance of his allies.'”
During his appearance on all five Sunday political talk shows, Kerry stressed that Obama believes that he has the “right” to launch military action against Syria, but argued that Congressional authorization would only strengthen the U.S. response. He predicted that Congress would vote in favor of military strikes.
On Sunday, the Syrian opposition issued a statement urging lawmakers to approve military action. “If the free world fails to respond to such an outrageous breach of international norms, dictators around the world will be encouraged in their efforts to follow the example set by Assad,” it said.