Secretary of State John Kerry directly addressed protesters of President Barack Obama’s war plans against ISIS during testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday as he made the administration’s case for taking military action against the terrorist organization.
“I respect the right of Code Pink to protest and to use that right,” the former Massachusetts senator said, referring to the omnipresent anti-war group started by activist Medea Benjamin in 2002 to protest President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. As Kerry spoke, three Code Pink protesters held up signs directly behind him, reading “There is no military solution,” “Don’t take ISIL war bait,” and “No beheading no bombing.”
Kerry referenced his own opposition to the Vietnam War in 1971, but argued that this current effort will advance the very causes championed by the anti-war organization.
“Code Pink was started by a woman and women who were opposed to war but who also thought the government’s job was to take care of people and to give them healthcare and education and good jobs,” he said. “And if that’s what you believe in, and I believe it is, then you ought to care about fighting ISIL because ISIL is killing and raping and mutilating women and they believe women shouldn’t have an education.”
Kerry added that the government cannot negotiate with the terrorist group, which he said, is “not offering education of any kind.” In recent days, the organization has curtailed art and music class and “permanently annulled” classes about history and Christianity.”
The Islamic State group has declared patriotic songs blasphemous and ordered that certain pictures be torn out of textbooks.
As he called on Code Pink to “stop and think about how you stop them and deal with that,” a protester yelled out, “more invasion will not protect the homeland! more invasion will not protect the homeland!”
Kerry’s remarks came a day after Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey suggested that President Obama could consider putting boots on the ground in Iraq to help Iraqis perform particular missions. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest reiterated Obama’s opposition to putting combat troops back into Iraq on Wednesday however, and said that the commander-in-chief would only authorize troops “for forward deployment” in an advisory role.