The Washington Post

Kerry: Military action in Syria would be ‘unbelievably small’

Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Monday that any military action undertaken in Syria would be "unbelievably small."

ARP3642833_image_982w Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference with Britain's Foreign Minister William Hague at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in central London, on September 9, 2013. (SUSAN WALSH/AFP/Getty Images)

"We will be able to hold [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad accountable without engaging in troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort in a very limited, very targeted, short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria's civil war," Kerry said during an appearance with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, according to The Guardian. "That is exactly what we are talking about doing -- unbelievably small, limited kind of effort."

Kerry, who continues to push the case for intervention during his European trip, was quickly criticized for the remark by Republicans, including supporters of military intervention like House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who said he was effectively previewing what the response would be.

"That’s ... certainly a confusing message to me that he would offer that as somebody who believes this is in our national security interest," Rogers said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), another supporter of military action, later labeled Kerry's comment "unbelievably unhelpful."

The administration has repeatedly emphasized that the United States will not be going to war in Syria and that any efforts would be limited to retaliation for the government's alleged use of chemical weapons on its own people.

But many, including members of Congress, worry that the mission would gradually expand over time.

Here's a sampling of the negative reaction on Twitter:







Updated at 11:47 a.m. with McCain's tweet.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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