John Kerry and Chuck Hagel proposed military intervention in Syria during a Senate panel on Tuesday. The public hearing was the first time members of Congress publicly spoke about the possible action.
The hearings come after President Barack Obama requested congressional authorization for limited military strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Discussions and comments on the possible military intervention will likely be the main talk in Washington, D.C., in the coming days, reports The Huffington Post.
Obama has already won conditional support from two senators who he normally disagrees with on foreign policy. Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham announced their support on Monday.
Along with them, Kerry, Hagel, and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey also appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday.
At the hearing, Fox News notes that Kerry made a forceful case for limited military intervention in Syria. He argued that not responding to a reported chemical weapons attack in the country would open a “Pandora’s box” full of “dangerous consequences” for the United States.
Despite the case made by the US Secretary of State and the Defense Secretary, some lawmakers remained skeptical about a “limited” strike on Syria. They wondered if the proposed attack would have limited impact and whether it would draw the United States deeper into the nation’s bloody civil war.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was one who opposed the idea of military action in Syria. He commented to Kerry that no one was calling his office “in favor of this war.” Kerry responded that the administration doesn’t “believe we are going to war in the classic sense,” adding, “The president is not asking you to go to war.”
Kerry added that inaction in the case of Syria’s reported chemical weapons use would cause the United States’ allies to wonder if America’s word was worth trusting. He added that enemies would also be more willing to test the nation’s resolve.
Kerry and President Obama have expressed that they will be surprised if Congress votes not to act in Syria.