John Kerry said today he often sees eye-to-eye with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, but he has to break with the pundit on how to address the crisis in Syria
In his column today, Friedman argued that the United States should arm and train the more moderate Syrian rebels rather than using a missile strike against Assad regime. Representative Steve Cabot (R., Ohio) brought up the column and said he tended to agree with that approach (although he was worried “it may be too late for that” at this stage due to the influence of al-Qaeda groups in the country).
“I often do agree with [Friedman], but I don’t happen to in this particular occasion,” Kerry said. He opposed the columnist’s “arm and shame” argument, saying, “I don’t think Assad is going to be ’shamed’ into any particular activity.” The secretary of state worried that even if moderate rebels receive more aid, Assad will just continue to use chemical weapons on them.
“With all due respect to Tom Friedman, who is most often correct, on this occasion it is absolutely vital that we send a message and deteriorate his capacity,” Kerry concluded.