Secretary of State John Kerry said military action in Syria is not about engaging in the country's civil war, but about "enforcing a norm of international behavior" in a Thursday interview on MSNBC News.
Kerry said that Assad has joined Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein in crossing the proverbial "red line" through his use of chemical weapons, and that inaction will send a "horrendous message of permission."
“If we don’t do this, Assad will have a message that he can use these weapons with impunity," said Kerry. "We will have turned our back on the next batch of children, on the next batch of parents. We will have turned our back on the international norm. We will have lost credibility in the world, and I guarantee you if we turn our backs today, the picture we all saw in the paper today and the media of those people being shot, that will take place more because more extremists will be attracted to this because they will be funded as the only alternative in order to take on Assad.”
Kerry continued his assertion that the effort is not equitable to war, as there will be no American troops on the ground.
"We are all engaged in trying to define, with clarity, what this is," he said. "It is not Iraq. It is not Afghanistan. It is not even Libya. There will be no American boots on the ground. We are not sliding through a back door into a war. We’re not going to war."