John Kerry on Monday got down to business, declaring that it was "undeniable" that the Assad regime had used chemical weapons in Syria, and promising that the Obama administration will hold the government there accountable for what he called a "moral obscenity." For good measure, the secretary of state called the attacks that claimed the lives of hundreds a "cowardly crime" and blasted the "cynical attempt to cover it up."
Kerry's remarks, not unlike Obama's from last week, didn't specify what, exactly, the United States plans to do, but his words were nonetheless some of the strongest used by the administration to date during the bloody civil war currently unfolding in the Middle East. They also were the latest signal that the discussion has moved from whether to when. The Washington Post with the instant analysis:
Kerry left little doubt that the decision for the United States is not whether to take military action, but when. He also made clear that the United States will not act alone.
Since an emergency meeting on Syria at the White House on Saturday, Kerry has spent much of the last two days on the telephone with allies Britain, France, and Canada, and with other potential partners. It is not clear whether any allies would commit military resources to a bombing campaign, although Britain and France would be most likely to do so. Any action is not likely to be as broad as the 2011 NATO air campaign in Libya, which involved more than a dozen nations.
NATO has long been opposed to any intervention in Syria, but the chemical weapons attack may change the minds of at least some alliance members. It is not clear whether the Obama administration would seek a NATO mandate for any action
You can read Kerry's full remarks here, or watch the video above. Elsewhere in Slate, Fred Kaplan explains the logic—and limits—for the president’s plan of attack.
This post has been updated with additional information.