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John Kerry: We Are Not Going To War "In The Classic Sense"

"100% of Americans will say no" to war in Syria, Kerry said.

Posted on September 3, 2013, at 6:29 p.m. ET

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presents the administration's case for U.S. military action against Syria to a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in Washington September 3, 2013.

Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a fiery rebuke to Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul's line of questioning at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on possible U.S. engagement in Syria Tuesday. Kerry said Americans were not going to be declaring war "in the classic sense," and that "100% of Americans would say no to such a scenario.

"We don't want to go to war. We don't believe we are going to go war in the classic sense of taking american troops and America to war," Kerry said to Paul. "The president is asking for the authority to do a limited action that will degrade the capacity of a tyrant who has been using chemical weapons to kill his own people. It's a limited action. It's limited."

Kerry continued, abated, by Sen. Paul saying, "if your goal is not to win you shouldn't be involved."

"Senator, when people are asked do you want to go to war in Syria? Of course not. Everybody, 100% of Americans will say no, we say no. We don't want to go to war in Syria either. It is not what we are here to ask. The President it is not asking you to go to war. He is not asking you to declare war. He is not asking you to send one American troop to war," Kerry said.

Kerry, making the case that action would be limited, said action was needed to degrade Assad's capacity to use chemical weapons. Arguing again it wasn't war in the "classic" sense.

"He is simply saying we need to take an action that can degrade the capacity of a man who has been willing to kill his own people by breaking a nearly 100-year-old prohibition, and will we stand up and be counted to say we won't do that," Kerry added. "Ya know, I just don't consider that going to war in the classic sense of coming to congress and asking for a declaration of war and training troops and sending people abroad and putting young americans in harms way. That is not what the president is asking for here."

Earlier in the hearing, Kerry said he didn't want to "take off the table an option" of Americans ground troops being involved in the case of chemical weapons falling into the hands of someone not in support of U.S. interests.

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