Support for pro-democracy movements in the Middle East could have been crushed without U.S. support for military action against Libya's government, Sen. John KerryJohn KerryFormer Obama officials say Netanyahu turned down secret peace deal: AP How dealmaker Trump can resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict John Kerry to teach at Yale on global issues MORE (D-Mass.) insisted Tuesday.

Kerry, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, made the floor comments as he urged support for a resolution to back President Obama's intervention in Libya.

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Kerry said that the pro-Democracy "Arab Spring" would have been set back without the U.S. involvement.

“Absent U.N./NATO resolve, the promise that the pro-democracy movement holds for transforming the Arab world could have been crushed,” Kerry said. “What is happening in the Middle East could be the most important geostrategic shift since the fall of the Berlin Wall."

Kerry suggested that inaction by the U.S. could empower other despots to strike out against their own people. “Other dictators would have seen the world's failure to challenge Gadhafi as a license to act with impunity against their own people,” he said.

Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerFormer House leader Bob Michel, a person and politician for the ages Former House GOP leader Bob Michel dies at 93 Keystone pipeline builder signs lobbyist MORE (R-Ohio) and members of both parties in the House have criticized Obama for arguing he does not need congressional authorization for the military action, in which the U.S. is now in a support role behind NATO. The criticism has led to suggestions for legislation that could limit the action or cut off funding.

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Kerry and Sen. John McCainJohn McCainA guide to the committees: Senate Webb: The future of conservatism New national security adviser pick marks big change on Russia MORE (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday were arguing against such steps by Congress.

Kerry claimed that NATO's involvement prevented even greater violence on the Libyan people. Early in the conflict, Gadhafi had famously vowed to kill protesters "house to house."

“How many senators have gone to Israel or other parts of the world where we say to people with respect to he Holocaust ‘never again, never again?’" asked Kerry. “Do those words only apply to one group of people or do the words have meaning in terms of genocide?”

Kerry and McCain have offered a resolution that would grant President Obama the congressional authority for a limited U.S. military role.