Inhofe: Kerry sought to 'sell' senators on use of force against Syria

Obama administration officials offered no new details about possible military action against Syria in a call with congressional leaders Thursday, according to Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.). 

Inhofe, who was on the call but acknowledged missing its last 15 minutes, said Secretary of State John Kerry made an aggressive effort to convince lawmakers to support a strike against Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons.

"It was an hour-and-a-half of John Kerry trying to sell us on the President's program of military intervention in Syria," Inhofe said on Fox News Friday.

He said Kerry wants to present a "broad range of options" for action, but added: "We talked for an hour-and-a-half, and they didn't mention one of the options."


The call was part of the administration's ongoing effort to swing congressional opinion toward acceptance of limited military strikes against Syria. Aside from Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and National Intelligence Director Jim Clapper were also on the call with more than two dozen congressional leaders.

Hagel on Friday rejected Inhofe's claim that the Syria briefing was an attempt to sell lawmakers on military action. 

"The objective of the call [Thursday] was not to convince anyone of anything," Hagel said. "The objective was to give the leaders of the Congress an update on our thinking and where we are on this issue,"

Kerry is expected to make a public statement on Syria at 12:30 p.m. today.

Inhofe noted that during the call, the news broke that the British Parliament voted 272-285 against using force against Syria.

"So things are not moving in their direction," he said.

Inhofe said he was the only one on the call who opposed military intervention. He said he is worried that the military does not have the resources to engage in a new conflict.

"We don't have the resources. We don't have the assets to get involved in another conflict," he said. "Let's face it: The military's been so degraded in the last four-and-a-half years under the Obama administration that we're now furloughing people."

Inhofe also agreed with Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who said earlier in the day that military action appears to be a way for President Obama to avoid looking weak. Obama said months ago that the use of chemical weapons would cross a "red line" that would demand a U.S. response.

"He should not have said what he said," Inhofe said of Obama. "It was bad enough to say that, but then not to define what the red line was and when they crossed the red line, that put us in a situation where the president has to do something.

"And so now, the effort is to try to get the leadership of Congress … to try to support him in this."

Updated at 12:15 p.m.