Infographic: The Words John Kerry Uses When He Talks About Syria

  • Share
  • Read Later

In the past two weeks, Secretary of State John Kerry has emerged as the Obama administration’s chief public advocate for punitive strikes against Syria. In a whirlwind tour of Sunday news shows and congressional hearings, Kerry has consistently hammered away at two points: That the intelligence is airtight, and that Obama’s move to Congress’s blessing in no way undermines his resolve.

A TIME analysis of the language of 12 Kerry statements and interviews, dating back to an Aug. 26 statement on the evidence of a chemical attack and including his Sept. 1 sweep of all five major Sunday shows, found unusually high traces of resolution from a normally deliberative administration. Kerry used the phrase “beyond a reasonable doubt” five times over the course of two appearances before congressional committees, for example, telling one lawmaker that “For all the lawyers, for all the former prosecutors, for all those who have sat on a jury, I can tell you that we know these things beyond a reasonable doubt that is the standard by which we send people to jail for the rest of their lives.”

Kerry characterized Obama’s call for a vote a “courageous decision” on seven occasions, while suggesting that the decision to support the president is “common sense.”

The following infographic presents the top phrases that TIME’s automated analysis of Kerry’s language turned up. Some are predictable, like the fact that Kerry said “chemical weapons” 122 times or denied plans to put “boots on the ground” 16 times. Others are more surprising, like Kerry’s repeated evocation of “crystal clear” communications, the 16 times he evoked World Wars I and II, and the 13 times he evoked North Korea. In a sign of the times, he made seven references to “social media” in reviewing the evidence that a chemical attack took place.

Note: In the interest of sidestepping the drudgery of word clouds, this interactive only counts phrases, not individual words.

With Maya Rhodan