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View Diary: Overnight News Digest -- "Lies and Skinny Mice" Edition (42 comments)

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  •  President Obama Orders Expansion Of Syrian Targets (14+ / 0-)

    Just reported by the New York Times: Pentagon Is Ordered to Expand Potential Targets in Syria With a Focus on Forces

    President Obama has directed the Pentagon to develop an expanded list of potential targets in Syria in response to intelligence suggesting that the government of President Bashar al-Assad has been moving troops and equipment used to employ chemical weapons while Congress debates whether to authorize military action.

    Mr. Obama, officials said, is now determined to put more emphasis on the “degrade” part of what the administration has said is the goal of a military strike against Syria — to “deter and degrade” Mr. Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons. That means expanding beyond the 50 or so major sites that were part of the original target list developed with French forces before Mr. Obama delayed action on Saturday to seek Congressional approval of his plan.

    For the first time, the administration is talking about using American and French aircraft to conduct strikes on specific targets, in addition to ship-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles. There is a renewed push to get other NATO forces involved.

    The strikes would be aimed not at the chemical stockpiles themselves — risking a potential catastrophe — but rather the military units that have stored and prepared the chemical weapons and carried the attacks against Syrian rebels, as well as the headquarters overseeing the effort, and the rockets and artillery that have launched the attacks, military officials said Thursday. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that other targets would include equipment that Syria uses to protect the chemicals — air defenses, long-range missiles and rockets, which can also deliver the weapons.

    If the reporting is true, one way to read this is that it might be a response to the John McCain & Lindsay Graham types, since it in some ways fits more with the sort of policy they wanted to get from the amendments added to the Senate's use of force resolution.

    On the other hand, once you have manned aircraft flying over Syria, you also have the possibility of them being shot down and the pilots ending up as prisoners/hostages to be paraded for a camera.

    •  Limited military involvement could backfire (12+ / 0-)

      I do not envy Gen. Dempsey. If the use of force is authorized by Congress, he is going to be given an impossible mission to perform with his hands tied and eyes blindfolded. He said there is a lot of risk in a strike against Syria, "even limited military involvement could backfire". A limited strike, which is the Obama/warhawk plan, is unlikely to eliminate Assad's ability to kill.

      The U.S. could also opt for strikes using aircraft and missiles fired from outside Syria, which could potentially hit "hundreds" of military targets and significantly degrade the government's strength over time, he said. But doing so would take hundreds of aircraft, ships and submarines. Syria could potentially "withstand limited strikes by dispersing its assets," he said.
      Securing chemical weapons means boots on the ground.
      Controlling Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles would require air and missile strikes, as well as thousands of special operations troops, Dempsey said. "The impact would be the control of some but not all chemical weapons," he said.
      Only way to deal with Assad is full-blown war and that's not what Congress is going to authorize, if they authorize use of force at all.
      •  In For A Penny, In For A Pound (9+ / 0-)

        If they authorize the use of force, I don't think either the President or Congress will be able to turn back. In fact, I think that's what McCain sort of knows in pushing for as much as he can get out of this resolution. The more we get drawn into this, the harder it becomes to just say "Oh well, that didn't work out. Let's just get our stuff and go home."

        I believe that when he was couseling Lyndon Johnson in the mid-60s about Vietnam, Clark Clifford opposed an expansion & told him to get out. However, after President Johnson ordered more troops to southeast Asia & got bogged down, Clifford opposed an immediate withdrawal on the basis that once we've committed to the situation, we couldn't just leave without a loss of face.

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