Reed has long been a voice of caution on how to handle Syria and has been pretty vocal about it:SCHIEFFER: This morning, the Syrian government said it would allow U.N. inspectors into the country. President Obama, of course, has said the use of chemical weapons would be a red line. So where does that leave the United States? To talk about it, we turn first to a senior Democrat on the Senate armed services committee, Jack Reed of Rhodes Island. Well, as I understand it this morning, they're going to let the inspectors in. Does that make any difference?
REED: It will help because one of the first things that we have to do is verify, although there is increasing evidence that the Assad regime conducted a horrific attack on its own people, but we have to verify that it was directed by the Assad regime. Because that will allow us to build an international coalition, which is absolutely necessary to take any further steps in Syria. And also, it will help defuse some of the countries like Iran and Russia, who are trying to pawn this off on the rebels, the opposition. So it's critical. And then, after that, of course, the president has to consider what response he might take.
SCHIEFFER: Well, what do think he ought to do, Senator?
REED: Well, first of all, I think he has to be careful about defining what is our objective. And in this situation, I believe our objective is to make it prohibitive for any country to use chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction. So a military option that would be limited to that point is something that he should be thinking about very carefully. But I think we can't let ourselves get into a situation where this becomes a springboard for a general military operation in Syria to try to change the dynamic. That dynamic is going to be long-term, very difficult, and ultimately established and settled by the Syrians, not by foreign powers. - Face The Nation, 8/25/13
Here's a little more background info:"This has to be an international operation, it can't be a unilateral American approach," Reed said on CBS television's Face the Nation show. "It has to have support internationally, not just politically, but militarily," he said, adding that Washington could not get into a "general military operation in Syria." - Reuters, 8/25/13
Reed is not alone in calling on the Obama Administration to practice extreme caution before acting:Moving a step closer to possible American military action in Syria, a senior Obama administration official said Sunday that there was “very little doubt” that President Bashar al-Assad’s military forces had used chemical weapons against civilians last week and that a Syrian promise to allow United Nations inspectors access to the site was “too late to be credible.”
The official, in a written statement, said that “based on the reported number of victims, reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured, witness accounts and other facts gathered by open sources, the U.S. intelligence community, and international partners, there is very little doubt at this point that a chemical weapon was used by the Syrian regime against civilians in this incident.”
The statement, released Sunday morning on the condition that the official not be named, reflected a tougher tone after President Obama’s meeting at the White House on Saturday with his national security team, during which advisers discussed options for military action.
While administration officials emphasized that Mr. Obama had not decided to take action, they said he was determined not to be drawn into a protracted debate over gaining access for the United Nations investigators, because of doubts that they could now produce credible findings.
Officials say that a list of possible targets for a military strike has been circulating in the White House since late last week. The list, which the Pentagon originally prepared months ago for Mr. Obama, includes both chemical-weapons sites and broader military and government targets, depending on the type of action the president orders. If strikes are carried out, the targets would probably be hit by cruise missiles fired from Navy ships.
The president, who warned a year ago that the use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces would be a “red line,” has faced criticism from Congressional Republicans and others for failing to respond more forcefully to evidence of earlier, smaller-scale chemical attacks. Mr. Obama, who inherited two costly wars — in Iraq and Afghanistan — has been extremely reluctant to commit American military forces, even in the form of missile strikes, to another tangled conflict in the Middle East.
But on Sunday, the White House seemed to take a harder line, dismissing the Syrian promise of possible access by United Nations inspectors. - New York Times, 8/25/13
Tehre's a good reason for Reed and Corker to call on Obama to be careful about his next move:U.S. lawmakers from both political parties urged a limited American military response, such as cruise missile strikes, but a senior Democrat, Senator Jack Reed, cautioned that any move by Washington should not be unilateral.
Senator Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, said he had discussed the issue with the administration in the past week and believed Obama would ask Congress for authorization for intervention once Congress returns from its recess on September9.
"I think we will respond in a surgical way and I hope the president as soon as we get back to Washington will ask for authorization from Congress to do something in a very surgical and proportional way," he told Fox News Sunday.
Americans strongly oppose U.S. intervention in Syria's civil war and believe Washington should stay out of the conflict even if the reports are true that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons, a Reuters/Ipsos poll says. - Chicago Tribune. 8/25/13
Syrian officials have stated that any action form the U.S. has sever consequences:Syria’s information minister said any U.S. military action would “create a ball of fire that will inflame the Middle East”.
He said Damascus had evidence that chemical weapons were used by rebels fighting to topple Assad, not by his government. That argument is given credence by Assad’s ally Russia, but dismissed by Western countries that believe the rebels have no access to poison gas or the big weapons needed to deliver it.
Western leaders have been phoning each other in recent days to discuss a possible coordinated international response.
The White House said Obama and French President Francois Hollande “discussed possible responses by the international community and agreed to continue to consult closely.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed there was little doubt the attack was carried out by the Syrian government and that “such an attack demanded a firm response from the international community,” Cameron’s office said.
“We cannot in the 21st century allow the idea that chemical weapons can be used with impunity,” said British Foreign Secretary William Hague. “We believe it’s very important that there is a strong response and that dictators ... know that the use of chemical weapons is to cross a line and that the world will respond when that line is crossed.”
Hollande’s office said: “France is determined that this act does not go unpunished.” - Toronto Sun, 8/25/13
So far no action has been taken but I thank Senator Reed for remaining to be a strong voice of caution. Please do contact his office to thank him and continue to talk to the administration about thinking first about their decision. You can also send your questions here:In an interview with The Associated Press in Damascus, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad said airstrikes or other action against Syria would also trigger "chaos" and threaten worldwide peace and security.
He spoke Monday as support for an international response was mounting if it is confirmed that President Bashar Assad's troops were responsible for the Aug. 21 attack, which activists say killed hundreds.
The Obama administration is now talking behind the scenes as if there is almost no doubt about Assad's use of chemical weapons, CBS News senior White House correspondent Major Garrett reported on "CBS This Morning."
President Obama is moving toward a military strike against Syria. Any final decisions haven't been made, but senior administration officials talk of Syria now as a place where the U.S. and its allies must exact a military price for heavy use of chemical weapons. There is no longer serious debate within the administration if the Assad regime used chemical weapons last week.
Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday condemned the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Syria, calling it a "moral obscenity" that could soon bring a military response during a press conference at the State Department. Kerry appeared to be outlining a justification for possible U.S. military action.
"This is about the large scale, indiscriminate use of weapons that the civilized world long ago decided must never be used at all, a conviction shared even by countries that agree on little else," Kerry said at the State Department. "There is a clear reason that the world has banned entirely the use of chemical weapons."
The U.N. weapons inspector team currently in Syria is not going to assign blame for any potential chemical weapons attack -- instead just investigate whether one occurred -- making any chance the Security Council will back international action in the two-year-old civil war even less likely. Russia has long been a firm backer of the Assad regime, and on Sunday warned the U.S. to not turn Syria into another Iraq. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday any intervention in Syria without a Security Council resolution would be a grave violation of international law, according to Reuters.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday the Obama administration is "considering all different options." - CBS News, 8/26/13