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At the end of last week I found myself seriously puzzled by the speeches from Kerry and Obama about what they proposed to do in Syria. They claimed that all they had in mind was a very limited intervention consisting of firing some tomahawk missiles from off the coast. This was supposed to intimidate the man whom they describe as a brutal heartless dictator into being paralyzed with fear at the thought of ever using chemical weapons again. Not only did I not believe that would succeed, I also had trouble believing that they seriously thought that it would.

Now various reports are coming in that strongly suggest that a much more extensive campaign is what is actually being planned and peddled to congress.

President Gains McCain’s Backing on Syria Attack  

There appeared to be broad agreement with the president, Mr. McCain and Mr. Graham said, that any attack on Syria should be to “degrade” the Syrian government’s delivery systems. Such a strike could include aircraft, artillery and the kind of rockets that the Obama administration says the forces of President Bashar al-Assad used to carry out an Aug. 21 sarin attack in the Damascus suburbs that killed more than 1,400 people.

The senators said they planned to meet with Susan E. Rice, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, to discuss the strategy in greater depth.

“It is all in the details, but I left the meeting feeling better than I felt before about what happens the day after and that the purpose of the attack is going to be a little more robust than I thought,” Mr. Graham said in an interview.

So the two ferocious hawks who made such a scene about Obama being a wimp in his attack on Libya are now sold on his plans for Syria. Given the history of Obama's difficulties in persuading Republicans to support him in much of anything, this is a real breakthrough in salesmanship. There were other hawkish types who came out of the congressional briefings very excited by promises of degrading Assad's military assets. This all sounds much more extensive than just a few million dollar missiles.    

Added to this is the news that the US and Israel suddenly find this an ideal time to engage in cooperative military demonstrations.

Israel Carries Out Missile Test With US Help

Israel says it has carried out a missile test in the Mediterranean Sea with the help of the United States.

The Israeli Defense Ministry announced the joint military exercise on Tuesday, shortly after Russia's defense ministry said it had detected the launch of "ballistic objects" in the region.

Israel's ministry says it launched one missile in a exercise that was controlled from a base in "the center of Israel."

The U.S. says it provided "technical assistance and support."

So, Obama assures us that this is not about regime change in Syria. It is looking pretty clearly like it is about much more than a one time punishment. I think that it is reasonable for Americans to ask just what is the real purpose of this intervention. I find it reasonable to believe that the explanations that have been given so far don't stack up well with reality.

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