Is the US staging for a strike on Syria?

posted at 10:01 am on August 26, 2013 by Bruce McQuain

Because of Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons on its people that is becoming  a distinct possibility.  The Telegraph is reporting:

Royal Navy vessels are being readied to take part in a possible series of cruise missile strikes, alongside the United States, as military commanders finalise a list of potential targets.

Government sources said talks between the Prime Minister and international leaders, including Barack Obama, would continue, but that any military action that was agreed could begin within the next week.

What is being discussed is a “Libya style” intervention:

Military sources suggested the early hours of the 2011 campaign against Col Muammar Gaddafi could form a template for any operation. The Libya campaign began with a blitz of Tomahawk cruise missiles from US warships and from a British Trafalgar Class submarine.

The question is, “and then what?”  Will the American public stand for troops on the ground or will politicians limit the incursion to air strikes (designed, one supposes to destroy their ability to deploy chemical weapons) and the establishment of “no fly” zones.

At the moment their doesn’t appear to be much of an answer.  The irony is that well over 20,000 have been killed in the two year old civil war yet only now is R2P being invoked.

What sort of support would any sort of intervention in Syria have among the American public?  Not much:

Americans strongly oppose U.S. intervention in Syria’s civil war and believe Washington should stay out of the conflict even if reports that Syria’s government used deadly chemicals to attack civilians are confirmed, a Reuters/Ipsos poll says.

About 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria’s civil war, while just 9 percent thought President Barack Obama should act.

For most it is hard to justify the intervention as something that fits in the category of being in the compelling national interest of the United States.  Frankly we lucked out in Libya and things, for the most part, broke our way militarily.  The political aftermath, however, has been a disaster.

Syria promises to be a much more difficult military venture and the possibility of political disaster is much higher.  On the military side, it has better command and control and more sophisticated air defenses.  It won’t be as easy an intervention as Libya.

And, of course, once we do intervene, then what?  Who takes over if we’re successful in toppling the Assad regime?  Most people are aware of the fact that the opposition to the mostly secular Assad regime is a collection of Muslim extremist groups.  How friendly are they going to be to the US?  And, if it is true that Assad has a huge stockpile of chemical weapons, who will have control of them when he falls and how do those talking intervention plan on stopping that stockpile from falling into the wrong hands?

One has to wonder if these questions have even been asked yet, and, if they have, what contingencies are in place to help shape the outcome.  Or, as it seems is usual now days, will the Obama administration shoot first and ask questions later?

~McQ

Blogging at QandO


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