WH chief of staff: We're a coalition of one, or something

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough made the full Ginsburg yesterday, but whether he did his boss any good remains to be seen.  McDonough got chewed up by CNN’s Candy Crowley on State of the Union yesterday when he claimed that the world supported the US on its intent to punish Bashar al-Assad for the use of chemical weapons — laughably even claiming the support of a former Iranian president.  Crowley repeatedly asked whether that translated into a single nation willing to provide material support for military action, and McDonough repeatedly refused to answer the question … which, of course, answers the question (via The Corner):


When asked this morning if the U.S. has any pledges of military support for strikes in Syria, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough emphasized that the G20 and other nations have made supportive condemnations of the Syrian government’s actions, but when repeatedly pressed by CNN’s Candy Crowley, he provided no examples of countries that have endorsed or will provide personnel or equipment for a military intervention.

He wouldn’t explicitly admit that the U.S. has no allies willing to provide support, saying, “You’re trying to get me to say that, but I’m not going to say it.” There is specific support from the EU and others, he said, for “holding Syria accountable.”

McDonough also tried to claim justification for military action through the Convention that bars the use of chemical weapons — and then panicked and spoke over Crowley when she tried to point out that the Convention doesn’t actually authorize a military response.  Instead, McDonough finishes his argument by claiming that a lack of American action now would mean Syria and other nations would use chemical weapons against our soldiers, which of course would only happen if America started wars with other nations on their soil …. like McDonough advocates with Syria now.

Of course, John Kerry would object to that characterization.  He wants everyone to know that our attack on Syria would be “unbelievably small,” which is hardly a selling point for a strategy of deterrence, let along degradation of capabilities:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States is considering only an “unbelievably, small, limited” strike on Syria as punishment for allegedly using chemical weapons and he insisted military action will not end that country’s civil war.

“We’re not going to war,” Mr. Kerry told reporters Monday after meeting with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in London. “We will be able to hold [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad accountable without engaging troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort, in a very limited, very targeted, very short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria’s civil war. That is exactly what we are talking about doing; an unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”

“Unbelievably small.” Like a Coalition of One?