Before Mondays meeting with Senator John McCain and Graham both men had stated the administrations call for limited strikes was inadequate. According to the WSJ “said they couldn’t support isolated military strikes without a broader plan to change the dynamic of the civil war.” Apparently the President is considering their request.
I find this interesting as 3 months after the White House authorized the CIA to arm the moderate rebels, according to the WSJ not a single weapon has gone forward due to a fear for the outcome if they succeed… I think they also fear the weapons going in to the wrong hands once in Syria.
So they question I pose as a former planner.. Are we trying to deter and degrade chemical weapons capability or is our strategy going to expand to make a difference in the civil war? I see the latter expanding our continued involvement in Syria despite our fear of the result.
According to the press, Pentagon (CENTCOM actually) planners were told not to offer strike packages that could help drive Assad from power, but the McCain//Graham request to modify our strikes seems to open this line of bombing as an option. Silly me, but if we bomb shouldn’t we be taking out chemical weapons capability by bombs, UAVs or other options? Oh yeah, I forgot, with all of this build up Syria has had plenty if time to hide their weapons and chemicals, further reducing the effectiveness of a military strike now.
So do we now have a grand strategy for transition of power in Syria? Who is in charge of Phase 6 operations…rebuilding, and whose troops and $$ will pay for this? Who is planning for the next step?
If Congress votes for expansion, what is our desired end state? Who would we push to take over? Right now there is no valid political “govt” that could take over despite the attempts of Turkey and Saudi Arabia over the last 2 years. I fear that the best organized and the most brutal AQ groups would fight for total control – as the have the best weapons and monetary backing of the rebel groups.
Let me be honest, I am no fan of Assad, but ffwd a little to if he is taken out – If AQ and some extreme Sunnis take the helm expect a battle between the Sunnis for control, a slaughter of the Alawite minority- like Iraq Sunnis a decade ago- and continued fighting among the minorities and faction such as the Kurds/Sunni/Sh’ia groups.
Sectarian strife would continue and the possible breakup of Syria. The Iraqi Kurds have already said they will come to aid their brothers. I know Qatar and Saudi Arabia will continue to support their friends, and Iran the same. Meanwhile the US will still be looking for the Moderate rebels and wondering how we need to help.
Oh yeah, wasn’t this action supposed to be deter and degrade chemical weapons capability? Wasn’t this supposed to be multilateral operations led by our President who was given a Nobel prize for multilateral diplomacy in 2009?
Above is my prediction for the road ahead on our current course of action. I can only hope that our military planners are providing the same warnings to the Central Command Commander for his discussions with the President.
But as I know from my studies, war is just an extension of politics, and our President seems keen on more involvement. I just hope Congress or he realizes the pull of continued operations once you get involved. I believe Gen Powell was the one who stated about Iraq ” if you broke it, you bought it… ” and we would be looked at to be the transition force.
It would be nice though to know precisely what our strategy and desired end state is going forward and if our military action even supports that strategy OR helps the rebels.