(Washington, D.C.) — The countdown to military action appears to be underway.
But if the U.S. and her allies decide to launch military strikes in Syria, it will only do so after publicly presenting evidence of chemical weapons usage by the Assad regime, senior administration officials say. This is right. It is important that the record be clear before the U.S. makes any decision about using force.
At the same time, if the President orders military action — and reportedly he has not made a final decision — it would be of limited duration. We’re talking about airstrikes, missile strikes, against key regime targets, not an invasion or anything close to it. This is also important. If WMD has been used to murder people, action must be taken. The perpetrators must be punished. But we must be wise about how we act. We do not want al Qaeda or the Muslim Brotherhood or some other even more Radical Islamic force to rise to power in the wake of the Assad regime.
We need to pray for peace, but prepare for war. I don’t want another war in the Middle East. But it’s already underway, a brutal civil war that has already taken the lives of more than 100,000 Syrians. A great evil has been unleashed by the government of that country, as well as by the jihadist rebels. I don’t think it is our place to intervene in the Syrian civil war to try to pick winners and losers, per se. But we cannot stand idly by if cruel leaders are using weapons of mass destruction. Such actions must be punished and everyone in the region must know that the offensive use of WMD will not be tolerated.
“President Barack Obama has ordered the release of new evidence ahead of a limited military operation in Syria following the Assad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians,” reports the Associated Press. “The Obama administration will seek to provide concrete evidence that President Bashar Assad’s forces have used chemical weapons, thereby justifying American military intervention and avoiding a debacle similar to the one that ensued when the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq failed to produce a ‘smoking gun.'”
“That war was launched by the George W. Bush administration under the pretense that Iraq’s then-ruler, Saddam Hussein, had stockpiled weapons of mass destruction, an allegation which was never substantiated,” stated the AP. “Unlike the invasion of Iraq, however, US-led military action in Syria will likely be brief and limited in scope, a punishment for chemical attacks and a deterrent against future use of nonconventional weapons, administration officials told the Washington Post on Monday, stressing that the United States had no desire to become embroiled in the civil war there. Two administration officials said the US was expected to make public a more formal determination of chemical weapons use on Tuesday, with an announcement of Obama’s response likely to follow quickly. The officials insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the internal deliberations….”
“Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday there was ‘undeniable’ evidence of a large-scale chemical weapons attack in Syria, with intelligence strongly pointing to Assad’s government, and that ‘this international norm cannot be violated without consequences.’ He said the administration would be presenting evidence supporting its allegations against Assad.”
Meanwhile, the Times of Israel is reporting that “an IDF intelligence unit listened in on senior Syrian officials discussing a chemical attack that allegedly took place on the outskirts of Damascus and left hundreds of Syrian civilians dead last Wednesday,” citing a major German publication. “According to the report Saturday in Focus magazine, a squad specializing in wire-tapping within the IDF’s prestigious 8200 intelligence unit intercepted a conversation between high-ranking regime officials regarding the use of chemical agents at the time of the attack. The German report, which cited an ex-Mossad official who insisted on remaining anonymous, said the intercepted conversation proved that Bashar Assad’s regime was responsible for the use of nonconventional weapons.”
That said, the Washington Post is reporting that “President Obama is weighing a military strike against Syria that would be of limited scope and duration, designed to serve as punishment for Syria’s use of chemical weapons and as a deterrent, while keeping the United States out of deeper involvement in that country’s civil war, according to senior administration officials. The timing of such an attack, which would probably last no more than two days and involve sea-launched cruise missiles — or, possibly, long-range bombers — striking military targets not directly related to Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, would be dependent on three factors: completion of an intelligence report assessing Syrian government culpability in last week’s alleged chemical attack; ongoing consultation with allies and Congress; and determination of a justification under international law.”
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