THE PENTAGON: As Congress continues to receive thousands of letters and email expressing opposition to any American military action against Syria, the Pentagon and the rest of the Obama administration keeps hammering away at the idea that any strikes will be limited and won’t involve any “boots on the ground.”

Here are some of the problems we face.

it’s so difficult to strike and completely destroy chemical weapons without harming civilians that the US won’t try to destroy them. In fact, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters today that the US hoped security around the chemical agents would “remain intact,” which sounds a lot like we hope Syrian forces would continue to safeguard the stockpiles of sarin and other weapons as long as they don’t use them.

So many countries are willing to decry Basher al Assad’s use of chemical weapons and tendency to kill lots of his citizens and so few countries are willing to do something of a military nature to, in the administration’s phrase, “deter and degrade” Assad’s ability to use the weapons again, that Little wasn’t willing to list any country that might help even after a reporter gave him the chance to publicly list our supporters. “I don’t have a precise list to offer,” he said, adding that “we do believe we would be joined by other countries.” (One is tempted to say, thank god for France, America’s only truly reliable ally these days when the Middle East or Africa gets messy.)

The Pentagon’s cash flow position is so unfavorable — to use Wall Street talk — that the head of the Navy, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, felt compelled today to say he’d need some extra cash if operations lasted past October 1, when the new fiscal year begins.

Since all this boils down to deterrence — which most experts say is best done with overwhelming force to prevent and immediate retaliation to deter — just how worried should Syria’s national security leadership be, since they will presumably have several weeks to get ready for our attacks? “If I were in the Syrian military right now, facing the prospect of American military action with international partners, it would make me think twice about using chemical weapons again,” Little said at this afternoon’s press briefing.

Meanwhile, most reports indicate that the flow of opinion from the American public to Capitol HIll indicates deep and abiding skepticism and resistance to any US strike against Syria. Add to that the resistance of leftish Democrats to war and of Tea Party Republicans to anything that involves spending money on foreigners — even if it’s to kill them — and the Obama administration faces a steep incline. Perhaps President Obama is reconsidering his weekend decision to seek the American public’s approval in the form of its national representatives. If not, the current morass would seem to argue forcefully in favor of presidents who will strike first and seek approval later, except when we must declare real war — at least for now. All this may change in the next few weeks.


Favorite moment of today’s press conference: Little was asked by a foreign reporter if the US was taking its eye off the Afghanistan ball because of Syria. “Let me be clear: we can walk and talk and chew gum at the same time.” Take that, Assad!













  • Don Bacon

    SecDef Hagel: “In the meantime, we encourage nations to peacefully resolve their
    disputes through internationally accepted mechanism and in accordance
    with international law.”

    Hagel wasn’t talking about Syria, of course, he was talking about (i.e. hypocritically lecturing to) China, on a recent visit to Philippines.

  • Don Bacon

    Here’s some details from the Senate Resolution. on the “limited engagement” Obama is about to exceed, if we use Libya as an example. (And look how that turned out.)

    The President is authorized, subject to subsection (b), to use the Armed Forces of the United States as the President determines to be necessary and appropriate in a limited and specified manner against legitimate military targets in Syria, only to
    (1) respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction by the Government of Syria in the conflict in Syria;
    (2) deter Syria’s use of such weapons in order to protect the national security interests of the United States and to protect United States allies and partners against the use of such weapons;
    (3) degrade Syria’s capacity to use such weapons in the future; and
    (4) prevent the transfer to terrorist groups or other state or non-state actors within Syria of any weapons of mass destruction.

    So, since this verbage is unrestrictive, allowing the president to “respond,” Obama can do whatever he wants with two restrictions:
    — does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Syria for the purpose of combat operations
    –shall terminate 60 days after the date of the enactment of this joint resolution, except that the President may extend, for a single period of 30 days

    BUT –of course if the war escalates, which it probably will do, considering that the enemy has a vote in this too, there would be no restrictions. Obama could put boots on the ground for “noncombat” operations, and Obama would have a free reign to extend hostilities.

    Actually, Obama has made it clear that he has no restrictions. The law doesn’t apply to him, whether it be international or domestic.

    • UH34D

      Please Don…if that were the case and Obama wanted to ignore everybody, he would have ordered the attack on Syria already and we would be discussing his authority to have done so.
      What’s galling is how the right has suddenly become anti-attack/anti-war. Very little qualms by the right to attack Afghanistan, Iraq, insert American troops into other areas of the Arabain Peninsula & Africa when Obama was not our president. Now, it’s an entire change in the majority of the rights ideology. All gung ho to go after the bad guys prior to 1/20/2009 but now, suddenly, the right becomes pacifists.
      For the record, I don’t support an attack on Syria, just like I didn’t support the invasion of Iraq. We let the genie out of the lamp with that fiasco and now the world will be paying the price for decades to come. So much for someone claiming they knew Muslims were looking for ‘freedom and democracy.’

      • 42itous

        Equally galling is that the left is no longer anti-war now that a democrat is in office. They were never really anti-war after all, just anti-Bush. The Democratic political base used the anti-war protest movements for their own political gains. Once their objectives were achieved the donations for these groups dried up.
        Obama’s actions in his second term will be heavily influenced by his desire to cement his legacy. Thus his desire to have Congress provide supporting fires.
        Voting against military action is easy when you’re a junior congressman. When this same person becomes POTUS he learns the real meaning of the burden of leadership. If only he could blame Syria on his predecessor…

      • Don Bacon

        if that were the case and Obama wanted to ignore everybody, he would have ordered the attack on Syria already

        1. Timing — Obama didn’t want this new war initiated while he was in Russia
        2. Obama was confident that he could succeed in a war vote — it’s always worked before. That way he could have some cover when the attack on Syria (1) resulted in US naval losses and/or (2) escalated into a major conflict.
        3. Obama may actually lose the vote, but there are reports that Obama will “ignore everybody” because he has the “executive authority” to do any damn thing he pleases. He’s always been self-centered, from his campaign days onward, plus he has no character.

        • PolicyWonk

          3. Obama may actually lose the vote, but there are reports that Obama will “ignore everybody” because he has the “executive authority” to do any damn thing he pleases. He’s always been self-centered, from his campaign days onward, plus he has no character.
          I see the “tin-foil” hat crowd remains alive and well, despite their hats being on a little tight. Odd, how conservatives never made a peep about overreaching executive authority when it came to giving it to the worst/least competent POTUS in over a century, and then tried to blame the NSA for overreaching under this administration when the patriot act (in its current flavor) was approved over 7 years ago, when the executive branch and both houses of representatives were under GOP control.
          That said, the war vote might yet succeed. But there could be a terrible cost in 2014 to those who vote to approve it given the American publics overwhelming opposition.

      • M&S

        The Right is Big Defense and they are staring oncoming light of Sequestration in the eye with both legs broken and prostrate on the train tracks.
        This is why Dempsey and Hagel are very short with the politicians who are leading the charge, it’s a blatant: “You no pay, we no play!” alert as they refuse to commit forces without knowing that the funds they have left in Ops are not going to be used to default on deployments or other program payments for the rest of the year.
        The real issue here is that ‘whoever started it’ Sequestration is being used as a weapon to hurt the U.S. military in a fashion intended to bleed it white so that when ‘The Real Emergency Comes’ (Globalism raises it’s ugly agenda’d head) we will have _nothing_ left to give.
        The only real question is whether or not our political left or right are in on it and thus whether, if they are shown the flaws of their political maneuvering assumptive judgment, they can or will pull back.
        I keep telling everyone that this planet is on a crash course towards NWO and beating down the last independent regimes while depleting the last Super Power of her final reserves of strength is how the end of nationalism is going to be matched to the rise of ‘distant governance’ by supranationalist corporatism.
        THAT is what is wrong here because, even beyond the idiocy of what we are doing to ourselves (Russia has pledged she will not do anything militarily while continuing to supply Syria with arms), nobody ANYWHERE in the M2 has bothered to discuss things like the pipeline projects to supply Europe with LNG from Israel, Qatar and Iran as having a key influence on the multiple players involved. Including the Saudi/U.S. petrodollar hegemony via the Straits of Hormuz.
        If you want to talk about Syria, at least get the motives for ALL the fighters correct, from the start.

        • Mitchell Fuller

          Real reason(s) for strike on Syria. Agree, what are the economic machinations driving involvement in a civil war with no good guys (to put it simply) and has us helping elements of Al Qaeda????

  • Rocky_8_Shoals

    Now that the Russian fleet is sailing into the Med to defend their ally Syria against US “aggression” what does the US do once their SAMs start shooting down our Tomahawk missiles???

  • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

    We need to stay the Hell out of there, we got too much going on now and can’t afford it. A direct attack against us should be the only thing we respond to until we can solve our money woes which we can’t because of our Greed.

  • Mitchell Fuller


    1. This administration is lying to the public. We already have U S boots on in the ground in the form of the CIA, special forces, and government contractors.

    2. Our strike will not occur in a vacumn. Assad regime will defend itself with the help of its patrons Russia, Iran, China, Hezbollah.

    3. What happens if we take casualties = escalation?

    4. Collerateral damage, i.e., killing of civilians is an abstraction until its your wife and or child bleeding out from American shrapnel.

    5. If we need to send a message to Iran re red lines, then let’s deal with them directly and take out their nuclear program.

    6. Alleged chemical attack is a mechanism to get us into a conflict

    • Mitchell Fuller

      6.Alleged chemical attack is a mechanism to get us into a conflict without a publicly defined end game

      7. Rebels as a whole are worse (most effective fighting units are jihadist) then the Assad regime. They have instituted sharia law in areas under their control and if they were to come to power would institute it across the country, along with murdering a lot of minorities, former regime supporters, Christians, and forget about women’s rights……..

  • Don Bacon

    The Pentagon won’t put price tag on Syria strike

    WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will not put a price tag on how much a punitive U.S. strike against Syria might cost, but says it will come up with the money.

    “I wouldn’t be able to offer details on costs at this time,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said at a Thursday briefing. “We don’t know precisely what the military operation would look like, so I can’t give a precise cost estimate.”

    One of the problems is that the potential costs of US naval and other losses aren’t known, and haven’t even been discussed. There should be an intelligence report on the possible retaliations against the US and their estimated costs, human and financial.

    The US is in a sleep-walk on this matter, because heretofore the US has attacked weak, isolated countries where probable retaliation wasn’t a factor. Syria is not in that category.

  • ANON

    SIR/MS: Biomass Supporters need to solicit our Senators and Congress to alter the new “Biomass Thermal Utilization Act (BTU ACT) to include large tax credits ($1.00 per gallon) for gas stations to sell Butanol Gas Blends (24%), Hydrogen Gas (FROM COAL), Bio Deisel, DIESEL (FROM COAL), CNG (Propane & Natural Gas) and installation of related kits for both Cars and
    Trucks. And tax credits for individuals whom get engine conversions to burn Bio
    Diesels and other alternate energy fuels. Likewise, and local state EPA
    supported coal to liquids or gas conversion plants should be Federally EPA
    approved automatically. And the largest Ethanol Plants (production over 20
    million gallons per year) should be given Federal Funding to convert to Butanol
    Production (Cost is $15 Million each). This is needed to make the United States
    energy self sufficient and to give every American some relief from high Fuel
    & Energy costs and costs associated with transportation of goods via truck.
    And why not tie this law to congress/senate approvals of Obama’s Syrian

  • Paunix

    France is only reliable ally – what happened to cheese eating surrender monkeys and freedom fries after they refused to get involved in Afghanistan or Iraq? simply put every other US ally has had their fingers burnt by supporting the US in the middle east. The public in countries like the UK are refusing to be lead into another never ending war in the middle east. Occasionally politicians do listen to their constituents.