Monday, August 26, 2013

Syria - what next?

Update- The sniper attack against the UN will only increase the likelihood of an American strike.

It's very likely that the US will take some form of military action against Assad. 

Although Congress is divided over the prospective character of any 'response', as the NYTimes notes, the White House has shifted its tone to a more aggressive stance. I expect that this represents deliberate political messaging designed to prepare the waters for action. President Obama has spent the weekend speaking with his national security team and top allies. The US Navy is staging assets in the Mediterranean Sea. At present, the US has four/five missile destroyers and probably one SSGN positioned in the Sixth Fleet AO. Within one week, the US could also have the USS George HW Bush, USS Harry S Truman and USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Groups in position to launch direct air sorties (without overflying other states) against Syrian government targets. These capabilities represent a formidable array of firepower.

On the diplomatic front, the UK and France are especially anxious that some kind of response be mounted. Prime Minister Cameron has been putting increasing pressure on Obama to take action. Regardless, due to the fact that the Europeans like to play it cheap on defense, they're highly unlikely to use force without US participation. So... over the next couple of days we should expect increasingly frenetic action at the UN. The Iranians are also likely to increase their threats of counter-retaliation should the west take action. The Russians... they'll probably just continue to blame the rebels.

As I argued on Friday, the President should take robust action against Assad's regime and his enabling allies.

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