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by
Bryan Preston

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August 30, 2013 - 8:02 am

Count former and current military officers among those who are skeptical of a strike on Syria.

“There’s a broad naivete in the political class about America’s obligations in foreign policy issues, and scary simplicity about the effects that employing American military power can achieve,” said retired Lt. Gen. Gregory S. Newbold, who served as director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the run-up to the Iraq war, noting that many of his contemporaries are alarmed by the plan.

Marine Lt. Col. Gordon Miller, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, warned this week of “potentially devastating consequences, including a fresh round of chemical weapons attacks and a military response by Israel.”

“If President Asadwere to absorb the strikes and use chemical weapons again, this would be a significant blow to the United States’ credibility and it would be compelled to escalate the assault on Syria to achieve the original objectives,” Miller wrote in a commentary for the think tank.

Still, many in the military are skeptical. Getting drawn into the Syrian war, they fear, could distract the Pentagon in the midst of a vexing mission: its exit from Afghanistan, where U.S. troops are still being killed regularly. A young Army officer who is wrapping up a year-long tour there said soldiers were surprised to learn about the looming strike, calling the prospect “very dangerous.”

“I can’t believe the president is even considering it,” said the officer, who like most officers interviewed for this story agreed to speak only on the condition of anonymity because military personnel are reluctant to criticize policymakers while military campaigns are being planned. “We have been fighting the last 10 years a counterinsurgency war. Syria has modern weaponry. We would have to retrain for a conventional war.”

The “just muscular enough not to be mocked” strike is extremely unlikely to achieve any US foreign policy goal. And that’s supposing that it is undertaken with any real goal in mind. At the moment, no strategic goal is apparent other than re-establishing the “red line,” somehow.

US forces won’t be striking with the aim of killing Assad or toppling his regime. They won’t be striking his actual chemical weapons depots, out of fear that the introduction of high explosives would just spread the poisons among the population and even outside Syria’s borders. So we’re left with striking to “punish” Assad, but he will survive the punishment because he is not a target. He will then claim to have “defeated” the United States. If he is feeling especially defiant he will display some dead mothers and children and accuse us of killing them. As Lt. Col. Miller points out, Assad’s survival and propaganda victory could lead to an escalation on our part to “punish” Assad even more. But without killing him.

Assad is in a fight for his own survival. He knows as well as anyone that what happened to Gaddafi will happen to him if he loses the war. There is not much we can do to alter the behavior of a brute whose back is against the wall. If we punish him too little, we look weak. If we punish him too much, we may end up swapping his brand of despotism out for al Qaeda’s. The enemy of our enemy is still our enemy in Syria.

Additionally, President Obama has managed to isolate himself from Congress so far, and is certainly isolated from the allies at this point. The British aren’t coming. The Germans and French are backing away. How is it that the United States, not Syria, stands alone on this?

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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Top Rated Comments   
All becomes clear if we think that THE goal of this administration is to weaken America.

50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (7)
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People don’t ever imply that the Kenyan Kid is anything but ignorant - our president is stupid in the ways of the world and even ‘stupider’ in the ways of war!
And look at who he props up in positions of intricate advisory rolls - both the Secretary of State - and the Secretary of Defense are losers and yet they are there to advise ‘the king’!
He did rid the pool of Mrs. Clinton - and well he should have - the woman lies a lot and seems able to breakdown when caught in a misleading moment - like the Kosovo ‘attempted targeting’ of herself and again when her composer slipped - as she was pressed about the murders in Benghazi.
I mean outlining your points of attack on national television and then trying to work out a political trip to accommodate the timing of any possible strike - not a very strong leadership roll!
How about canceling the European Summit - (most of the people in attendance think you are a jerk anyway) - quietly arrange your offensive credits in positions of maximum destructive application.
Smash into Syria - destroy the air force - command and control facilities - wipe out his military leaders - find the man where ever he is - and kill him - arrest his family and turn them over to the Red Crescent.
Also Mr. Liar In Chief - you can thank Britain for their interest and remind them that when they need any assistance at all - in the Island group off of Argentina - we will be on vacation in the Seychelles !
Oh - And how about quitting your job?
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Russians would dearly love to give the U.S. naval forces a bloody nose, and make no mistake, their advisers will be in Syria. America is so used to not losing planes or ships in conflict that the loss of even a frigate will force the U.S. to either escalate or draw off in embarrassment.

For those who hate Obama, you dearly want him to do this, cuz it will not end well this time. I think we're nuts for even thinking about doing what would in effect be a declaration of war against Syria, a more potent anti-aircraft foe than either Iraq or Libya, and with an outside chance to reach our ships in the Med or even Cypress, where Syria would dearly love to "accidentally" hit Turkish installations or naval vessels and blame it on the U.S.'s using Cypress.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
I do not hate Obama altho I do think he is the worst president since Buchanan. And as I have made clear on my own blog long before now, I absolutely do not want him to do this.

Obama has basically said that he just wants to slap Assad's hand. We will be making war against Assad most definitely, but in Obama's minf in a very limited, restrained way.

What Obama does not understand is that there is no reason for Assad to return the favor. Bombs will be dropping on his country. Why should he feel any restraint at all in responding or planning a response? Why should he think that just because we have stopped bombing that he will also agree the US-Syria War is over.

A war is ended only when BOTH sides say so. We are giving Assad no reason to say so. We are about to sow the wind and will only reap the whirlwind.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Russians could most certainly give our navy a bloody nose. It's the Chinese and their thousands of anti-ship missiles that will 'make our day.'

50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
All becomes clear if we think that THE goal of this administration is to weaken America.

50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Well, it's been the MO for " liberals " as long as I can remember.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, and there are STILL idiots out there saying that Obama is incompetent or stupid.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
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