As Secretary of Defense Hagel points out, the movement of forces toward Syria is so that we have assets in place if the president wants to take some kind of military action against President Assad’s forces in Syria.
But they wouldn’t be ordered to approach unless there was more than a small chance they would be used.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel suggested Friday that the Pentagon was moving naval forces closer to Syria in preparation for a possible decision by President Obama to order military strikes.
Hagel declined to describe any specific movements of U.S. forces. He said Obama asked that the Pentagon to prepare military options for Syria and that some of those options “requires positioning our forces.”
The president’s senior national security advisers are expected to meet at the White House this weekend to discuss possible military options for responding to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, a U.S. official told Fox News Friday.
U.S. defense officials told The Associated Press that the Navy had sent a fourth warship armed with ballistic missiles into the eastern Mediterranean Sea but without immediate orders for any missile launch into Syria.
U.S. Navy ships are capable of a variety of military action, including launching Tomahawk cruise missiles, as they did against Libya in 2011 as part of an international action that led to the overthrow of the Libyan government.
“The Defense Department has a responsibility to provide the president with options for contingencies, and that requires positioning our forces, positioning our assets, to be able to carry out different options — whatever options the president might choose,” Hagel said.
He said the U.S. is coordinating with the international community to determine “what exactly did happen” in the reported use by the Syrian government of chemical weapons against civilians earlier this week.
“We’re still assessing that,” he said.
Hagel said a determination on the chemical attack should be made swiftly because “there may be another attack coming,” although he added that “we don’t know” whether that will happen.
Hagel said that although he is scheduled to spend the next week traveling in Southeast Asia, he will remain in contact with the White House about developments in Syria and planning for potential U.S. action.
It’s not that there’s a lack of targets. Perhaps before we go blundering into another war, we should consider just whose side we’re supporting. We could draw up a target list for all sides, put a blindfold on, and throw darts to determine where we strike. While we’re weakening Assad, it might not be a bad idea to toss a few cruise missiles al-Qaeda’s way. And what of the jihadis from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the Gulf states? Do we really want to empower them by taking out their enemy?
The idea that we’re protecting civilians by going after Assad is only partly correct. Those same civilians will be under the guns of al-Qaeda and the radical jihadis once Assad is gone. At that point, they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the oppression of Assad and the murderous intentions of the terrorists.
A good argument for non-intervention in any case.