U.S. military officers have deep doubts about impact, wisdom of a U.S. strike on Syria

The Washington Post reports: The Obama administration’s plan to launch a military strike against Syria is being received with serious reservations by many in the U.S. military, which is coping with the scars of two lengthy wars and a rapidly contracting budget, according to current and former officers.

Having assumed for months that the United States was unlikely to intervene militarily in Syria, the Defense Department has been thrust onto a war footing that has made many in the armed services uneasy, according to interviews with more than a dozen military officers ranging from captains to a four-star general.

Former and current officers, many with the painful lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan on their minds, said the main reservations concern the potential unintended consequences of launching cruise missiles against Syria.

Some questioned the use of military force as a punitive measure and suggested that the White House lacks a coherent strategy. If the administration is ambivalent about the wisdom of defeating or crippling the Syrian leader, possibly setting the stage for Damascus to fall to fundamentalist rebels, they said, the military objective of strikes on Assad’s military targets is at best ambiguous.

“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 [Bashar al-Assad] were 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. [Continue reading…]

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3 thoughts on “U.S. military officers have deep doubts about impact, wisdom of a U.S. strike on Syria

  1. BillVZ

    Watching Kerry’s speech today; while it lacked the visuals of Colin Powell’s similar sales pitch at the U.N. it was enough to put him ahead of Powell in my most worst political whopper spinner in an administration’s tool box ever.

    The Obama administration has “high confidence” that Syria used chemical weapons to kill civilians based on a dossier of evidence, Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Friday. The evidence is indisputable- the Intelligence community has made it clear through the long “we know list of propaganda facts” that he babbled on – all of which are to “shock the conscience of the world” and for U.S. public consumption.

    “John Kerry was boasting about?
    “While we express our anguish at the hideous gassing in Syria, the land of Palestine continues to be gobbled up.” Israel’s Likudist policy – to negotiate for peace until there is no Palestine left – continues apace, which is why King Abdullah of Jordan’s nightmare (a much more potent one than the “weapons of mass destruction” we dreamed up in 2003) grows larger: that “Palestine” will be in Jordan, not in Palestine. Robert Fisk

    Indeed-Iran, chemical weapons in Syria, Snowden new revelations, all more ‘tunes’ to hum to deflect from attending to any solution to the Palestinian issue.

  2. hquain

    What we’re actually witnessing, I fear, is the public collapse of the authority of the Obama Administration, both internal and external.

    Smacked down by the Brits, without whom the Iraq debacle couldn’t have gone forward, embraced only by the transparently opportunistic French, checkmated by Egypt (see Juan Cole’s 8/31 post), its military plans viewed with increasing distaste by huge swaths of the US population, including the military, and despite all this, gearing up to do something utterly feckless, Team O seems to be bent on single-handedly divesting itself of any credibility it ever had.

    There’s a temptation to crow at the defeat of horrible policies, but full-scale disintegration — especially in today’s political desert — is another matter. It is not nor it cannot come to good.

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