U.S. plans to inch up role in Syria

n13-iconHoward Fineman reports: Kiev is burning, but Damascus, Homs and Aleppo are dying.

There’s little the U.S. can do about Ukraine — it’s literally Russia’s backyard. But the Obama administration is working quietly on a plan to inch up America’s role in dealing with the disaster that is Syria.

Wary of getting trapped in another war in another Muslim country, administration officials and President Barack Obama himself are moving cautiously ahead on a plan to augment and protect humanitarian aid to the millions of “internally displaced” and often starving citizens of Bashar al-Assad’s brutal regime.

At one White House meeting recently, the idea of using military resources to assure the flow of humanitarian aid was described as “the least-bad option,” according notes given to an official in a cabinet agency that would be involved in carrying out the proposal.

One option — quickly dismissed –- called for using American airpower to help secure land routes into Syria. It was deemed too risky and too unpalatable to Pentagon brass.

According to high-ranking administration officials, the plan at this point calls for the U.S. to use land-based military assets in Turkey and Jordan, and perhaps Navy ships in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf, as staging areas to facilitate the flow of food and medicine.

“We’d stay on the other side of the border,” one official told The Huffington Post, meaning that U.S. soldiers and airmen would not enter or fly over Syria. [Continue reading…]

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