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The Two-Way
12:22 pm
Fri August 30, 2013

What's Next In Syria? A Sampling Of Opinion

Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 2:36 pm

As a U.S. military strike on Syria looks increasingly likely in the next few hours or days, various publications are weighing in on what such an attack would accomplish and what would happen next.

Here's a sampling of opinion:

The BBC's Tara McKelvey says:

"The US military would most likely use Tomahawk cruise missiles for an attack on the Syrian government forces. These missiles are now stored on destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean.

"The missiles would not be fired at places where chemical weapons might be stored, since poisonous gas could spread or chemical agents could fall into the wrong hands.

"Instead, military facilities would be targeted — radio centres, command posts and missile launchers, says Douglas Ollivant, who served as an operations officer with the Army's Fifth Cavalry Regiment in Iraq.

"The initial military operation would be fast."

NBC's Richard Engel outlines several options, with the one of "doing nothing" seeming increasingly unlikely, the other two are

The 'do little option' of "launching a symbolic strike, destroying a few arms depots and runways" that is accompanied by "strident warnings" from American officials saying "that if chemical weapons were ever used again, there would be greater punishment next time."

The 'do a little more' option: "Rebels would certainly be encouraged by strong U.S. military strikes, especially if they carry on through two to three days. The strikes could help the rebels advance."

"But they could also create a false optimism, a belief that the regime is collapsing when in fact it is not."

Or the 'do a lot' option of attacking military targets in Syria "in a major way" – an option that seems to be predicated on the type of international cooperation that seems to be lacking after the British Parliament rejected London.

Stephen M. Walt, writing for Foreign Policy, says:

"It's still not clear what positive objectives a limited use of force would accomplish. It won't tip the balance inside Syria or drive Bashar al-Assad from power. It's not even clear that punitive strikes would do much to reinforce the norm against chemical weapons use, as any leader contemplating the use of these weapons in the future is probably going to be in pretty dire straits and might not care if some foreign power might retaliate. Moreover, the American people are clearly not interested in getting into this war, and Obama and the Dems could pay a big price if retaliation goes awry in any way."

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