Four Big Questions for the President Before the War Vote
Four big areas of concern President Obama has to resolve in his Oval Office address Tuesday night:
One: How much damage will these airstrikes inflict? Are we making a symbolic gesture, just to say we did something, or are we inflicting a punishment truly fitting of a war crime of killing civilians with chemical weapons?
Above: This is a Tomahawk missile. It costs roughly $1.5 million to fire at a target. We ought to make sure that whatever it’s destroying costs at least that much, right?
The Los Angeles Times reports that war plans are being expanded:
The Pentagon is preparing for a longer bombardment of Syria than it originally had planned, with a heavy barrage of missile strikes followed soon after by more attacks on targets that the opening salvos missed or failed to destroy, officials said.
The planning for intense attacks over a three-day period reflects the growing belief in the White House and the Pentagon that the United States needs more firepower to inflict even minimal damage on Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces, which have been widely dispersed over the last two weeks, the officials said.
Two: If Assad retaliates — a likely scenario — are we prepared, and what will our response be to any retaliatory attacks against Americans?
Above: This is a Chinese-made C802 anti-ship missile. Hezbollah used one to hit an Israeli ship in 2006.
PBS: “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told Charlie Rose on Sunday that he is preparing for a U.S. strike, and that Syria and some of their allies would retaliate if one occurs.”
Three: Do we want to topple Assad’s regime or not? If the Islamists in the rebel factions come to power, doesn’t that hurt our interests?
Above: The Al-Nusra Front brags about its executions.
Evidence continues to mount that the Syrian rebels may be as brutal and bloodthirsty as Assad:
After days of clashes in and around Maaloula, rebels captured the village following fierce fighting late Saturday, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group. Observatory director Rami Abdul-Rahman said the assault was led by Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaida-affiliated group, as well as by the Qalamon Liberation Front…
One resident said the rebels — many of them wearing beards and shouting, “God is great!” — attacked Christian homes and churches shortly after seizing the village.
If these reports are true, why wouldn’t we bomb these groups as well? Why would we take action that would ultimately benefit them and help them come to power?
Four: Why does America have to do this alone? If this is so important to the “international community,” why is only France joining us?
Above: This is the French destroyer Chevalier Paul, currently the only non-U.S. ship that would join anti-Assad military operations.
And then again, maybe the French are iffy:
When asked this morning if the U.S. has any pledges of military support for strikes in Syria, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough emphasized that the G20 and other nations have made supportive condemnations of the Syrian government’s actions, but when repeatedly pressed by CNN’s Candy Crowley, he provided no examples of countries that have endorsed or will provide personnel or equipment for a military intervention.
He wouldn’t explicitly admit that the U.S. has no allies willing to provide support, saying, “You’re trying to get me to say that, but I’m not going to say it.” There is specific support from the EU and others, he said, for “holding Syria accountable.”