Today Secretary of State John Kerry inadvertently answered the first of the four questions below: 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?
We will be able to hold [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad accountable without engaging troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort, in a very limited, very targeted, very short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria’s civil war. That is exactly what we are talking about doing; an unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.
How much can you degrade . . .
- 3 storage depots
- 5 “scientific research centers” believed to be involved in chemical weapons production
- 23 military air bases, including some connected to international airports
- 2 dual-use sites believed to be involved in chemical-weapons production
- allegedly 1,000 tons of material at the above sites
- a few dozen SS-21 ballistic missiles with a maximum range of 72 miles, with mobile launchers
- 200 Scud-Bs, with a maximum range of 180 miles, with mobile launchers
- 60 to 120 Scud-Cs, with a maximum range of 300 miles, with mobile launchers
- 700 to 900 fixed-wing aircraft (figure dates to before civil war)
- 175 to 215 helicopters (figure dates to before civil war)
. . . with an “unbelievably small” effort?