9/04/2013

Military can't explain what the administration hopes to accomplish in Syria

The Obama administration might have been literally days away from attacking Syria last week, but the apparently the president hasn't thought it was necessary to explain to the military what exactly he wanted to accomplish.
DEMPSEY: The answer to whether I support additional support for the moderate opposition is yes. 
CORKER: And this authorization will support those activities in addition to responding to the weapons of mass destruction. 
DEMPSEY: I don’t know how the resolution will evolve, but I support – 
CORKER: What you’re seeking. What is it you’re seeking? 
DEMPSEY: I can’t answer that, what we’re seeking.
Here is one of the many news stories from last week.
The U.S. could hit Syria with three days of missile strikes, perhaps beginning Thursday, in an attack meant more to send a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad than to topple him or cripple his military, senior U.S. officials told NBC News on Tuesday. 
The State Department fed the growing drumbeat around the world for a military response to Syria's suspected use of chemical weapons against rebels Aug. 21 near Damascus, saying that while the U.S. intelligence community would release a formal assessment within the week, it was already "crystal clear" that Assad's government was responsible. 
Vice President Joe Biden went even further, bluntly telling an American Legion audience in Houston: "Chemical weapons have been used." . . . 
I found this article about the leaks and the motives behind them at Politico of interest.
Many of the leaks about U.S. strike plans for Syria, a copious flow of surprisingly specific information on ship dispositions and possible targets, have been authorized as a way for President Obama to signal the limited scope of operations to friends and foes. 
But a number of leaks have been decidedly unauthorized -- and, according to Obama administration sources, likely emanating from a Pentagon bureaucracy less enthusiastic about the prospect of an attack than, say, the State Department, National Security Council or Obama himself. . . . 
Recently retired CENTCOM commander James Mattis had this to say about the undefined mission:
Mattis said the U.S. also needs to define what "end state" it is seeking in Syria, if further action is to be taken. "Otherwise, you invade a country and pull down a statue and then say: 'Now, what do we do?'….Know what I mean?" he said, in an obvious reference to the chaotic aftermath of the U.S. toppling of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. . . . 

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