All the latest leaks seem to be pointing to the same scenario: Obama would order ‘limited’ strikes on ‘key’ targets to ‘send a message’ to Assad. Ok, let’s look into that.
First, this probably means that cruise missiles will be used, but little or no air strikes. We will come back later to this one.
Second, what are ‘limited’ strikes. We are talking about high visibility static targets such as security services headquarters, divisional headquarters, airbases, possibly even Ministries or even Presidential buildings (though the latter is less likely because that could signal that the Anglos are trying to murder Assad).
Third, most experts seem to agree that we are talking roughly 50 targets each hit by 4-5 cruise missiles over a period of 2-3 days.
Now, let’s make a thought experiment: you are Assad, sitting somewhere in a well protected bunker and you see the Anglos executing the plan above. What ‘message’ do you get from this?
If I was Assad the first message I would get from such an attack is that the Anglos are afraid of really weighing in and meaningfully influence the military balance on the ground. If the Anglos were serious, they would begin by taking out the entire Syrian Air Force and Air Defense capability, followed by a comprehensive destruction of all communication nodes (including all key government buildings), followed by a sustained campaign to strike at the entire logistic and supply network of the Syrian military combined with a close air support campaign in support of the insurgency operation. It would also require establishing air supremacy over Syria and have the means ready to rescue any downed airmen or special operation forces by helicopter extraction operations. That kind of plan would require at least one full month of intense air and missile strikes. But since that is not what the Anglos will do, I would conclude that they are afraid of doing it. This is also why they are using a few or no aircraft.
Personally, that would embolden me.
Furthermore, since my side is willing to unconditionally go to Geneva II while the insurgency is not, what does that tell me about the Anglo operation? Since they are clearly not trying to force me to go to the negotiation table, what message are they sending the insurgents? Might it be: “guys, there is only that much we are willing to do, we tried, but now you are on your own“? If you were at the head of the insurgency, would you not feel rather discouraged by this kind of Anglo intervention?
Personally, I very much hope that Obama will go for that “sissy option”, as it would send all the wrong messages from the Anglo point of view and all the right ones from mine.
There are a lot of very competent military specialists at the Pentagon and they all understand that. This is probably why rumor has it that they – and even Hagel – are opposed to this kind of nonsense. The problem is that even this “sissy option” has a huge escalatory potential with possible Syrian missile strikes on Israel and US bases in the region. Iran and Hezbollah could and, really, should respond by sending in more fighters into Syria. Of course, all the other more meaningful options are even more dangerous. Still, how do you de-escalate the “sissy option”?! That is very unclear, to say the least.
Obama is playing with fire here and he should declare that since the UNSC did not authorize any actions and since no convincing proof has been presented, the USA will abstain from any action right now. Alas, history shows that US Democrats – just as their Labor counterparts in Israel – are far more dangerous and reckless than the so-called “conservatives” (which they ain’t, of course). Remember Lebanon in 2006, remember the faces of Olmert, Peretz and the rest of the pathetic losers in Israel. Don’t they remind you of Obama?