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Wed Aug 28, 2013, 11:28 AM

White House Syria Deliberations: 'Do Less' Camp is Still Winning

White House Syria Deliberations: 'Do Less' Camp is Still Winning
BY JULIA IOFFE

That said, this is what we do know. As always, the administration is split on action in Syria, and on what, if anything, should be done. General Martin Dempsey is largely against intervention. Samantha Power, U.N. Ambassador and author of A Problem from Hell, a scathing attack on powers that sit by in the face of slaughter, wants to do something. Looking at the roster of the fifteen people at the President's meeting to discuss the Syria crisis, they split roughly in two: the do more camp, and the do less camp. "People have been pretty stable in their positions," said a source familiar with the situation. "I don’t think anyone has changed their position."

The lone exception was Kerry, who had pushed for action on Libya, but has been hesitant on Syria: he has been gunning for that peace conference in Geneva. Today, he was likely trotted out to give the President some cover as the U.N. inspectors finish their work—and get the hell out of Syria before the fireworks start.

By Monday evening, the policy was still very much up in the air, but the "do less" camp seemed to be winning, probably because of Obama's notorious reluctance on such things. The outlines of what the Obama administration is likely to do was starting to take shape: the U.S. would likely act, but it would act mostly to impose a sense of consequence, stopping short of doing something obviously designed to shift the balance inside Syria between Assad and the motley rebel crew. Envisioned thus, U.S. military action would probably target things like the headquarters of airforce intelligence or other targets associated with the distribution of chemical weapons, but would probably spare Assad's deadly air force. That is, it would do enough damage to show the world that Obama's word is bond, that a red line—however accidentally drawn, however tardily noticed—is a red line, but would stop short of weakening Assad enough to let some increasingly shady people topple him. Retaliating for chemical weapons use, says one administration official, "would not be because of a desire to intervene in Syria, but to prevent future chemical weapons use."

snip

Ultimately, whatever the White House decides—and it will do so painstakingly, almost theatrically so, to demonstrate that, unlike its predecessors, it has not rushed heedless into another Mulsim war—it is likely to be limited and surgically precise in its message to Assad: you can go on killing people in your murky civil war, just not with chemical weapons, well, not on a large scale.

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114474/white-house-syria-deliberations-do-less-camp-still-winning


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Response to KittyWampus (Original post)

Wed Aug 28, 2013, 11:38 AM

1. I'm opposed to intervention

but if the intent is to give Assad a bloody nose, then back off, I can live with it.

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Response to pscot (Reply #1)

Wed Aug 28, 2013, 11:41 AM

2. giving Assad himself a bloody nose is one thing; it's the collateral damage I object to.

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Response to magical thyme (Reply #2)

Wed Aug 28, 2013, 11:45 AM

3. I'm sure innocents are being moved to strategic targets in the meantime

This is how Presidents age.

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Response to BeyondGeography (Reply #3)

Wed Aug 28, 2013, 12:08 PM

7. then perhaps the administration shoujld have leaked a set of false targets

and bomb some other, emptier spot.

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Response to KittyWampus (Original post)

Wed Aug 28, 2013, 11:56 AM

4. As I was reading this got this in my Twitter timeline from people who claim to have ...

... family back in Syria:

Speaking with family back home, they seem quite unconcerned about possible western strike. "What's gonna happen that hasn't happen already?


Family in Damascus hopes that strike against Assad would speed his departure. Keep in mind destruction is nothing new to them


I guess those folks in the second tweet are going to be a bit disappointed if this story is accurate.

Also, persistent, steady stream of tweets re artillery being moved into residential neighborhoods and prisoners being moved to potential targets. I expect to see a flood of threads here when the strikes start with nice, graphic images of "collateral damage". Oh joy.

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Response to Benton D Struckcheon (Reply #4)

Wed Aug 28, 2013, 11:58 AM

5. Well, there's the pressure to allow UN Inspectors to finish. But you are absolutely correct

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Response to KittyWampus (Original post)

Wed Aug 28, 2013, 11:58 AM

6. Remember when uber hawk Samantha Powers called Hillary Clinton a monster and war

monger? And how some Democrats said 'see, she's a monster and Obama is a peace maker who'd end all the wars!!!!!'

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Response to KittyWampus (Original post)

Wed Aug 28, 2013, 12:14 PM

8. I sincerly hope the do less people win this one and the

lessened learned should be " do not draw red lines,ever".

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