While hawks and profiteers within and without the U.S. military favor bombing Syria and just about any other military action one might propose, many are resisting. They include the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and numerous officials risking Edward Snowden / Chelsea Manning treatment by talking to the Washington Post, and others to the New York Times. The military does not clearly understand its new proposed role as punisher of a crime that it itself regularly commits, and it does not share in Obama's claimed confidence that a limited action will remain limited.
THE CONGRESS PROBLEM
House Speaker John Boehner asked President Obama these as-yet-mostly-unanswered questions:
- What standard did the Administration use to determine that this scope of chemical weapons use warrants potential military action?
- Does the Administration consider such a response to be precedent-setting, should further humanitarian atrocities occur?
- What result is the Administration seeking from its response?
- What is the intended effect of the potential military strikes?
- If potential strikes do not have the intended effect, will further strikes be conducted?
- Would the sole purpose of a potential strike be to send a warning to the Assad regime about the use of chemical weapons? Or would a potential strike be intended to help shift the security momentum away from the regime and toward the opposition?
In fact, the White House has been clear that it has no intention to shift momentum in the war.
- If it remains unclear whether the strikes compel the Assad regime to renounce and stop the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people, or if President Assad escalates their usage, will the Administration contemplate escalatory military action?
- Will your Administration conduct strikes if chemical weapons are utilized on a smaller scale?
- Would you consider using the United States military to respond to situations or scenarios that do not directly involve the use or transfer of chemical weapons?
- Assuming the targets of potential military strikes are restricted to the Assad inner circle and military leadership, does the Administration have contingency plans in case the strikes disrupt or throw into confusion the command and control of the regime's weapons stocks?