Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Translation: Obama will hit back — but probably not with the intent of delivering a knockout blow to Assad"

"... “The Rices and the Powers of the world realize they’re not really working for a humanitarian intervener,” O’Hanlon said. “We have a president who is fatigued by these operations, who senses that the country is fatigued by them, who would rather not do much with them and has probably overcorrected.”
But chemical weapons appear to have changed Obama’s calibration, if not his calculus..., ...
White House press secretary Jay Carney suggested Monday that any American use of force against Assad would be “a response to the clear violation of an international norm” rather than a broader effort to oust him. The revelation laid bare the lengths to which Obama will go to avoid appearing to tip the scales in Syria: U.S. policy is to aid Assad’s enemies and punish him for the chemical attack, but not drive him from power.
Translation: Obama will hit back — but probably not with the intent of delivering a knockout blow to Assad.
“What we are evaluating is a response to the clear use on a mass scale, with repugnant results, of chemical weapons,” Carney said, carefully differentiating between past reports of more limited use of chemical weapons. That could give Obama room to argue both that this use of chemical weapons was sufficiently bad enough to justify U.S. force, and that future chemical-weapons attacks don’t cross that line.
“The president is profoundly averse to getting involved in another Middle Eastern conflict,” said a former senior administration official. “He has resisted argument after argument going back quite a number of months now from the Defense Department, State Department, CIA. Nothing has swayed him.”
O’Hanlon says it will take a much more committed intervention, including some ground troops, for the United States to help establish and maintain a negotiated settlement in Syria.
Limited military involvement isn’t going to produce an outcome,” he said."

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