The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

August 28, 2013

Sentator calls on President to explain objectives in Syria

ALLENTOWN — U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., today called on President Barack Obama to explain his position on Syria.

“It appears to be an established fact that Assad has used chemical weapons repeatedly in an indiscriminate slaughter of his own civilians,” Toomey said today.

“These weapons and his behavior pose a national security risk to the U.S. This calls for an American response, being mindful to avoid a long-term military engagement in the Syrian civil war. The President must explain to Congress and the American people the objectives and risks of any action.”

Questions are swirling about the endgame as the Obama administration prepares for a likely strike against Syria as punishment for an alleged chemical weapons attack in its civil war.

National security experts and some U.S. officials question whether a limited strike can have any lasting impact on Syrian President Bashar Assad, or whether it will simply harden Assad’s resolve. And it’s not clear how much the military operation could help the beleaguered and splintered Syrian opposition, or lessen concerns that hard-line rebels may not support America if they do seize control of the country.

A limited, short-term operation, however, may be a compromise between military leaders, who have warned against entering a civil war, and a White House determined to show that President Barack Obama meant it when he said last year that the use of chemical weapons would cross a red line.

The broader objective is to damage the Syrian government’s military and weapons enough to make it difficult to conduct more chemical weapons attacks, and to make Assad think twice about using chemical weapons again.

Senior national security leaders met again at the White House on Tuesday as the administration moved closer to an almost certain attack on Syria in the coming days. The most likely military action would be to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles off U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea. The Navy last week moved a fourth destroyer into the eastern Mediterranean and it is expected that the British would also participate in an attack.

The looming military action has spurred debate over what the administration hopes to gain and whether a limited military campaign — either several hours or a couple of days — could do much to further the overall goal of ousting Assad from power or moving Syria toward a more democratic government. The administration says it isn’t aiming that high in whatever action unfolds.

 

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