Obama's Syrian mission creep?

Senator John McCain accompanied by Senator Lindsey Graham speaks with reporters outside the White House in Washington 2 September 2013 Senator John McCain (left) has called for US intervention in Syria for months

In a heated phone call between Secretary of State John Kerry and Democratic members of Congress, one of them warned that the administration had "collective amnesia" about the lessons of Vietnam.

In Vietnam what started with the US backing one side and sending in a few military advisers ended up in a long bloody war.

This is not the same. Lessons have been learnt. Every American politician from Mr Obama down is very clear that there will be "no boots on the ground" in Syria.

But it already seems Mr Obama is changing his strategy, deepening his commitment, because of his decision to call a vote in Congress.

Republican Senator John McCain emerged from the White House, if not convinced, then on the way to being satisfied.

His argument has always been that "pinprick" strikes were pointless symbolism - Mr Assad had to be weakened.

He suggested Mr Obama had given hints that the plan was more serious, that it would degrade Mr Assad's ability to fight, and beef up the rebels. Not Mr Obama's shot across the bows, but sustained fire into the ship itself, leaving it crippled.

Today's hearing in the Senate will be critical - a chance for Mr Kerry, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey to put more flesh on the bones, and explain what they want to achieve in Syria.

But it would be ironic if Mr Obama's decision to get congressional backing forced him further down the road to war than he thought was wise last week.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    Is the topic of "loss of human life" ever discussed and figures released when deciding on these acts of War? How many Syrians will loss their lives during a 60 day campaign? We know >100,000 lives lost to date. A break down of combatant & civilian can be found on Wiki.
    Here is a graph showing Civilian deaths in Iraq http://www.iraqbodycount.org/database/ Is this what the future holds in Syria?

  • rate this

    Comment number 306.


    You have the option to have opinions

    but ones fueled by bigotry????..

    these will take you far into irrelevance, enjoy!

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    The USA has decided to allow "boots on the ground" in Syria for non combat roles. Is Russia ok with that idea?
    Will Putin or China stand by quietly and let the US make fools of them as Obama places American soldiers in military roles on the ground inside Syria. Is the world ok with the idea of America once again bringing about regime change in another country?

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    Syria is suspected of using chemical weapons, manufactured &supplied through Russia via Iran.Syria is suspected of using Chemical weapons on its people in the process of eliminating Rebels and killed & wounded innocent civilians.Syria has to be severely punished only if evidence proven is correct.USA & West have to take this war of Limited Strike and effectively wipe out chemical Arsenal of Syria.

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    The only thing that's creepy here is this journalist's attempt to characterise President Obama, again.. Some truths are self evident. Read prior articles, google Mardell and Obama.

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    Those nations that follow the Israeli driven US government into the furnace of middle-east wars are fools. If it were just good vs. evil as the US pretends it to be then the US would have supported the Syrian rebels at an early stage when they were still entirely native sans foreign Jihadists. 100,000 killed & 2 million refugees did not stir the american imagination. Iran is the real target.

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    MagicKirin is known for being far right and ancient

    One can ignore politely w/o insults

    I think his opinions are not instantly disposable and

    This group Could learn Something--how to listen and reference w/o using alienation tactics???:)))))))))))

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    um we are wedded to Japan, China--US unpopular in result

    We are friends with most famous imperialists of history--suspicious

    And in a anti-/jewish world WE support Israel--

    And finally we routinely tend in our IMperfect ways to prevail..causing teeth destruction in EU + UK by by knashing

    joy joy happy happy nation

    nation delighting in making harpiensfrom well meant commenters

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    Have I got this wrong, or did our high-principled president accept the Nobel Peace Prize?

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    Yes mission creep but not in Syria. In John Kerry's testimony before Congressional committee today he talked about not letting "other dictators" gain chemical weapons and (raising his finger) "nuclear weapons". Clearly not North Korea that already has an A-bomb and over which the US will not bomb NK. It was a allusion to Iran. Obama wants a precedent set in Syria so he can ultimately bomb Iran.

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    The only mission creep going right now on is the movement of Syrian military hardware, under the shield of darkness and the silent watchful eye of a satellite.
    The mission creep of the future may well depend on the reaction of Iran.
    Another mission creep is if Assad fights to the end and loses. Who will protect the innocent civilians who backed Assad?

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    10 years wars
    Since 911 America has fought Al Qaeda and Taliban in Afghanistan
    Fought Iraq for unfounded WMD replacing Saddam
    Involved in overthrowing Ghadaffi in Libya
    Now wants to help Al Qaeda in Syria
    (possibly helping Israel against Iran)

    From this we can conclude

    US love wars
    loves selling weapons

    laws against citizens

    Don't care about winning provided wars businesses drag on

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    A focused military strike against designated targets will lift the eyebrows of the enemy and the foolish. Since the future is not carved in stone, it leaves us all apprehensive of the actions of the enemy and the foolish.
    This does not strike fear into me, as we have seen before, the enemy has always become the foolish. This is as much about Iran as it is Syria.

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    @243 Rideforever
    Rt news? seriously?
    What a load of cheap bunk. The content doesn't even come close to reality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    ColadadelCid @289
    "Syria… will respond"?
    Or Russia???

    And 'maybe' policing the back-streets should not fall to the innocent children of the casino-boss who himself goes home by the safe highway. Like other police the world over, courage is summoned, loved-ones put at risk of bereavement. The once equally innocent thugs of the rival casino are confronted, though they threaten hell. Or not?

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    @232 Magic Kirin

    You obviously have blightly chosen to ignore the UN Human Rights Council report that was released this summer that condemned Israel for torturing Palestinian children and using those children as human shields in front of Israeli tanks and armoured vehicles. The report was intentionally ignored by the Obama White House and the pro-Israel lackey US news media.

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    255 David

    "You are right to highlight the anti-Semitic streak running through some of the posts"

    Godwin's law states:

    "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches"

    I think we can add:
    Accusations of anti-semitism are guaranteed

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    16 Will
    ...that's Will Hague, right? Can't be another Will that stupid

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    The american people are wary and not for this in their majority. Obama is for specific and limited strikes. This is predicated on the dangerous assumption that neither Syria nor any other country in the region will respond. It won't be 'mission creep' it will be full escalation. Bombing another country is called war not 'punishment'. Obama is not within international law by the UN charter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    232 Magic

    "Israel has never lost a fight where the enemy doesn't hide behind woman and children"

    And the enemies were? Neighbouring Arab countries who didn't have the luxury of Uncle Sam supplying them with weapons or holding their hands


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