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, North America editor Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell North America editor

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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.


Comments 5 of 307



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