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Minnesota delegation on Syria-attack plan: The more they hear, the less they like

Sen. Al Franken
REUTERSSen. Al Franken

Obama’s message Tuesday night was not a new one: He said the United States has both moral and strategic incentives to discourage chemical weapons attacks, starting with Syria, and that if Americans could only see the results of such an attack, they’d back intervening, too. He looked to assure viewers he was keeping the United States off the “slippery slope to another war,” and said any military action in Syria would be a “limited strike” focused on “deterring the use of chemical weapons, and degrading [President Bashar] Assad’s capabilities” to use them.

Obama had yet to take that message directly to public, but lawmakers have heard some variation of it every day since he said they’d have a vote a Syria attack.

Rep. John Kline
MinnPost file photo by Craig LassigRep. John Kline

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by David Frenkel on 09/11/2013 - 01:21 pm.


    I wish Bachmann would just retire early, she has no grip on national security even being on the House Intelligence committee. Putin, at least in press accounts, has never hinted or mentioned removing Assad from office. Syria and Russia are allies, most of the CW in Syria came from Russia.
    They are trade partners and Russia has an economic reason to keep the current government in power in Syria.
    There also have not at least publicly been any discussion what would be the possible targets of a US strike. Are politicians blindly saying yest to strikes and giving that responsibility to the military to figure out?

    • Submitted by Lance Groth on 09/11/2013 - 07:01 pm.

      Yes, but

      I agree with the thrust of your comment, particularly re Bachmann, however in the interest of being reasonable:

      No one to my knowledge, except McCain, has ever suggested that regime change would be the objective of a strike. Obama has been pretty clear that the objectives would be to punish the Assad regime for use of CW, and to degrade his ability to use them. The Senate, at the urging of McCain and others, inserted language to expand the scope to include supporting the rebels and changing the momentum of the civil war, and Obama indicated he would accept that (or have no chance of winning the vote) – mission creep before the mission even begins – but the president himself has spoken only of a more narrow mission. Assad stays regardless, as far as I can tell.

      As to targets, you don’t really expect them to publish the list of targets, do you? You don’t broadcast your attack plan to your enemy, that would simply be foolish. Many members of Congress have attended intelligence briefings – how do you know they weren’t given more information than the public? Since the stated mission is to degrade Syria’s ability to use CW, and to give them disincentive to even want to try, we can assume that the targets would be CW production & storage facilities, and the munitions used to deliver them. Possibly also intelligence and command & control facilities. Air defenses as a matter of practicality if we send any aircraft other than cruise missiles. But we’re not going to get more specific information than that, nor should we.

      All that said, the more I hear, the less I like it. I do think that a credible threat of force must be there in order for diplomacy to work (else there is no incentive), but surely we’ve learned by now that we cannot improve the situation in the Middle East by military aggression.

  2. Submitted by Patrick Wells on 09/12/2013 - 06:06 am.


    Has anyone read a history book? Has anyone seen a returning soldier? Does anyone remember Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan?

    The real question here is why are seemingly smart people driven to want to go to war. Certainly they are not shocked by the callous killing of innocents. After all we used Agent Orange in Viet Nam. Obama has his daily kill list for drone strikes.

    I really do not understand. Would Eisenhower have done this? Would Kennedy have done this? Would Gerald Ford have done this?

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