Fox News on August 28, 2013, published an AP report on U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel opening two days of talks with Asian defense leaders in Brunei, pushing for closer military ties even as the world is focused on Syria. Excerpts below:
Hagel was consulting by phone with administration officials and with allied defense chiefs, and he raised the Syria crisis in a one-on-one meeting with his South Korean counterpart. Officials said the two agreed that the purported chemical weapons attack on civilians last week in Syria was a matter of deep concern.
Japan’s defense minister thanked Hagel for taking the time to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations conference amid the Syria crisis.
Meanwhile Weekly Standard on August 26 published a warning by Eliot E. Cohen that simply sending cruise missiles into Syria would not be enough. Excerpts below:
“A serious bombing campaign would have substantial targets — most plausibly the Syrian air force, the service once headed by Assad’s father, which gives the regime much of its edge over the rebels, as well as the air defense system and the country’s airports, through which aid arrives from Iran. But should the Obama administration choose any kind of bombing campaign, it needs to face some hard facts,” Cohen wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.
For one thing, and despite the hopes of some proponents of an air campaign, this would not be surgical…A serious bombing campaign means civilian casualties, at our hands. And it may mean U.S. and allied casualties too, because the idea of a serious military effort without risk is fatuous.
And it probably would not end cleanly. When the president proclaimed the impending conclusion of the war with al-Qaeda, he disregarded the cardinal fact of strategy: It is (at least) a two-sided game. The other side, not we, gets to decide when it ends. And in this case neither the Syrian government nor its Iranian patrons, nor its Hezbollah, Russian and Chinese allies, may choose to shrug off a bombing campaign.
Chess players who think one move ahead usually lose; so do presidents who think they can launch a day or two of strikes and then walk away with a win. The repercussions may be felt in neighboring countries; they may even be felt in the United States, and there is no excuse for ignoring that fact.
Nevertheless, Cohen thinks it would be “intolerable” not to act, at this point. “Despite all these facts, not to act would be, at this point and by the administration’s own standards, intolerable.”