If the goal is not to rid the Syrian regime of chemical weapons or to remove President Bashar al-Assad from power, what exactly is the goal?
Little stressed that any attack on Syria authorized by Congress would be limited and of short duration and would be intended to 'degrade and deter' Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons. 'This is not going to be a long, protracted drawn-out conflict' that would require ground troops...
There has been much speculation on whether militants have also been using chemical weapons, particularly from sources like Russia Today. Putting that argument aside, and making the assumption that the Syrian regime is solely responsible for the chemical weapons attacks that have been used by the Obama Administration to justify a limited military strike, the end goal continues to remain unclear.
Will military strikes deter Assad from using chemical weapons altogether? If so, will he just go back to bombing his people? The utter lack of a coherent strategy is likely why President Obama is getting little support, as evidenced in a chart posted at the Huffington Post tracking likely votes by members of Congress. Of course, their data is gathered by the heavily biased ThinkProgress, so it should be taken with a grain of salt.
Yesterday Brett Logiurato of Business Insider tallied the numbers by various sources. He reports that in addition to the ThinkProgress tally, "The Washington Post puts the count of "no" votes at 205" and "The Hill has the most sober count of "no" House votes, at just 114." It is not just Congress who isn't sold on the idea. The American people are also against a military strike. Logiurato points to a Pew Research Center poll from Tuesday, which revealed that "29% of Americans support military strikes on Syria, while 48% oppose."
In order for the mission to have credibility, the goal should be articulated clearly and honestly. To "deter and degrade" is simply not enough to convince anyone who is paying attention. And if the goal is really to remove Assad from power as been hinted by the Obama Administration, Americans should be prepared for a "mission creep," as noted by Dominic Tierney of the Atlantic.