I strongly oppose any sort of military strike on Syria. But I’d like to think that if it happens, it would be just as limited and just as small as the Administration has been claiming it will be. However, it seems like every which way you turn, there’s strong evidence to cast doubt on this assumption.

On the one hand, this could be equivocal:

While stressing that Washington’s primary goal remained “limited and proportional” attacks, to degrade Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities and deter their future use, the president hinted at a broader long-term mission that may ultimately bring about a change of regime.

“It also fits into a broader strategy that can bring about over time the kind of strengthening of the opposition and the diplomatic, economic and political pressure required – so that ultimately we have a transition that can bring peace and stability, not only to Syria but to the region,” he told senior members of Congress at a White House meeting on Tuesday.

On the other hand, this probably isn’t:

Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday appeared to leave the door open to the U.S. deploying ground troops in Syria in the event the country “imploded, for instance.”

“In the event Syria imploded, for instance or in the event there was a threat of a chemical weapons cache falling into the hands of somebody else and it was clearly in the interest of our allies — all of us, the British, the French, and others. I don’t want to take off the table an option that might or might not be available to the President of the United States to secure our country,” Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, debating whether to authorize President Barack Obama’s punitive strike in response to a reported chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime.

And the incredibly broad language of the AUMF is troubling, though it’s possible it could be “anchoring” such that it makes a limited intervention the safe median option between it and nothing. If they’re even thinking along that track, who really knows.

Kerry is obviously just making this shit up as he goes. Which doesn’t make him any different from the rest of the people in charge, from what I can tell. I’m not a huge fan of Fareed Zakaria generally (h/t Goddard) but he really has the Admin. dead to rights here: ” Now a pundit can engage in grandiose speech. The president of the United States should make declarations like this only if he has some strategy to actually achieve them. He did not.” But as with Libya, what we see is a supposedly cool, calculating POTUS reacting emotionally and illogically in the face of pressure from hawks. I see no reason to give him the benefit of the doubt that it’ll stay limited considering that a limited strike would be just like tossing chum to the piranhas, intensifying the pressure significantly from people like Sens. McCain and Graham, which Obama has proven time and again that he cannot withstand. Also, it’s personally disturbing to me that that’s Obama’s first target here, getting those assholes on board.

Ultimately, I do not like the idea of selective unilateral enforcement of international norms through bombing. However, what troubles me the most is that there’s no evidence of any method here at all. If Obama can be pushed into doing something he resisted doing because of some old quote, what happens when something happens and people bring up the “Assad must go” quote? It’s possible that Obama would indeed keep involvement contained to a small strike, but there are plenty of little problems to be concerned with here.

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