Top US general lays out five options for US in Syria conflict
An open letter published last week by the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Martin Dempsey, has spelled out the military options open to the US with regards to intervening in Syria. Of the five options, Dempsey admitted that four of them amounted to “no less than an act of war.”
The letter was a response to a request from the chairman of the Committee on Armed Services, senator Carl Levin to provide an “unclassified assessment” of options for the potential use of US military force in Syria.
The five options spelled out included training, advising and assisting the opposition, conducting “limited stand-off strikes”, establishing a no-fly zone, setting up “buffer” zones close to the borders with Turkey and Jordan, and using “lethal force” to control the Assad regime’s chemical weapons.
Dempsey stressed the need to develop a“moderate” opposition which he said included their military capability. Military action of the type described would no doubt be extremely costly, and not just in economic terms, with the spectres of Afghanistan and Iraq still looming over any proposed intervention.
The Opinion Research Business (ORB) polling agency estimated in 2008 that the number of deaths in the Iraq war alone amounted to over to 1.2 million. Furthermore, the economic cost nearly topped $2 trillion according to the Congressional Budget Office. As such, another costly foreign war would likely be very unpopular domestically.
Dempsey acknowledged that lessons had to be learned from Afghanistan and Iraq saying “We have learned from the past ten years; it is not enough to simply alter the balance of military power without careful consideration of what is necessary in order to preserve a functioning state. We must anticipate and be prepared for the unintended consequences of our action.”