Beltway Insider: US Poised For War; Intelligence Assesses Attack; Secretary of State Presents Case; Politicians Respond

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President Barack Obama has spoken to the nation as he prepares to launch U.S. missile strikes aimed at Syrian military installations in retaliation for Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons.

According to Gallup, President Obama’s job approval, over the past week, dropped four percentage points to 45% of those polled approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President rose four percentage points to 47%

US Poised For War with Syria

President Obama addressed the nation as he prepares to “seek authorization for the use of force” on utilizing limited missile strikes against key targets in Syria to effect a retaliatory blow against Bashar-al-Assad for the chemical weapons attack waged on his own people.

The President spoke from the Rose Garden with Vice President Joseph Biden by his side, conveying his intent to seek the full consent of the senate, so the case for war, limited in scope and duration, will become the burden of both parties. He emphasized the U.S. is ready to strike and he is willing to “wait a day, a week, a month.”

President Obama reiterated his continued belief and plan that any involvement in the Syrian Civil War including this current strategy “would not be an open-ended intervention.  We would not put boots on the ground.  Instead,” He stated, “Our action would be designed to be limited in duration and scope.  But I'm confident we can hold the Assad regime accountable for their use of chemical weapons, deter this kind of behavior, and degrade their capacity to carry it out.”

Assad, who has not denied the August 21 attack which the White House has called “the worst chemical weapons attack in the 21st Century,” had initially agreed to have United Nations Inspectors visit the site of the alleged attack in the Damascus suburbs. Those inspectors, in the attempts to confirm the intelligence and determine culpability, were reportedly fired upon several times.

Word of the attack spread through the use of social media, amateur videos as well as reports from Damascus hospitals who confirmed over 3600 civilians were admitted seeking treated from symptoms associated with chemical weapon exposure and of that total  1429 civilians died.

The Syrian situation has progressively deteriorated since March 2012 when the wave of democracy known as Arab Spring moved across much of the Arab Peninsula and Middle Eastern nations. Regimes were toppled and uprising continued to fuel unrest, violence and instability in the region.

The Syrian Civil War has escalated over the past nine months, moving the small nation’s dictatorial leader, whose family has been in power since the 1970’s into the international spotlight.

Obama and American allies have taken the atrocities committed by Assad to a larger global court as the surrounding nations Israel, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey, have opened the borders to the overflow of Syrian refugees that have fled the country bringing with them the stories of his tyrannical rule.

The United States is the largest supporter of humanitarian aid in the region supplying assistance to vetted Syrian rebel groups, as well as supporting nations who assist in refugee relocation, pledges of financial support, as well as medical supplies, care, comfort and ration packages, and finally to vetted Syrian rebel groups the United States voted to arm with military weapons.

Air strikes will target specific Syrian sensitive military installations to detour the continued use of chemical weapons which includes particular infrastructure targets meant to cripple Assad’s military.

Asking for both the republicans and Democratic parties to debate and vote on a military strike is good political strategy for the president. It may not good war strategy but is good political strategy as both parties then becomes shareholders in the success or failure of the operation.

Over the past two years Assad has fought the democratic uprising in his country meeting the attacks of the rebels with military weapons supplied by Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as Hezbollah, a Lebanese faction who has successfully aided Syria in the recapture the Syrian town of Al-Qusayr which had been seized by the rebels.

The possibility of retaliatory strikes are very real as Assad may, with the ample time he has had to find safe quarters for himself, his family and more importantly the powerful weapons in his military arsenal, launch against U.S. allies including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq.

With Hezbollah also aligned with Syria and prepared to fight, there is increased  risk against U.S. Embassies, Ambassadors, embassy employees and other U.S. installations.

All nations of the world clearly condemn the use of chemical weapons, as it violates “a global prohibition on the use of chemical warfare.”

Globally, Great Britain, France, Israel, Jordan and other American allies are clearly aligned with President Obama current strategy as an unrestrained Assad “could lead to escalating use of chemical weapons, or their proliferation to terrorist groups who would do our people harm.”

However, the United Nations President, the global governing organization, Ban-ki Moon, has publically announced that he opposes the United States retaliatory strike plan and strategy. 

 

Intelligence Assessment of Chemical Attack

President Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and National Security Advisor Susan Rice, in agreement, have presented an assessment which concludes the strong and irrefutable probability that Bashar al-Assad proceeded with a chemical weapons attack against his own people on August 21, 2013 in Damascus.

The intelligence leading up to the attack include the confirmation through multiple streams of the presence of chemical weapons as well as the knowledge that Assad possess the capabilities to launch this type of warfare.

The intelligence provided the White House is supported through key members of the global intelligence community, including allies in the region, as well as the United States own intelligence.

Additional intelligence came through the hospitals in Damascus which reported approximately 3600 persons seeking medical attention after the alleged launch.

The information provided, and at this time, as presented indicates the chemical attack could not have been launched by rebels against the civilians in Damascus.

Although that scenario, however unlikely, must be reviewed in order to confirm its possibility. The outcome of any chemical launch, by Assad or the rebels, would result in the same global scenario and provoke the global community into action that would ultimately benefit the rebel forces. At this time and until Congress gives the go order, that scenario must be considered, however unlikely and multiple source of global intelligent from all allies will be presented to confirm the author of the launch.

 

Secretary of State John Kerry Presents Case for War

Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the media presenting a clear assessment of the Chemical weapons launch in Damascus.

Kerry detailed, point by point, the declassified facts that are part of the United States foundation for seeking authorization to use force against Syria.

The assessment was completed after gathering as much information from as many intelligence sources. Kerry began be reiterating Assad chemical warfare capabilities. As the holder of the largest chemical weapons arsenal in the Middle East Syria is constantly under scrutiny as Assad has released smaller, unconfirmed, chemical weapons attacks earlier this year.

Additionally, Damascus, the capital of Syria, was close to falling to the Syrian rebels creating a stronghold in a major transportation hub and would clearly be seen to the Syrian people, the neighboring countries, allies and the United States as a sign of impending victory for the rebels.

Kerry explained that intelligence provided confirmed that three days before the attack “Syrian regime's chemical weapons personnel were on the ground, in the area, making preparations.”

He continued, “And we know that the Syrian regime elements were told to prepare for the attack by putting on gas masks and taking precautions associated with chemical weapons. We know that these were specific instructions.”

The Secretary of State was passionate and methodical as he stated the United States knew when and where the missiles were launched from and when and where they landed.  With Syria divided in regime controlled and rebel controlled neighborhoods the fact that the weapons were launched from regime controlled area and landed in rebel controlled areas seems to be additional evidence.

What is most important as the Secretary of State continued was his assessment of responsibility.

“We know, he continued, “that after a decade of conflict, the American people are tired of war. But fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility. Just longing for peace does not necessarily bring it about.”

It is also a global responsibility as all nations “are working as an international community to rid the world of the worst weapons. That's why we signed agreements like the START treaty, the New START treaty, the Chemical Weapons Convention, which more than 180 countries, including Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, have signed.”

The usual stoic Kerry spoke passionately as he presented nine bullet points, from over one thousand declassified sources, which in his estimation and the opinion of the world all pronounce judgment upon Bashar al-Assad for the use of chemical weapons and the violation of chemical warfare treaties.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Responds

The ranking member of the Foreign Relations committee, U.S. Senator Bob Corker, (R-TN), made the following statement after a conference call briefing on the Syrian situation.

“While I’m opposed to American boots on the ground in Syria, I would support surgical, proportional military strikes given the strong evidence of the Assad regime’s continued use of chemical warfare. Whatever limited action is taken should not further commit the U.S. in Syria beyond the current strategy to strengthen the vetted, moderate opposition,” said Corker.

Images of Nerve Gas Usage Leak

United Nations Weapons Inspectors released photos from the alleged Syrian use of chemical weapons. With over 1429 Syrian citizens killed by the attack, the images are the most egregious and horrific symptoms usually present in nerve gas exposure included unconsciousness, foaming from the nose and mouth, constricted pupils, rapid heartbeat, and difficulty breathing.

Several of the released videos show what appear to be numerous fatalities with no visible injuries, which is consistent with death from chemical weapons, and inconsistent with death from small-arms, high-explosive munitions commonly known as the Shudder Effect, which destroys internal organs without any physical wounds, and is common in injuries suffered by civilians on perimeters of large scale suicide blasts.

For more information on President Obama: www.whitehouse.gov 

Sources: WhiteHouse.gov, Gallup, Department of Defense, Foreign Relations, Wikipedia

 

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