Op-Ed: Upcoming unilateralism

Posted Aug 26, 2013 by Paul Iddon
The planned western military operation against Syria is already looking dubious in its scope and its operational objectives.
File photo: F16 fighter jet
File photo: F16 fighter jet
John P. Rohrer / USAF
After setting his red line in Syria over a year and seeming to vacillate when it came to the question of a military response to the latest attack involving chemicals in the Syrian Civil War the U.S. President seems to be, along with his British and French counterparts, ready to launch a military strike of some kind against Syria in response to the use of poison gas on the battlefield.
That highly controversial killing of some 350 Syrians with chemical weapons has seen to a strong reaction on the part of the western powers of the U.N. Security Council who have long been opposed to Assad and have frequently condemned him for his brutal crackdown against the insurrection which began in Syria back in March 2011.
The question of military intervention in Syria and its feasibility have been discussed many times in the past two years. But now a deadline has been set in stone, in two weeks time these forces will act unilaterally against the military forces of the Baathist Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. But already the objectives of this operation remain ambiguous at best. This leads one to question whether the military forces of the countries that are intervening have a clear objective for their short-term campaign.
I bring this up because David Cameron hinted that these operations will be very limited when he outlined how, "This is not about trying to shape the outcome of the Syrian conflict by military means. This is focused on the [chemical weapon attack] incident that happened on Wednesday."
So will the campaign see to coalition air power -- since no power is committed to putting in "boots on the ground" -- only taking out known WMD sites in Syria?
This author has referred in the past when writing about this topic to a draft proposal that was put forth about the feasibility of striking Syrian air bases with cruise missiles and a limited number of jet fighters with the aim of undermining the Syrian military's ability to strike at the heartland of rebel-controlled swaths of the country. Cameron's comment seems to imply that the military intervention will only be aimed at the country's WMD program -- the very same WMD program that was up until a few days ago not "in the wrong hands" under the control and oversight and security of the Syrian government.
Yet U.S. contingency plans for a potential military intervention into the Syria conflict do emphasis that such an intervention would see to the pummeling of Syrian military targets across the country along with the targeting of chemical weapons sites. Something that would doubtlessly influence -- if not determine -- the outcome of the conflict, which Mr. Cameron referred to, by "military means."