Originally published on Thu September 5, 2013 1:34 pm
Syria's civil war is complicated, but at least there's a consensus among American policymakers: There are no good options.
So let's pretend you're the president and you need to decide what action, if any, the U.S. should take. The possibilities are endless, and plenty of unintended consequences are sure to follow.
To make your decision manageable, we're presenting four basic options. We realize they are not mutually exclusive, but you have to focus on something. You can make your choice at the bottom of this story.
Moscow is in the final days of a campaign for Sunday's mayoral election. The outcome isn't in doubt. The winner will be the Kremlin-backed incumbent Sergei Sobyanin. But his main challenger is running a Western-style campaign. Some say that campaign could change the way politics are played in Russia's biggest city.
The objective of an American strike on Syria appears to be evolving. Days ago, White House officials insisted their goal was to respond to the use of chemical weapons, not to intervene in Syria's civil war. But it's always been quietly understood that doing one thing could easily affect the other, and that has become more explicit in recent days.
The topic of military intervention is Syria is expected to over shadow the Group of 20 summit going on in St. Petersburg, Russia. President Vladimir Putin hosts but there are no plans for him and President Obama to meet one on one, given the controversy over Syria and Russia's grant of asylum to NSA leaker Edward Snowden.
A big part of the challenge of enforcing President Obama's red line against Bashar al-Assad's regime on the use of chemical weapons is how the region will react. And as a possible strike on Syria looms, the mood among Arabs is something Shibley Telhami is following closely. He's a professor at the University of Maryland and his latest book is "The World Through Arab Eyes: Public Opinion and the Reshaping of the Arab World."
We're going to hear now from one House Republican who's already on the record opposing a U.S. military strike in Syria. That's New York Congressman Chris Gibson. Before his election to the House in 2010, Gibson served 24 years in the Army, and that includes four combat tours in Iraq. Congressman Gibson, welcome to the program.
REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS GIBSON: Thanks, Melissa. Good to be with you.
BLOCK: Why don't you lay out first just why you oppose a military strike on Syria?
On Wednesday, the John Kerry and Chuck Hagel road show moved on to the House Foreign Affairs Committee as the administration tries to build support for an air attack on Syria President Bashar al-Assad's military assets. But there is uneasiness among some House members who wonder how and why Speaker John Boehner was so quickly won over.
Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee spent Wednesday scrambling to find language authorizing military strikes on Syria that was acceptable to both those wanting a stronger response and those hoping to limit U.S. involvement.
Syrian dictator Bashar Assad gave a rare interview to a western news outlet this week. He told the French newspaper Le Figaro that the U.S. and France have yet to "put forward a single proof" that his regime was behind the chemical weapons attack outside the Syrian capital. Melissa Block talks with Georges Malbrunot, Middle East reporter for Le Figaro, who conducted the interview in Damascus.