Secretary of State John Kerry “vociferously” pushed for air strikes on Syrian airfields at a White House meeting last Wednesday, reports
Jeffrey Goldberg of Bloomberg.Kerry was shot down by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, who said the Pentagon would not back a plan without clear entrance and exit strategies, noting that neutralising Syrian air defence would require more than 700 sorties, according to the Bloomberg.
Dempsey also reportedly said that sequestration had hurt the Pentagon’s ability to pull off such an approach.
Kerry apparently lost this battle, as on the following day the White House announced a subtler plan to supply moderate Syrian rebels with small arms and ammunition.
Meanwhile, members of Congress pressed the Obama administration on Sunday to install a no-fly zone. That would also result in several air strikes, followed by continued action to police the skies — a tough call in a time of austerity.
Supplying the rebels with weapons presents its own problems. The vetting process for Syrian rebels is limited, and arms could easily fall into the wrong hands, such as Al Qaeda. Moreover, such a process is lengthy, and it could take months before the fighters receive new equipment.
One of Kerry’s arguments, reports Bloomberg, was that air strikes would convey to President Bashar Al Assad that Washington means business.
As Goldberg notes at the end of his article, a similar approach worked for President Bill Clinton during the Serbian conflict: “President Bill Clinton eventually decided to use air power in the Balkans, and it brought the Serbian government to its knees.”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.