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Obama Still Intends War on Syria—He Spoke of a Wipe-Out Scenario at Sept. 8 Washington, D.C. Gathering

Sept. 15, 2014 (EIRNS)—Buried in a sympathetic Peter Baker article in the Sept. 13 New York Times on Obama’s struggles with the question of war, is this:

"He was acutely aware that the operation he was about to embark on would not solve the larger issues in that region by the time he left office. ’This will be a problem for the next president,’ Mr. Obama said ruefully, ’and probably the one after that.’ But he alternated between resolve as he vowed to retaliate against President Bashar al-Assad if Syrian forces shot at American planes (emphasis added), and prickliness as he mocked critics of his more reticent approach to the exercise of American power."

This generated a headline in The Hill (which was picked up by antiwar.com) but not any additional substance.

That Obama intends to go to war in Syria, there is little doubt, and the administration is hinging it on both the 2001 Authorization to use Military Force and the 2002 Iraq war resolution. "We believe that the President would have the statutory authority to conduct air strikes against [ISIS] in Syria under the 2002 (Iraq) AUMF in at least some circumstances," an official told Time magazine. Obama is also continuing to push Congress to authorize the training and equipping of the "moderate" Syrian opposition. "If it’s not the Syrian opposition, trained and equipped by the United States, authorized by Congress and the president, then it’ll have to be U.S. troops," White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told Fox News Sunday. "The president made a decision on that. We’re not going to do that." That it might have to be US troops anyway, should the program fail to generate the opposition army that it is fantasizing about, apparently is not on their minds.

The New York Times’s Baker reports that, during a dinner with guests, including newspaper columnists, on the night of Monday, Sept. 8, Obama was asked what he would do if his strategy did not work and he had to escalate further. He rejected the premise that his strategy might fail. "I’m not going to anticipate failure at this point," he said. Baker further reports (it seems to be the case that Baker was not present at the scene but is relying on reports from others who were) that Obama "made clear the intricacy of the situation, though, as he contemplated the possibility that Mr. Assad might order his forces to fire at American planes entering Syrian airspace. If he dared to do that, Mr. Obama said he would order American forces to wipe out Syria’s air defense system, which he noted would be easier than striking ISIS because its locations are better known. He went on to say that such an action by Mr. Assad would lead to his overthrow, according to one account." Which, of course, has been the Obama Administration’s intention all along.