A week after sending a pointed letter demanding more information about the plan to use military force in Syria, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner has said that he would support President Obama's use of force. So did Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and hawks like Senators Lindsay Graham and John McCain. But most of the questions Boehner posed to Obama before the president announced that he would consult Congress remain unanswered.
The biggest ones, such as what the Administration is seeking from its response and what the intended effect of the military strikes is, have yet to be fully fleshed out. Other queries, such as whether the military has contingency plans if Bashar al-Assad retaliates against our allies or interests in the region, or if the administration will strike again if Assad continues to use chemical weapons, were not addressed in the president's remarks on Saturday. From the Times:
There appeared to be broad agreement with the president, Mr. McCain and Mr. Graham said, that any attack on Syria should be to “degrade” the Syrian government’s delivery systems. Such a strike could include aircraft, artillery and the kind of rockets that the Obama administration says the forces of President Bashar al-Assad used to carry out an Aug. 21 sarin attack in the Damascus suburbs that killed more than 1,400 people.
“There was no concrete agreement, ‘O.K., we got a deal,’ ” Mr. McCain said. “Like a lot of things, the devil is in the details.”
Those details will likely take time to pin down, as members of several pertinent Congressional committees convene on Washington before the start of the session on September 9 to debate the matter, and as they wait for polling that shows if the American people actually want to intervene. At the moment, they do not.
Meanwhile, we've already started our indirect military intervention in Syria, and it's going just fine.
Mr. Obama indicated that a covert effort by the United States to arm and train Syrian rebels was beginning to yield results: the first 50-man cell of fighters, who have been trained by the C.I.A., was beginning to sneak into Syria.
Administration officials have told Congress that the C.I.A.'s program to arm the rebels would be deliberately limited at first to allow a trial run for American officials to monitor it before ramping up to a larger, more aggressive campaign. American officials have been wary that arms provided to the rebels could end up in the hands of Islamic extremists with ties to Al Qaeda.