Our View: McCaffrey: A ‘muddled’ strategy

Posted: August 30, 2013

Retired Army Gen. Barry McCaffrey, speaking on MSNBC Thursday morning, said out loud what we suspect many folks have been thinking. Namely, 1) that President Obama’s evolving Syrian strategy is “muddled” and “confused” (at best), 2) that any potential strike will be governed by politics of the moment rather than the pursuit of any long-term military/strategic goal, and 3) that, even given the fly-swat response suggested by No. 2, such an endeavor may very well exacerbate a deteriorating situation rather than improve it.

“We are not thinking clearly about a political objective and military measures to achieve that objective,” Gen. McCaffrey said.

The pregnant question in all this, he added, is this: What if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad simply shrugs off the anticipated air attacks and continues to use chemical weapons against his own people, as has been alleged? What will Mr. Obama do then?

Gen. McCaffrey indicated that no contingency plan exists, the implication being that if the United States were to intervene, regime change should be our objective.

Which posits a further question, also pregnant: Is an all-or-nothing approach truly in America’s — and the region’s — best interests, especially given the alternative, i.e., Islamists rushing to fill the void left by Mr. Assad’s demise?