U.S. military planning, but diplomacy still goal for dealing with Syria
April 19th, 2012
05:17 PM ET

U.S. military planning, but diplomacy still goal for dealing with Syria

By Mike Mount

The United States military is continuing to plan for various military options for Syria, but U.S. and international diplomatic efforts will remain the primary effort to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government to step aside, the top Pentagon leadership told a congressional panel on Thursday.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told members of the House Armed Service Committee there would be no unilateral military action in Syria and there would have to be an international consensus for the United States to play a part in any military operations against the Syrian government.

"There is no silver bullet," Panetta told the congressional panel. "We also know that the complex problems in Syria cannot all be solved through the unilateral actions of the United States, or any other country. They demand a coordinated international response that is uniquely tailored to the situation," he said.

While diplomatic efforts continue, the U.S. military has been providing "information and intelligence with regional partners," Dempsey said. The U.S. government is also providing assistance to the opposition with nonlethal support, including communications and medical equipment as well as providing $25 million in emergency humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people, according to Panetta.

Panetta said that sanctions and targeting of the central bank of Syria were also working. "The result is that 30% of the regime's lost revenues have occurred as a result of those sanctions. The U.S. and the E.U. have imposed a strong oil embargo. The exchange rate has depreciated by more than 50% and their GDP has been in a serious decline, approaching almost a minus 8% in 2011 and more now," Panetta said.

The two were on Capitol Hill to update the committee on the security situation in Syria, where congressional members remained split on whether the United States should assist the Syrian people.

"There is much we do not know about the Syrian opposition," said Rep. Howard McKeon, R-California, the chairman of the committee. "Therefore, I am not recommending U.S. military intervention, particularly in the light of our grave budget situation, unless the national security threat was clear and present," he said.

But the ranking Democrat on the panel, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Washington, said the United States and other nations should support the Syrian opposition, but the United States should also be extremely cautious when discussing the use of military force.

Both the top U.S. military leaders repeated to the panel they were confident al-Assad and his regime would eventually fall. Neither one, however, offered a timetable of when they thought that could be, because of the complexities involved inside Syria.

One example of these complexities is the continued support of al-Assad by his military. The United States has said one of the keys to the regime collapsing would be major defections by the military. But what is actually happening inside the Syrian military ranks is not following that pattern.

"Part of the problem here is that Assad still seems to maintain the loyalty of the military even though there have been significant defections, that the military still seems loyal and they continue to strike back at the Syrian people," Panetta said.

In a further attempt to explain why Libya was less complex than the Syrian situation in terms of using NATO to help push the regime out, Panetta was succinct.

"This is not Libya," Panetta said. "In Libya, there was widespread international support in the Arab world and elsewhere, and a clear Security Council authorization for military intervention, and NATO was authorized to act on that. No such consensus currently exists regarding Syria."

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Filed under: Assad • Dempsey • Military • Panetta • Secretary of Defense • Syria
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. michael

    The plans were originally laid out years ago under Bushs Pentagons plan to invade 7 nations in 5 years or was it 5 nationws in 7 years , naw had to be 7 for 5, Bushg was the decider and there was God Talking to him and God, His Goddwas a big thinker. Present plans were alwayus kept up to date, heck if your gonna invade Iran and Syria is right in the way of your ally Israel you have to keep thee plans updated OR Recieve a call from AIPAC. This is juat a FuBAR as the Syrians got a little out of hand as did those in Egypt and all of a sudden the punks US were aiding were found out to be just that Punks with a good line, Kinda like Chalabi in Iraq was, no body like him except those within US. What do you expect when as in Egypt you got a bunch of NGO tyes talking freedom who in the long run kn ow theirt buttss will be bailed out, just as those in Egypt were and now will not return to a trial. Yes Bush plan was there, God got a more liberal and one who can think to run it, Hillary with her neo liberalo and neo cons all over the Executive Branch are far better than Condi and Rummy were at the game.

    April 22, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Reply
  2. Rabbi

    What stupid Americans seem not to understand, is that Jews are chosen people.

    We will reap the rewards of our faithful service to Yahweh.

    The goyim of this world should be happy to fight over the scraps that we Jews throw from table.

    Israel will reign supreme over earth, and anybody challenging that assertion will be conquered, with the help of US military.

    You people may not like us Jews, but you WILL learn to fear us.

    If a few of you must die to save a few of us....that's a bargain I can live with. Your own nations agree with me on this.

    Long may Israel reign.

    April 21, 2012 at 11:25 pm | Reply
  3. Dookey flavored kool aid

    Same m o new location. Thwart a nation's soverignty aid and install the anti christian muslim terrorists

    April 20, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Reply
    • ibn Franko

      You're too stupid to even be of any use as cannon fodder.

      April 20, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Reply
  4. NONE OF OUR BUSINESS

    WHY is the US involved here?????

    April 20, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Reply
    • Chayoo

      Becuase the US is and has been used as an arm of the global elite, mostly from banking , to carry out their dirty work. Syria has NOTHING to do with our national defense. If armed Americans attacked US forces in the US, they would fire back just as in Syria. And the US would declare war agiant the countries funding and arming the American people. And would also deplore the forign powers attempting an overthrow of the govtjust as the Syrian govt has

      April 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Reply
  5. dreamer96

    So if we take the military option...do we try to capture the chemical weapons depots, and factories/plants, or do we napalm the heck out of them, in hopes we can burn that stuff up....

    April 20, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Reply
  6. Chayoo

    The US Senator qouted in this article says there is not much known about the oposition but in fact, there is a lot of news reports stating that the opposition in syria includes ilsamists militants imported and armed by the US, UK, Framce amd Turkey. This Senator needs to do some research befpre he opens his mouth.

    Also this writer mentions the US is funding the "opposition" in a non military way but fails to mention news reports of the west arming these terrorists. The US govt says it wants to overthrow Asad. This is highly illegal. And they want to install an islamist govt just like they did in Libya. Someone at the UN needs some balls to cwll them out on this.

    The west does not want a an end to the killing, they are supporting it by arming terrror groups inside Syria and sending CIA, MI6 there to kill govt and innocence to destabilize the country. If you look at history its what always happens.

    April 20, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Reply
    • take it deep

      i am so sick of you little fa$$ots talking about how evil the us is, who through the first punch? the whole mideast would be at peace if the little cunts didn't start it by killing our people on 9111, but you are right about one thing we have no desire for peace, you will all suffer and the new leaders in your ruins will fear the usa and will make sure nobody starts some anti-american movement, mecca itself will feel our hate

      April 20, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Reply
      • ibn Franko

        America isn't evil. But people like you are.

        April 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  7. desert voice (troubledgoodangel or Nathanael or Bohdan or Voiceinthedesert)

    I believe that the prior votes of China and Russia can be invalidated by world pressure. If not, a new UN must be created in which voting for genocide is strictly forbidden! As it is now, China and Russia think that they can forward their national interests voting in this way. I call for a clause in the UN Constitution [Charter], to make such thing impossible!

    April 20, 2012 at 8:39 am | Reply
    • CelestialOne

      It seems that you have a problem with the current UN Charter. Why not just disband the UN organization, forget about the Geneva Convention and just allow US and its allies to bomb any country in the whole world. Isn't this what you want ?

      April 20, 2012 at 9:03 am | Reply
      • Pinko

        Um......isn't that what we already do?

        April 20, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • NCHunter

      While I think the UN is useless, changing the charter so the any country can have it way is wrong. Russia and China have picked side as have we. If we support the Rebels then support them weapons and material, I sure Russia and China are doing the same. The US should not get involved this is not are business, we need to stop this policing were doing. If a country attacks us or allow some group working in their country to attack us we should go in and kill them and come home, stop all this nations building crap, it does work and they don't care.

      April 20, 2012 at 10:55 am | Reply
  8. CnnCntVerify

    The following "Friends of Syria" world leaders have been screwed big time by president Assad:

    – Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.

    – Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.

    – Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

    – King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud.

    – Saud al-Faisal.

    – Nicolas Sarkozy.

    – Alain Juppe.

    – David Cameron.

    – Hillary Clinton.

    Thank you Russia and China for all your help.

    God bless the Syrian Army and long live Secular Syria.

    April 20, 2012 at 12:37 am | Reply
  9. Tony

    After one year of massacres , diplomacy still goal for dealing with Syria!!

    OK , Give dictator Bashar al-Assad, another 3 years to the extermination of the Syrian people!

    Enough of this nonsense!

    April 19, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Reply
  10. Holland1990

    Law " R to P " Instead of the Security Council to bring down the Assad regime .

    Annan failed mission. This is very clear , because Assad did not respect the agreement with the United Nations. Assad did not respect any agreement at all. Should now return to the Security Council to issue a new resolution allows " the use of force " against Bashar al-Assad to stop the massacres against innocent people. If Russia and China used veto against a new resolution, should be reminded them the law " R to P " to protect the Syrian people. This law was approved by Russia , China and all countries of the world . the law " R to P " Proclaimed by the UN in 2005 to protect people from genocide. Russia and China should respect law " R to P " . If Russia and China did not respect this international law, the international community can go to Syria without them!

    What is the law " R to P " ?Means " Responsibility to Protect. This law " allows for the international community to intervene militarily against the state failed to do genocide against its people, "after the failure of diplomatic solutions, economic sanctions, as is happening now in Syria.

    Get more information about law " R to P " on link :

    http://en.wikipedia.ORG/wiki/Responsibility_to_protect

    April 19, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Reply
  11. BREZHNEV

    Ha HA HA! America! Long Live The Russian Empire!

    April 19, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Reply
  12. Osiris

    WE MUST NOT GET DRAGGED INTO ANOTHER WAR ON ISRAELS BEHALF!!!!!

    DOWN WITH LIKUD!!

    DOWN WITH ILLEGAL SETTLEMENTS!!!

    It's time to drop those zionist pigs, for good and all....

    April 19, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Reply
    • YoungMarine

      i don't want to fight and die for Israel!

      April 20, 2012 at 12:09 am | Reply
      • thesteward

        HERE HERE!!!!!

        April 20, 2012 at 1:32 am |
      • Buzzer

        Young "juvenile" marine...don't "hide" behind the title "Marine" and say what you want and don't want to do...if you are a Marine, and your CO tells you to fight then you'll do as you're told without any hesitation. Your butt should be kicked to the curb quickly...you'll just put other servicemen and women in harms way with you're "objection"...

        April 20, 2012 at 4:26 am |
    • Buzzer

      I don't see the word "Israel" any where in this article...go do you griping on an article that actually deals with said country...otherwise you're just a troll...

      April 20, 2012 at 4:21 am | Reply
  13. debra g

    God forbid we have to do anything to hurt Obammas presidential standings !

    April 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Reply
    • ibn Franko

      God forbid we put money into the educational system so people can learn how to spell.

      April 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Reply
  14. Trevor Cowan

    Don't you just get sick and tired of hearing the 'Diplomacy' bit? It is just one big stall so everyone can sit around doing nothing, but claim to be doing something. When has 'Diplomacy' worked in any country? If it has, it was not for long. Just another big stall.

    April 19, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Reply

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