Editorial: With Syrian gas attack, U.S. could be entering another conflict

Aug. 27, 2013 @ 11:34 PM

Almost two years after withdrawal of the final U.S. military forces from Iraq, it appears that the administration is poised for military action against Syria.

According to reports, an alleged attack outside Damascus that left some 300 dead is the latest possible chemical attack against opposition forces in Syria. Some of those dead were innocent children.

All signs seem to point that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces are behind the attack, although Assad denies it.

It may be too late for United Nations investigators, who are now in the area, to determine the source of the attack — but they were already investigating three other suspected chemical attacks in Syria that could have ties to the regime — and they're checking into this newest accusation.

Last August, President Obama said during a news conference at the White House that the use of chemical weapons by Assad's government in Syria would be crossing a "red line" — a term long-used for a point of no return from a military response.

“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized," Obama said on Aug. 20, 2012. "That would change my calculus. That would change my equation. . . . We’re monitoring that situation very carefully. We have put together a range of contingency plans.”

Already, some in the U.S. government are calling on Washington for a "surgical strike" to Syria.

Tennessee's own Sen. Bob Corker told NBC's "Today" show that "I do think action is going to occur" in response to the alleged gas attack.

Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who have both questioned the Obama administrations delays in getting involved, are saying that the United States has "sat on the sidelines too long."

The United Nations has said more than 100,000 Syrians have died in the country's civil war began in 2011.

It's uncertain which direction the U.S. will take.

In the past, before his election to the nation's highest office, President Obama criticized his predecessor for not giving U.N. inspectors more time before attacking Saddam Hussein's Iraq regime. 

It will be interesting to see how the President balances his earlier-stated desire for U.N.-led missions, his "red line" stance of a year ago and mounting political pressures to do something for the Syrian rebel forces that the administration has aided against Assad.

Both Iran and Russia have warned the U.S. against taking action against Assad's Syrian regime. Russia said it would be a "tragic mistake."

To act or not to act. Either way it's almost a no-win situation for the President.