The Pentagon’s top two officials acknowledged Wednesday that President Obama had asked for preliminary military options that christian louboutin could help end the increasingly violent Syria conflict, but they emphasized the risks and said the administration still believes diplomatic and economic pressure is the best way to protect Syrians from the Assad regime’s vindictive repression.
The appraisal by Army General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta in Senate testimony reflected increased concern about the year-old uprising in Syria, the most violent of the Arab Spring conflicts. The UN estimates more than 7,500 people have been killed in clashes in Syria thus far.
Their comments also reflected Syria’s politicization in the United States during a presidential election year, with Obama’s adversaries accusing him of weakness in the face of foreign crises.
They spoke two days after Senator John McCain, a Republican of Arizona, who lost to Obama in 2008, became the first senator to call for US airstrikes on Syria as “the only realistic way’’ to stop what he called a slaughter there. Both Dempsey and Panetta spent much of their testimony fending off McCain’s questions about why the administration was so reluctant.
Their exchanges at the Senate Armed Services Committee came as the conflict in Syria took some dramatic new turns.
The United Nations’ top relief official, Valerie Amos, visited the ravaged Syrian city of Homs - the first inspection there by an independent outside observer since President Bashar Assad ordered a ferocious military assault of the city’s armed resistance more than a month ago. Ominous signs emerged that Assad’s forces Christian Louboutin Evening would now direct their campaign northward to Idlib Province, where the Free Syrian Army, a group composed mostly of army defectors, are challenging his authority.
Dempsey told the committee that the options included humanitarian airlifts, naval monitoring, aerial surveillance of the Syrian military, and the establishment of a no-fly zone. Specifically, he said that “the president of the United States, through the national security staff, has asked us to begin the commander’s estimate’’ - a term for an initial assessment of a situation and potential courses of military action.
Panetta, who spoke alongside Dempsey, told the committee that military options were in the earliest stages. “We have not done the detailed planning because we are waiting for the direction of the president to do that,’’ he said.
Modern commanders in chief have routinely asked for military options during foreign crises, and the Pentagon as part of its daily business draws up contingency plans for a wide range of potential conflicts.
Panetta and Dempsey spent much time explaining the difficulties of military action. Panetta said intervention could expedite a civil war in the country and make an explosive situation worse. He said bluntly that the Obama administration recognized “that there are limitations of military force, especially with Christian Louboutin Toundra Trimmed Suede Ankle Boots Chestnut US boots on the ground.’’
He added “it doesn’t make sense’’ for the United States to act without a coalition of allies.