comments_image Comments

The Disastrous Consequences of a U.S. Military Attack on Syria

President Obama has not spelled out the possible consequences of a military attack on Syria, but U.S. military leaders are warning about the risks.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Ramage sails near the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt during daily flight operations off Oman on February 7, 2009, in a photo from the US Navy website. Half of all Americans believe President Barack Obama should no


Its 4am and I can’t sleep, just like 10 years ago when President Bush was telling the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the United States must invade and occupy Iraq to rid humanity of these weapons. I didn’t believe President Bush ten years ago and I resigned as a U.S. diplomat.

Now a decade later, President Obama is telling the world that the use of chemical weapons in Syria by the Assad government must be answered by other weapons, even though the results of the UN inspection team have not been compiled—just as the Bush administration refused to wait for the UN report by the inspectors who had been looking for WMD in Iraq.

Secretary of State John Kerry pronounced that the UN inspectors “can’t tell us anything that we don’t already know.” President Obama says that any U.S. attack on the Assad government will be as punishment, not regime change. The strike will be “limited”—but tell that to the civilians who inevitably die when military attacks take place.

President Bush and his advisors either didn’t know or didn’t care about the probable consequences of their decision to invade and occupy Iraq:

  • Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and over 4,000 Americans dead;
  • Millions of Iraqis and Americans wounded physically and psychologically;
  • Legions of young men of the region now experienced in warfare and for hire moving from Iraq to Libya to Syria;
  • And the Iraqi “democratic” government unable to control the whirlwind of sectarian violence that now is killing hundreds each week.

(Although the U.S. invaded and occupied Afghanistan under a different rationale, I also want to acknowledge the Afghan citizens who have been killed or wounded in the U.S. war in Afghanistan.)

President Obama has not spelled out the possible consequences of a military attack on Syria, but U.S. military leaders are warning about the risks. In a letter to the Senate Armed Services committee, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin  Dempsey wrote last month said, “As we weigh our options, we should be able to conclude with some confidence that use of force will move us toward the intended outcome.” “Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid.”

General James Mattis, who retired recently as head of the U.S. Central Command,  said last month at a security conference that the United States has “no moral obligation to do the impossible” in Syria. “If Americans take ownership of this, this is going to be a full-throated, very, very serious war.” 

Possible Consequences of A U.S. Military Attack on Syria

As U.S. warships gather off the shores of Lebanon to launch Tomahawk Cruise missiles at targets in Syria, we can make some educated guesses of what the “unintended consequences” could be:

  • Syrian anti-aircraft batteries will fire their rockets at incoming U.S. missiles.
  • Many Syrians on the ground will die and both the U.S. and Syrian governments will say the deaths are the fault of the other.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Damascus will be attacked and burned, as may other U.S. Embassies and businesses in the Middle East.
  • Syria might also launch rockets toward the U.S. ally in the region—Israel.
  • Israel would launch bombing missions on Syria as it has three times in the past two years and perhaps take the opportunity to launch an attack on Syria’s strongest ally in the region Iran.
  • Iran, a country with a population of 80 million and has the largest military in the region untouched by war in the past 25 years, might retaliate with missiles aimed toward Israel and toward nearby U.S. military bases in Afghanistan, Turkey, Bahrain and Qatar.
  • Iran could block the Straits of Hormuz and impede the transport of oil out of the Persian Gulf.

30 Years Ago, U.S. Warships Bombed Lebanon and the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut Was Blown Up in Retaliation

See more stories tagged with: