Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

Syria: To Strike or Not?

This topic was discussed on September 9, 2013.
The developments in Syria, and their repercussions in the U.S. and around the world, have dominated the news in recent weeks. On Monday, September 9, we will discuss what to do about the situation.

  • What are the U.S.’s options for action?
  • Under what conditions should the U.S. intervene?
  • What should be the minimum “coalition” behind U.S. action?
  • How should Congress vote? What should the resolution look like?
  • Does the President have the authority to act without Congressional approval?
  • What repercussions from a U.S. strike can be expected? By Syria? By Iran? By Russia?
  • What precedents are set be action? By inaction?


  • Here is a website that was posted on Facebook with some very basic information but also some interesting history:

    More provocative is the link near the beginning of this article called ‘9 questions about Britain you were too embarrassed to ask’ He states it has a humorous slant but raises a very interesting question – why are there some countries it seems okay to bomb and yet some countries we cannot conceive of bombing?

    See you tomorrow!


    This piece from today’s “Guardian” suggests that a U.S. attack on Syria may strengthen jihadists who have already spread themselves across the north. Pretty ugly scenario.

    See you later this morning.

  • I think the “pivot” that we discussed this morning, away from Military action in Syria toward the issue of international consensus on chemical weapons, is about to occur – without the necessity of admitting a “mistake” in drawing the “red line”. Since this morning, the almost accidental John Kerry response to a press question about what it would take to prevent military action: that “Assad could hand over his chemical weapons; but he isn’t about to do it – it can’t be done;” lead to the immediate gambit by Putin that Assad submit to international chemical weapons inspection and control, diffusing the military confrontation. Obama and Kerry will jump at the opportunity to take the high road of statesmanship. Congress will demur, preserving its constitutional authority in matters of war. But the presidency will preserve its position on Commander in Chief authority under the War Powers Resolution. It’s a win – win – win. Obama & Kerry win. Putin wins. Congress, both Republican hardliners and isolationists, Democratic loyalist and pacifists win. Assad wins, deflecting for now, the question of his retention of power. Syrian opposition preserves the status quo without the future threat of chemical weapon use. The issue of a nuclear Iran and North Korea will continue while the implied option of U.S. “credibility” on intervention or Russian acquiescence to international sanction are preserved. Only history will decide whether this was a brilliant display of brinksmanship or a fortunate stroke of good luck. I prefer to think that the Blue Hill Beyond Labels forum resolved the question. Thanks for an interesting discussion.

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